To address the growing concerns of international volunteers, Global Service Corps (GSC), a leader in sustainable agriculture programs in East Africa since 1994, is expanding its volunteer opportunities in food security in Africa. GSC is creating “citizen diplomats” who are directly involved with rural cooperatives in addressing the global food crisis through sustainable farming education and training in Tanzania. GSC recently expanded its Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security volunteer program in collaboration with Partners for Development (PFD) through a three-year agriculture support and food security grant from the US Department of Agriculture. GSC volunteers first receive comprehensive technical and in-field practical training at GSC partner Tengeru Agricultural College. GSC volunteers then act as training assistants to GSC staff and other local teams to train local farmers. GSC’s food security program supports local organic gardening and rural poultry projects initially in a regional program bringing food security to over 2,000 smallholder farmers in Tanzania. A particular focus of the program is providing support for families caring for Persons Living with HIV/AIDS, a long-standing commitment of GSC’s innovative, integrated programs.
Increased interest among lay volunteers in sustainable food production mirrors the growing concern about the global food crisis among U.S. and international leaders. According to U.N. food security officials, the global financial meltdown has pushed the ranks of the hungry to a record 1 billion, or one in six people globally, a grim milestone that poses a threat to peace and security across the world.
At the recent G8 Summit President Obama and other world leaders pledged $20 billion over the next three years for a comprehensive strategy focusing on sustainable agricultural development. The Obama administration is receiving bipartisan support to dramatically increase US aid to help meet this commitment. Foreign policy is being pushed to cure hunger epidemics in developing countries and reform the current “band-aids”
Historically, most food security government programs have included food donations and introducing new farming techniques in urban areas in hopes these would trickle down to smaller rural areas. Only recently has there been more attention given to the failure to generate sufficient food production due to lack of nutritious soil, vulnerable climate and geographic dependency on rain, lack of new agriculture innovation and education, and poor access for producers to large consumer markets due to their rural locations. President Obama is pressing for a new approach: "Our $3.5 billion food security initiative is focused on new methods and technologies for farmers -- not simply sending American producers or goods to Africa. Aid is not an end in itself. The purpose of foreign assistance must be creating the conditions where it is no longer needed."
“Global Service Corps has had a longstanding interest in the development of sustainable agricultural practices, training and education led by local organizations supported by international volunteer resources. We are encouraged by our recent research showing increased interest among volunteers seeking assignments abroad as well as by the Obama administration’
For more information about GSC’s volunteer programs in food security and sustainable agriculture, please visit www.globalservicecorps.org.