Ben Cardin - Senator for Maryland

FOOD SECURITY AND THE G8

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I rise today to express my enthusiastic support for our efforts to elevate international food security commitments through the G8, which is being held this weekend in Maryland.

I understand that President Obama has invited the Presidents of Benin, Ghana, Ethiopia, and Tanzania to participate in the summit and strategize on ways in which we can all work together to accelerate progress on food security.  With over 1 billion poor and hungry people around the world, there is no time to wait.

Just three years ago, in L-Aquila, Italy, G8 leaders committed to support developing-country plans for agriculture to the tune of $7 billion a year over three years.  African governments also committed to allocating 10% of their budgets to support agriculture, because they recognize that three-fourths of Africans make a living from agriculture.

This week, we expect the G8 leaders to focus on private sector investment, donor coordination, innovation, and partnership.  I see this as a natural next step, in which we strive to amplify the truly historic commitments that we have made to ending world hunger.

As Secretary Clinton said in 2009, “We have the resources to give every person in the world the tools they need to feed themselves and their children. So the question is not whether we can end hunger. It's whether we will.”

We must harness the good will of the private sector, do a better job of coordinating among ourselves in the donor community, and show the American people that we are doing development better.  With such a limited foreign assistance budget, getting the most out of every dollar that we spend is vital if we are going to beat global hunger and human suffering.

To that end, I am very pleased that the U.S. will be following up on not only what the members of the G8 committed, but what they actually delivered.  In order for our new food security initiative to succeed, all pledges must have clear accountability mechanisms.

I believe that our own Feed the Future program, our global hunger and food security initiative, does just that.  Feed the Future focuses on small farmers, particularly women.  It helps countries to develop their agriculture sectors to generate opportunities for broad-based economic growth and trade, which in turn support increased incomes and help reduce hunger. It is strengthening strategic coordination to align the efforts of the private sector, civil society, and multilateral institutions.  And it is delivering on sustained and accountable commitments through robust monitoring and evaluation systems.  I look forward to hearing more about the Feed the Future success stories in the months to come, as USAID officials develop and release their accountability reports.

There are a few other elements of the program that I would just like to underscore as someone who cares very deeply about the status of women.  First, Feed the Future developed and launched the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index, a research method which measures the quantity and quality of gender integrated programs.  This is essential is we are to continue designing better development programs.

Second, Feed the Future has launched a fund to advance innovative approaches to promote gender equality in agriculture and land use and integrate gender effectively into agricultural development and food security programs.  And third, Feed the Future has harnessed the capabilities of other U.S. Government partners such as the Department of Agriculture to develop science-based solutions to many of the problems faced by women farmers.

Feed the Future is already working with the private sector in Africa – just recently USAID announced a unique, trilateral partnership between PepsiCo, USAID, and the World Food Program.  Through this partnership, they will provide a nutritionally fortified feeding product while helping to build long-term economic stability for smallholder chickpea farmers in Ethiopia by involving them directly in PepsiCo’s product supply chain.

Ending global hunger is a monumental task.  But when the leaders of the France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, Canada, Russia, and the United States join together with our African partners and the most powerful private sector and civil society organizations in the world, I believe it is one that we can achieve.

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