Africa / Agriculture / Asia / Caribbean / Latin America / USA

‘Helping farmers become self-sufficient is one of the most effective ways to reduce poverty and hunger’–Gates and Shah

Fatima Kagenda

Fatima Kagenda, 53-year-old maize, potato and cassava farmer, as well as dressmaker and church treasurer, in the village of Khulungira, in central  Malawi, with hoe, crutches and knitting (photo credit: ILRI/CGIAR/Mann).

The international development website Devex reports this week that billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates and Rajiv Shah, administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), came out in strong support of agricultural development in poor countries at an international forum organized on 24 May 2011 by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

Gates and Shah stressed the importance of continuing global support for agricultural development in poor countries, which can increase food security among the very poor.

Along with US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Gates and Shah were keynote speakers at this international forum.

‘”I came here today to join those calling on the U.S. and other countries to fund agricultural development for poor farming families,” Gates said at the conference, explaining that helping these farmers become self-sufficient is one of the most effective ways to reduce poverty and hunger.

‘Ahead of the conference, Gates launched a challenge inviting people from around the world to submit compelling stories, videos or photos, among others, that show the role of small farmers in poverty and hunger reduction. . . .

‘USAID Administrator Shah said the Obama administration intends to spend more than $1.15 billion for food security initiatives under its Feed the Future Initiative in 2011.

‘“The majority of that money, $950 [million], will be spent across all Feed the Future countries. An additional $90 [million] will be spent on strengthening our nutrition programming,” Shah said. “And $100 [million] has been allocated to Treasury to commit to the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program, a multilateral trust fund we established in partnership with the World Bank.”

‘These commitments, Shah said, are subject to consultation with the U.S. Congress. . . .

‘At the conference, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs released its latest progress report on U.S. leadership in international agricultural development efforts, giving the country an overall grade of B minus for its efforts to reassert its leadership in the field.’

Read more about Gates’ challenge: In new challenge, Bill Gates to show small farmers’ role in poverty, hunger reduction.

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