As prepared for delivery
I am honored to join you today to help launch the first U.S-India-Africa triangular training program on “New Dimensions in Agricultural Extension Management.” It is a true privilege to celebrate our new collaboration with the prestigious National Institute of Agricultural Extension Management (MANAGE). The occasion marks an important moment in the long history of food security collaboration between the United States and India. This event represents another important step in our ever broadening strategic partnership on global food security and nutrition.
For more than half a century, scientists, engineers, and social innovators from India and the United States have worked side-by-side to address critical development challenges in food production, health, education, and energy. The best-known outcome of our collaboration is the “Green Revolution,” which swept across India and Southeast Asia between the 1940s and late 1970s. Together, India and the United States improved agricultural technologies, agricultural education, and agricultural research capacities and saved millions of lives here and around the world. I can think of few such powerful success stories in the history of development cooperation.
The Green Revolution relied upon a shared vision and shared goals. Food-deficient nations became more food secure after India and the United States worked together to sustain international collaborative engagements, increase investment in science and technology, and scale-up research breakthroughs. As the quality and quantity of food have significantly improved, hunger has declined. As farmers’ incomes have increased, women, children, and the most vulnerable have better access to the food necessary for their survival, and they can also invest in their children’s education. Targeted investments in food and nutrition security have helped bring millions out of poverty and hunger, and agriculture continues to be a key driver of growth and development today.
Now, India and the United States have another critical opportunity to work together. Despite the progress made since the Green Revolution, 870 million people still go to bed hungry every day, most of whom live in developing countries in Africa and Asia. Women, children, and the most vulnerable members of society are still the most adversely affected by hunger and poverty. Climate change is a growing global challenge, as are the related issues of shrinking natural resources, a decline in per capita cultivable land, and rising demands for food. Global partnerships, investments in research, and “game-changing” innovative solutions are needed to address these and similar challenges. Our joint collaboration over the last fifty years proves that solutions to address hunger and undernutrition are not beyond our reach.
The time to focus on food security and nutrition is now.
In the words of President Obama, “History teaches us that one of the most effective ways to pull people and entire nations out of poverty is to invest in their agriculture.” At the L’Aquila G8 Summit in 2009, President Obama focused the world’s attention to revive global investment in agricultural development to reduce global poverty. Stemming from that 2009 pledge, Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative, represents our contribution to the global commitment to address food and nutrition security and re-defines the way we work to address those issues around the world today. Feed the Future efforts are driven by country-led priorities and rooted in partnership with donor organizations, the private sector, and civil society to enable long-term success.
To reach the most vulnerable communities, the initiative focuses on smallholder farmers, particularly women, and supports partner countries in developing their agriculture sectors to spur economic growth, increase incomes, and reduce hunger and undernutrition. The initiative also aligns resources behind science, technology, and innovations that improve the access, availability, and use of food.
We are proud to work with India as a strong partner related to the Feed the Future initiative for at least three reasons. The first is history. India’s own trajectory of development is even more widely known than our historical collaboration in the Green Revolution. Indeed, India’s economic growth over the past few decades should be highlighted for helping lift tens of millions out of poverty. A second reason pertains to innovation. India is becoming a hub for low-cost, effective local innovations that can address complex development challenges, not just within the country, but also in developing countries around the world. The third reason is the future of development cooperation. Now more than ever before, India plays an important role as a development partner, as highlighted by the Millennium Alliance for global development inaugurated in 2011 by USAID, India’s Technology Development Board, and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry. Significant government and private sector investments from India can help promote economic growth in neighboring and African countries. India and the United States, as partners, are in a strong position to leverage our combined experience, expertise, and resources to reduce global hunger.
Building on the historic legacy of cooperation between India and the United States during the Green Revolution, we are now working together to develop, test, and replicate transformative technologies as part of what President Obama has described as the “Evergreen Revolution.” In close collaboration with host country governments, both our countries have agreed to adapt and share innovations, technologies, and expertise to build capacity and extend food and nutrition security, initially in three countries: Kenya, Liberia, and Malawi.
Today, we celebrate another milestone in our strategic partnership with India with the triangular partnership here at MANAGE, which aims to improve agricultural productivity, strengthen agricultural value chains, and support market institutions in Kenya, Liberia, and Malawi. Through the training provided by MANAGE, 180 agriculture professionals from these three countries will be trained in India over the next two years. After their training, these professionals will go home with new networks, questions, and potential innovations to address their domestic challenges in food and nutrition security.
Other Feed the Future programs are designed to complement and scale-up the knowledge-sharing and technical capacity-building integral to the MANAGE training highlighted here today. For example, U.S. collaboration with the Rural Hubs of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) seeks to overcome specific bottlenecks in agricultural value chains in the most difficult and underdeveloped areas of India. Together, the U.S. and CII will share “lessons learned” on modern technologies and methods of production with African farmers, who still struggle to access markets. Also, just last month, the U.S. and India launched another innovative program, called the “India-Africa Agriculture Innovations Bridge Program.” By sharing agricultural innovations, this “Bridge” aims to increase agricultural productivity in priority value chains, increase access to diverse and quality foods, and enhance climate resilience in agricultural production. All these programs have a common goal, namely: to share proven agriculture innovations from India’s private and public sector to address food insecurity, undernutrition, and poverty in the target African countries.
We have reason to anticipate promising results from our triangular engagement.
As landmark initiatives, the MANAGE training program, CII partnership, and the India-Africa Agriculture Innovations Bridge will at once pave the way for future partnerships between our two countries, and also serve as a model for strategic engagement on global food and nutrition security. Working together, we are determined to make significant progress toward ending hunger and poverty in our lifetimes, one step at a time.
Thank you for your attention.