AMANPOUR: The GAO report last year found that the U.N. World Food Programme did purchase food locally in Africa, spent 34 percent less on similar aid provided to the same region by you, by USAID. And another GAO study found that the delivery times for this kind of food, your food, was over 100 days longer for your aid than for local food aid. Plus, there was something like $140 million wasted in shipping. So this is happening still now, as you say you're under review.
SHAH: Actually not. There are two facts that just came out. The first is the United States and USAID is now the single largest provider of resources for locally procured foods. We've gone from zero in our spending in that area to $250 million so that we can buy foods locally, buy the right foods, save money, and just as importantly, create the incentives for small farmers, like Maria (ph), the one you highlighted in the segment, to have the market incentives to improve their own agricultural production and really build a vibrant agricultural economy that helps move themselves out of poverty.
AMANPOUR: So what would you say to Maria (ph) or, indeed, her young daughter, Liliana (ph), who you saw I spoke to there, who they believe she didn't get the right food and she can't make it through school? And as we said, studies actually show a link between developmental stunting and physical stunting.
Is the U.S. farm bill going to change? I mean, what governs what you send abroad, is that going to change? Will there be more nutrients in it?
SHAH: Well, we absolutely are improving the nutrient quality of food aid, but I want to highlight that this isn't just about food aid. This is also about targeting kids under the age of two with clean water and hygiene interventions, making sure we get micronutrient supplements, like Vitamin A and zinc and iron, to pregnant women, and making sure that comes together in a way that achieves real progress.
For one example, our program in Guatemala, which has adopted this 1,000-days approach to solving the problem, has seen a 28 percent reduction in stunting amongst the treatment cohort of kids.
SHAH: In the past two years. And that is so important, because as you know, in the western highlands of Guatemala, 73 percent of the population is poor, it is entirely an agricultural-based economy, and 67 percent of the kids in that part of that country are stunted.
We think this is a solvable problem, and we're transforming the way we do development to make sure we invest in the Marias (ph) of the world who are the small women farmers who can actually be the solution.
AMANPOUR: And so as you take this lead in trying to make these changes, does U.S. law need to change? Does what -- what is prescribed under the farm bill and Title II need to change?
SHAH: Well, you know, we've changed a lot of regulations and how we implement the law to make sure we do this. We're working in partnership with private companies around the world and local companies in Senegal, in Pakistan, in Kenya, and in Guatemala to make sure we're using locally produced foods as much as possible. Your segment talked about Plumpy'nut, which is a peanut-based product. We're also exploring the use of chick peas in other parts of the world where that's the main source of protein.
AMANPOUR: Given that Plumpy'nut exists right now, is that something that the U.S. can -- can make part of its food aid?