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U.S. Pledges Continued Support for Global Agriculture
October 17, 2012

By MacKenzie C. Babb
IIP Staff Writer
October 16, 2012

Two people in a cornfield
The U.S. Feed the Future initiative has been working to increase rural farmers’ incomes and tackle the underlying causes of food insecurity.

The United States will contribute up to $475 million to the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP), promising to give $1 for every $2 committed by other donors.

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner announced the additional U.S. support for GAFSP October 12 during the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Annual Meetings in Tokyo.

“The United States is demonstrating once again its commitment to lead the global fight against hunger and malnutrition,” Geithner said at an event co-hosted by Japan and the World Bank.

The secretary called on donors from around the world to join in strengthening the GAFSP with additional financial support. Japan and South Korea responded by each pledging $30 million at the event. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation also announced its intention to contribute additional resources.

“By investing in GAFSP, we will mobilize funding from a diverse range of sources and set into motion innovative programs that will help communities become more self-sufficient, farmers increase their productivity, and families climb out of poverty,” Geithner said, according to an October 15 Treasury Department news release.

The release by department spokeswoman Kara Alaimo said the United States spearheaded the creation of GAFSP in the wake of the 2007–2008 food price crisis to help the world’s poorest farmers grow and earn more so they can lift themselves out of poverty. The program is already delivering results by supporting both public and private investments in agriculture, providing critical support in 18 countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America, the release said.

In Sierra Leone, for example, GAFSP financing has underwritten the delivery of improved extension services to farmers to help them boost yields in staple crops. The fund also has financed the rehabilitation of 250 kilometers of rural roads in Togo to better connect farmers to local markets, and has provided 18,000 farmers with better access to improved seed varieties and fertilizer.

“With nearly 1 billion chronically hungry people around the planet, there is a strong moral reason for investing in agriculture,” Treasury’s Alaimo said. “But there is good economic reason as well.”

The department said investments in agriculture have been shown to be two to four times more effective at reducing hunger and poverty than investments in any other sector.

GAFSP is part of President Obama’s broader food security initiative, Feed the Future. The Obama administration has made strengthening food security around the world a U.S. development priority.