Last week in Tokyo, Secretary Geithner pledged additional support for the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP), announcing that the United States is prepared to contribute $1 to GAFSP for every $2 committed by other donors, up to a total U.S. contribution of $475 million. At an event co-hosted by Japan and the World Bank at the IMF and World Bank annual meetings, Secretary Geithner called on donors from around the world to join in strengthening the Fund with additional financial support. Japan and Korea responded by each pledging $30 million to GAFSP at the event, and the Gates Foundation announced its intention to contribute additional resources to GAFSP.
"Today the United States is demonstrating once again its commitment to lead the global fight against hunger and malnutrition," Secretary Geithner said. "By investing in GAFSP, we will mobilize funding from a diverse range of sources and set into motion innovative programs that will help communities become more self-sufficient, farmers increase their productivity, and families climb out of poverty."
The United States spearheaded the creation of GAFSP in the wake of the 2007-2008 food price crisis, to help the world's poorest farmers grow more and earn more so they can lift themselves out of poverty. The program is already delivering results on the ground by supporting both public and private investments in agriculture, providing critical support in 18 countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America. In Sierra Leone, for example, GAFSP financing has underwritten the delivery of improved extension services to farmers to help them boost yields in key staple crops. GAFSP has also financed the rehabilitation of 250 kilometers of rural roads in Togo to better connect farmers to local markets and has provided 18,000 farmers with better access to improved seed varieties and fertilizer.
GAFSP is an integral part of Feed the Future, President Obama’s broader food security initiative. Since the President assumed office in 2009, he has made strengthening food security in low-income countries a U.S. development priority. With nearly one billion chronically hungry people around the planet, there is a strong moral reason for investing in agriculture. But there is a good economic reason, as well. Investments made in agriculture have been shown to be two to four times more effective at reducing hunger and poverty than investments in any other sector.
Kara Alaimo is Spokesperson for International Affairs at the U.S. Department of the Treasury.