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US-Africa Forum Guest Blog: Public-Private Partnerships Transform Business of Feeding the World - UN World Food Program

In a world where one in seven people still go to bed hungry every night, it’s clear that ending hunger demands new ways of thinking, new actors and a new approach to problem solving. By tapping into the power of groundbreaking public-private partnerships, we transform the business of feeding the world and enable a whole host of other development issues to be addressed. Working together to solve this most basic of human needs, we not only build the brains and bodies of the next generation but also boost productivity and create new economic opportunities...

Our “Enterprise EthioPEA” partnership with PepsiCo, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Government of Ethiopia seeks to transform both agricultural production of chickpeas, as well as the way nutrition is addressed in Ethiopia. The project taps private sector expertise and public sector leadership to boost chickpea production and then to process some of those chickpeas into a super nutritious, fortified food that prevents malnutrition among Ethiopian children under the age of five – when we have the greatest chance to affect the development of their brains and immune systems.

Combining PepsiCo’s capacity to increase production and accelerate demand with WFP’s programs feeding the world’s hungriest is much more than just corporate social responsibility: it uses the momentum of market-driven economic growth to expand agricultural development and build sustainable solutions to hunger.

And it begins with the government’s own ideas about economic development and nutrition: The partnership is training 10,000 farmers in Ethiopia – the largest producer of chickpeas in Africa – on more sustainable and effective agricultural practices by leveraging the deep agricultural expertise of Pepsico and USAID. These increased chickpea yields then become a locally-sourced, ready-to-use supplementary food WFP can use to boost the nutrition of Ethiopia’s vulnerable children.

We like to call it super hummus because of its incredible nutritional punch and power to save lives in some of the most food insecure places on earth. But it also demonstrates how simple and sustainable solutions to hunger can be with the right leadership, expertise, and commitment. Solving hunger requires all of us – corporations, governments, individuals – and such partnerships bring all players to the table.

At WFP, we now have a powerful, locally-produced nutritional product that will initially reach 40,000 malnourished Ethiopian children. However, transformational partnerships don’t stop when the first product roles off the line. They tap into the strengths of the community and build the groundwork for a sustainable vision of food security. This collaboration scales up and strengthens the Ethiopian chickpea supply chain, harnesses the potential of a domestic and export market, and increases the availability of locally-produced nutritious products for consumers.

And it does all this in support of the government’s own plan to increase agricultural production and to reduce malnutrition among children under five.

“Enterprise EthioPEA” is an example of how market-driven growth brings new expertise – and solutions – to the field. However, it is clearly much more than helping small-scale farmers boost yields. It’s about building capacity: to produce more and better crops, to manufacture goods, to participate in the market, and to build a platform for food security that’s driven by local leadership. It’s a business model that puts ending hunger at its core to enable consumers to do good in the world.

As leaders convene in Washington for the 2012 US-Africa summit to discuss transforming Africa’s food supply, this partnership serves as a reminder of how looking at things differently brings new solutions to global challenges. When the right kind of partners get on board, innovative solutions to hunger can be as simple – and transformative – as the chickpea. Transformational partnerships like “Enterprise EthioPEA” unlock the power of simple solutions by doing what farmers do every day: they break ground. They build the foundation to feed our growing world.

Nancy Roman is Director of Private Partnerships, Communications, Public Policy at the UN World Food Program, where she oversees the organization’s engagement and fundraising. Under her leadership, her team has raised $487 million and crafted transformational partnerships including EthioPea, a partnership with the government of Ethiopia, PepsiCo and USAID. WFP is an institutional member of the Partnership to Cut Hunger and Poverty in Africa.