THE WHITE HOUSE
 
Office of the Press Secretary
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                           July 10, 2009

Food Security: Investing in Agricultural Development to Reduce Hunger and Poverty
 

The vast majority of the world’s poorest people depend on agriculture for food and household incomes. When world food prices spiked last year, the G8 acted, including by advancing the Global Partnership for Agriculture and Food Security and implementing largely short and medium term measures to reduce hunger, the majority using emergency food aid.

This year, the global economic and financial crisis threatens the livelihoods of many of the world’s poorest people. While commodity prices are lower, food prices remain 40% higher than historical levels. At the same time, the contraction of global economic activity has reduced exports and incomes among farmers in developing countries. This slow down means that an additional 100 million people are at risk of being pushed into abject poverty.

Building on a broader U.S. initiative, the counties represented in L’Aquila have agreed to take significant action to improve food security through a renewed commitment to agriculture development. This action is overdue. Although 75% of the world’s poor live in rural areas and 60% of those suffering from hunger are rural small-scale farming families, only 4% of official development assistance goes to agriculture. This initiative represents not just a commitment of resources, which is significant, but also a commitment to reform the way the international community approaches food security, which is equally if not more important.

A Strong Financial Commitment

  • At the G20 Summit in London, President Obama announced his intention to ask Congress to double U.S. agricultural development assistance to more than $1 billion in 2010. We will seek to increase our investment annually, and provide at least $3.5 billion over the next three years.
  • Many of the other countries represented at L’Aquila are also making a substantial and sustained commitment to agricultural development with the objective of mobilizing $20 billion over the next three years, and we will be reaching out to other countries as well to join the Global Partnership. 
  • This is in addition to the substantial commitments of emergency, humanitarian food aid made by the U.S. and a number of the G8.

A New Approach to Food Security

The strategy that we will pursue with our partners is about more than increasing resources. The U.S. believes that by acting on the following principles, we can also champion a new, more practical approach for development and achieve greater efficiency and effectiveness.

1. Strategic Coordination of Assistance

Through the Global Partnership, development partners commit to coordinating their allocation of resources for agriculture development in order to maximize their effective and efficient use.

2. Investment in Country-Owned Plans

Rather than imposing a strategy from outside recipient countries, the Global Partnership will seek to channel resources to credible, country-owned plans. The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) is a model for developing such plans and an effective partnership. We will support similar processes in other regions.

3. A Comprehensive Approach: Key Areas for Investment

To achieve success, it is important to focus on the full range of issues that affect agricultural development, including increasing agricultural productivity (including through the provision of seeds and fertilizer); stimulating post-harvest, private-sector growth; supporting the role of women and families in agriculture; maintaining the natural resource base in the context of the changing climate; expanding knowledge and training; increasing trade flows; and supporting good governance and policy reform.

4. Role of Multilateral Mechanisms

In addition to providing bilateral assistance, countries will seek to use multilateral institutions and facilities, whenever appropriate. They will also work to reform and improve the effectiveness of existing multilateral institutions and financing mechanisms.
5. Sustained and Substantial Commitment

To achieve long-term food security, countries will substantially increase investments in agricultural development, provide resources in a timely and reliable fashion and sustain their commitment over at least a three-year period.
 
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