President Barak Obama has called for increased financial support for agricultural development in poor countries as a way of mitigating food insecurity and promoting trade with the developed world.Mr Obama called upon the US Congress on April 17, to double US financial support in developing countries to more than $1bn (Shs2,050bn) in 2010, according to a press release by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).
“A permanent solution to food insecurity requires restoration of rapid and sustained economic growth that directly engages the world’s poorest populations, many of whom depend on agricultural labour for most or all of their household income and food consumption,” the release reads in part.
“We can directly improve the lives of poor populations by growing rural economies through broad-based agriculture growth. Doing so will help the world achieve the goal of halving the proportion of people who suffer from hunger by and decrease the price of food in the local market, making food affordable for and dramatically cutting hunger.”
The focus areas for agricultural development assistance include among others, increasing productivity and rural incomes by modernising the developing country’s agriculture through expanding development and use of modern technology.
The programme that will be managed through Usaid, will work in collaboration with American land-grant universities to strengthen the chosen countries’ research institutions.
According to the agricultural research organisation, CGIAR, the assistance will also boost access to quality seeds, fertilisers, irrigation, and rural credit while small producers are expected to be linked to markets, and agricultural value chains.
The funding will also strengthen national and regional trade, transport corridors and encourage private investment in agriculture.
The US aims at reducing dependency on international food aid and will seek to draw the poor countries into the growth process through social safety nets for example, by creating opportunities for jobs, improved education and healthcare services.
The Obama administration wants to see well established multilateral partnerships to leverage the strength of the developing countries’ private sector, NGOs, and universities.
The funding will cover 25 countries and eight regional-based programmes and the beneficiaries in Africa include; Kenya, Uganda, Zambia and Malawi.
South and East Asian countries like Bangladesh and Cambodia will benefit from the fund, while Guatemala and Honduras in the Western Hemisphere are some of the countries selected for support in their agricultural research.