By Gayle Smith and Dr. Rajiv Shah
Gayle Smith is Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director at the National Security Council and Dr. Rajiv Shah is USAID Administrator. This item was originally posted on the White House Blog.
This weekend, the leaders of the world’s largest economies and four African heads of state will come together at the 2012 G8 Summit at Camp David for a very different kind of discussion on Africa. Joined by private sector leaders for the first time, the President will host a dynamic discussion on global efforts to fight food insecurity and improve nutrition. In 2009 at the G8 Summit in L’Aquila, Italy, President Obama and G8 leaders responded to the spike in world food prices and focused attention on strengthening food security to help countries end hunger. Reversing decades of decline in global agricultural development, L’Aquila committed leaders to supporting comprehensive plans designed by the developing countries themselves and built around smarter, more focused investments.
This weekend, the G-8 and African partners will launch the next phase of these efforts: theNew Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition. The New Alliance is a commitment by G8 nations, African countries and private sector partners to lift 50 million people out of poverty over the next 10 years through inclusive and sustained agricultural growth.
Across history, the private sector has served as an engine of growth and transformation in nearly every country in the world. But although foreign direct investment flows to Africa now hover around $80 billion and trade has tripled over the last decade, this private sector boom has largely missed Africa’s agricultural economy.
This transformation – from aid alone to aid AND private investment; from just providing assistance to combining assistance and investment – is at the heart of our approach to the next steps of food security and why we’re placing such an emphasis on bringing in private capital and expanding access to markets.
More than 45 private sector firms—from large multinational companies like Yara International to small local businesses like Ethiopia’s Omega Farms—have stepped forward to invest more than $3 billion in African agriculture. And building on a decade of strong leadership, African countries are committing to specific policy reforms that shape a better environment for business.
Alongside them, donor countries are seeking to maintain their investments and accelerate implementation of country-owned plans. We are also supporting new advances in science and technology, like highly nutritious seeds that can withstand droughts and thrive in floods, and new tools to help poor farmers manage risk. And the New Alliance is elevating an emphasis on undernutrition, which robs children of their lifelong potential and undermines investments in education, health and economic growth.
With this smart approach, working together, we can deliver real results for millions of families and help build a safer, more prosperous future for us all.