Welcome, everyone. We’re so grateful to have our eight new Feed the Future target country partners here today.
President Biden announced the program’s expansion in July, as part of a wide-reaching effort to respond to the unprecedented global food security crisis.
The scale is staggering: 193 million people worldwide need humanitarian food assistance – driven largely by the climate crisis, COVID-19, and conflict. President Putin’s war on Ukraine could add another 70 million people to that total, according to the World Food Programme.
A crucial focus of addressing this crisis is getting aid to those whose lives depend on it. The United States has provided more than $11 billion in humanitarian and development assistance since February of this year alone, and we contribute more than 40 percent of WFP’s budget. We’re also rallying others to step up with us, as we did at the joint AU-EU Food Security Ministerial we co-chaired earlier this week.
Another focus is what we’re here today to discuss: accelerating the transformation of agriculture and food systems, so we can get at the root causes of this crisis and prevent others like it.
That’s the message I heard in May, when I convened a Food Security Ministerial at the UN, including several countries here today. In our discussions, many African leaders made clear that they want greater long-term investment in agricultural resilience, innovation, self-sufficiency.
In expanding Feed the Future, we’re responding to that call and demonstrating the U.S. commitment to contributing in concrete ways.
We began our partnerships with your eight countries not just because you’ve been hit hard by the current crisis – but also because of your potential to become agriculture powerhouses, feeding not just your own people, but others too. Over the next five years, we’ve committed to investing over $11 billion in countries around the world, which we’ll work with Congress to provide.
We use the word “partner” a lot, so let me take a moment to say what it means in Feed the Future.
Being a partner means countries and communities will be empowered to shape the programs they’re part of. It means focusing on what we will do with your nations and peoples, not for your nations and peoples.
That’s the approach at the heart of our new strategy for sub-Saharan Africa, which I set out last month in South Africa. And it’s an approach that aligns with African nations’ own vision of their development, as reflected in the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program, the Malabo Declaration, and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa.
Feed the Future has proven this approach can deliver. We’ve partnered with a dozen countries since 2010, and in every single one, nutrition has improved, food systems are more resilient, and farmers have greater access to global markets.
The initiative has protected nearly three and a half million children against stunted growth… generated $15 billion in additional agricultural sales… and lifted more than 23 million people out of poverty.
We’ve put more innovations in the hands of small-scale farmers, like the training and technology we provided to help 400,000 farmers in Nigeria boost productivity by 150 percent… one of the many USAID programs flourishing under Sam’s leadership.
Part of the reason our partnerships work is because they are built on decades of experience working together on these issues. And not just with governments, but also with NGOs, businesses, universities, farmers, fisheries.
These partnerships are also effective because they are integrated with other sustainable development initiatives we’re pursuing together. Mozambique will be one of the first partners of the newly launched Global Fragility Act, which will make a decade-long investment in promoting more peaceful, inclusive, resilient societies. In just a few weeks, the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation will sign a new compact with Malawi, building on years of prior investment.
Today gives us the chance to discuss key issues. lessons, and questions, so let me conclude with a few of those.
What are the specific areas where more expertise and cooperation would make the biggest difference in building better food systems?
How can we bring more women and young people into leading this agricultural transformation, so that the benefits reach all, and not just a few?
And what more would you like to see fellow Member States and the UN doing to tackle this challenge?
So, thanks everyone. I’m grateful you’re here. And I’m looking forward to the work we’ll do together for our people.