President Barack Obama issued an “all hands on deck” command to combat chronic hunger and malnutrition, which he said was “an outrage and an affront to who we are.”

Speaking at the Chicago Council’s Symposium on Global Agriculture and Food Security, the president said the G8 – while dealing with global problems like job creation, the struggling Eurozone, and sustaining economic recovery – would also “focus on the injustice of hunger, and the need for long-term food security.”

He said the G8 leaders would open another front in the fight: a New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition. It is an alliance that will foster partnerships between governments from the rich world and the poor, donor countries and the private sector.

Governments, President Obama said, will agree to take the lead in building on the plans designed by developing countries to improve their agriculture. Donor countries will agree to more closely align their assistance to further these plans. And the private sector will agree to make concrete and continuing commitments to boost their investments.

The G8, he said, would sustain its commitments of three years ago to invest $22 billion in agricultural development, “and to speed things up.” Things like the development of new innovations, such as better seeds, better storage facilities and better communications for smallholder farmers to better deal with changing prices and changing climate.

He said the first three focus countries under the New Alliance will be Ethiopia, Ghana and Tanzania; in coming months, six more countries will be added.

And he said 45 companies, ranging from multinationals to local African enterprises, are kicking off the private sector contributions with investments of more than $3 billion.

The focus of the New Alliance, President Obama said, will be on boosting farmers’ incomes so that during the coming decades 50 million men, women and children will be lifted out of poverty. And equal focus, he said, would be on boosting nutrition along with incomes.

The New Alliance, the president said, “would put the fight against hunger where it should be, at the forefront of global development.”

“True development,” he added, “means not only delivering aid but promoting broad-based economic growth.” The purpose of aid, he said, should be to create the conditions where assistance is no longer needed; this, he noted, is the aim of his Feed the Future initiative, which seeks to create the conditions for smallholder farmers to grow enough food to feed their families and their communities so food aid isn’t needed to begin with.

Ending hunger, he said, was imperative on three fronts: moral, economic and security. A surging global population, he said, needs to be “matched by surging food production.”
Fifty years ago, he said, Africa was a food exporter. “There is no reason why Africa shouldn’t be feeding itself and exporting food. No reason at all.”

 


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