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'Feed the Future' is central to US foreign policy: Clinton

June 17, 2010 09:49 IST

With the number of people suffering from hunger globally crossing the one billion mark, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said that America's new policy "Feed the Future" is central to the US foreign policy now.

Part of a global effort that could benefit some 40 million people over a decade, "Feed the Future" will focus on improving the agricultural systems of at least 20 countries, where the US would help develop Green Revolution on the pattern of that of India in 1960s.

At the 2010 World Food Prize Laureate announcement ceremony at the State Department in Washington, Clinton said that US is committed to fight the twin afflictions of hunger and poverty.

"We want to strengthen every link in the farming chain from improving the seeds that farmers plant in their fields to helping create thriving food markets, to promoting nutrient-rich crops so people get the nourishment that they need to thrive, especially mothers and children," she said.

Jo Luck, president of Heifer International and David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, has been selected for the 2010 World Food Prize.

"In a few decades, the world's population will grow to 9 billion people. If we are to feed the future without leveling the forests, draining the aquifers and depleting the soil of all its nutrients, we need science," Clinton said as she announced the Norman Borlaug Commemorative Research Initiative, to leverage the work of its scientists to benefit farmers in developing countries worldwide.

"As part of Feed the Future, research investments will focus on priorities that advance the productivity frontier, transform production systems and enhance nutrition and food safety.  Research in these areas will help solve problems and provide smallholder farmers with the opportunity to harness the latest scientific discoveries," Clinton said.

"More than ever before, research investments will be tied to national and regional development programs that work to disseminate scientific innovations to agricultural producers by providing critical investments in extension, the seed and fertilizer industries, markets, and trade.

Feed the Future will leverage the expertise and resources of USAID and USDA to establish the Norman Borlaug Commemorative Research Initiative," she said.

The Borlaug Initiative will span the USDA's research agencies, increasing its relevance and impact on problems and opportunities faced by both US farmers and smallholder farm families in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

US Agency for International Development Administrator Rajiv Shah said, "Countries asked us for continued investments in new agriculture tools and technologies through increased investments in research.

We are responding to their requests by redoubling our efforts to fight poverty and hunger through research and innovation and significantly expanding our research partnership with US Department of Agriculture."

Noting that she has asked for a nearly 50 per cent increase in funding for international agricultural research in 2011, Clinton said US wants to target those investments at specific research breakthroughs that, if successful, will not only help save and improve lives, but raise incomes for farmers and generate growth across Africa, Asia, and other parts of the world.

"Today's announcement is one example of the concrete actions and steps the US Government is taking to really win the war against hunger. In announcing this programme, we're doing a number of things differently in how we fund and how we partner with other countries in making agricultural technologies accessible to some of the smallest and most vulnerable production communities in the world," Shah said.

"Over the past year, we have had an extraordinary all-hands-on-deck effort. Not only our experts in Washington but our embassies have taken the lead on the ground. I've travelled to promote the importance of food security to our global agenda from the UN General Assembly to India, to Kenya, to Brazil, Ireland, and, of course, last year's World Food Prize announcement ceremony," Clinton said.

In South and Southeast Asia, Clinton said good research being done on rice, and with US support, research at UC-Davis and the International Rice Research Institute are developing strains of rice that thrive even when they have been submerged in water.

"We're funding researchers from American universities and private-sector companies here in our country as well as in India who are developing rice that keeps growing though long droughts. I saw some of that firsthand when I was in India," Clinton said.

Lalit K Jha in Washington
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