Advancing Food Security at the 2012 G8 Summit

New program to be announced to identify ways business, civil society, and international organizations can complement G8 action on ag research.

Published on: May 18, 2012

Food security has been a top priority for President Barack Obama since he came into office. The President, with G8 and African leaders, businesses, international organizations and civil society will convene to discuss new activities to advance global agricultural development, food and nutrition security in Africa.

As the G8 Summit fires up this weekend in Camp David, President Obama will be rolling out details of this next phase. Essentially he will announce a public-private partnership geared toward continued support of economic development aimed at enhancing food security in Africa, where there has already been some success since the L'Aquila initiative in 2009.

PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP: G8 leaders to advance moves aimed at boosting food security in Africa during summit that starts Friday.
PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP: G8 leaders to advance moves aimed at boosting food security in Africa during summit that starts Friday.

"The G8 Summit and this announcement will really seek to maintain and extend those commitments. It will seek to maintain the high level of investments in agriculture," said USAID Administrator Raj Shah. He points out that the 2009 summit was "the first time in decades that the world came together and made real commitments to reinvest in agriculture and nutrition as the solution to food insecurity."

Shah explains that today's announcement will seek to maintain and extend those commitments, including maintenance of the high level of public investment in agriculture. But it will also seek to continue the "transition of aid programs through country-led plans and efforts, primarily [to] prioritize those things that countries themselves are investing in and belive are most valuable to help themselves move out of poverty and hunger."

Shah notes that President Obama will announce a new alliance for food security and nutrition designed to bring people together to expand private sector investments against the goal of reducing hunger and poverty. "Private sector companies - we estimate nearly 45 of them - will make clear and concrete commitments to invest more than $3 billion in agricultural projects and programs that will help reach millions of small-scale farmers - most of whom are women - improve their product and improve their outcomes," he says.

In addition, extraordinary new steps have been taken with much more private sectors in trade both local and internationally to address food security. This new alliance for food security and nutrition designed to bring people together to expand private sector investments against the goal of reducing hunger and poverty. "By taking this new approach, we believe that it's possible to move 50 million people out of the condition of poverty and hunger, and will additionally create accountability systems to make sure that we're both achieving that target goal and holding all of our partners and ourselves accountable for the commitments that are being made."

The private commitments being made in this effort, from the 45 different private sector organizations will be made up by half from African companies and entrepreneurs and businesses, and the remainder from partners from around the world. "We don't know the exact total…it will be more than $3 billion."

During the briefing Shaw alluded to specific private partnership involvement from Vodaphone providing 500,000 small-scale farmers with SMS text-based services that will allow them to ascertain local market prices; to a commitment by DuPont to provide business management and crop breeding expertise.

As another example, Syngenta announced this morning a commitment to target $1 billion in sales in the next 10 years, which will require an investment of more than $500 million in the region.

This weekend an accountability report on the original 2009 program and the commitments made, and paid, by countries and other partners will also be released. This report will provide transparency to this program which has been a significant boost to developing food resources and helping enhance food security in Africa. More work is ahead, but this time with that public/private partnership.

The Symposium on Global Agriculture and Food Security will be streamed live at www.livestream.com/thechicagocouncil.com or you can follow along on twitter at #globalag.