Land tenure security has been highlighted as one important link to food security in President Obama’s Feed the Future Progress Report, formally released this week. The report points out that in Tajikistan last year, the Feed the Future initiative supported the improvement of land rights and land use by working with the Government of Tajikistan to amend its land code to include ownership of land, use rights, and increased women’s equality. In addition, the U.S. government educated 38,000 rural citizens about their land rights and helped 6,838 farmers resolve their land issues through mediation and arbitration.
The May/June issue of FrontLines featured a story about how Feed the Future is supporting the expansion of a USAID-funded network of legal aid centers in Tajikistan that have helped more than 100,000 farmers learn about and assert their rights. Through the support of one NGO in the network, “Rural Women,” the number of registered women-led family farms in four districts increased almost threefold, from 87 to 240.
USAID Mission Director Anne Aarnes explained, “When women have more rights to land, there are cascading benefits for food security and poverty [reduction]. We have seen this firsthand in Tajikistan … When women gain freedom to farm, they grow healthier food for their families. They plant crops that last more than one season because they have faith that the land will still be theirs when the crops mature. It is inspiring to talk to women who went from not earning any money to being able to earn enough to send their children to university and to bring their sons home from migrant work abroad.”
USAID Deputy Administrator Donald Steinberg added, “Women’s access to land tenure, inheritance laws, to control what happens in agriculture sectors is key to development. If we could simply give women the same access to land, technologies and capital for farming that men have, we’d increase world food production by 30 percent. That means 150 million people would have access to food.”
Over the next five years, Feed the Future is expected to support USAID in enabling 200,000 Tajik women, children and other family members to escape poverty and undernutrition.
Follow the high-level discussion of the report, “Feed the Future: Growing Innovation, Harvesting Results,” during a panel on July 25 at 1:00 p.m. (Washington, DC). USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah will join former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman, as well as members of Congress and participants from civil society and the research community to discuss the collective action required to achieve food security, address future challenges and highlight successes in advancing global food security, such as those outlined in the new Feed the Future Progress Report.