President Obama Focusing on African Food Security

Posted May 17th, 2012 at 7:10 pm (UTC-5)
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U.S. President Barack Obama is focusing on African food security Friday in Washington, and also highlighting it at the upcoming Group of Eight meeting.

The president is scheduled to speak to African leaders at a summit on food security Friday.

Friday's new initiative is expected to target 50 million food-insecure people by boosting agricultural investments. In sub-Saharan Africa, nearly 80 percent of food is still grown by small-scale farmers.

The issue is also on the agenda at the summit of the Group of Eight leading industrial nations outside Washington.

President Obama has invited Benin's President Boni Yayi, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, Ghana's President John Atta Mills and Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwere to the G-8 summit at the Camp David presidential retreat. The leaders are to have a working lunch Saturday during the G-8 talks.

Johnnie Carson, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State said President Obama, in working with the United Nations and the G-8, is determined to spotlight Africa's agricultural challenges and opportunities.

“Africa has enormous promise and potential in the agricultural field and there is absolutely no reason why the continent should be in a food deficit, why there should be insufficiency in the continent and why it can not in fact be a major agro-producer not only for Africa but also for export globally.”

A new United Nations report says that sub-Saharan Africa remains the world's most food insecure region, despite its accelerated economic growth, abundant agricultural land and favorable climate. The study, released earlier this week, says that although many sub-Saharan economies are growing fast, the growth rates have not yet translated into significant hunger reduction.