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World Ag Congress : World Ag Congress
10 World Agricultural Forum 2009 Congress There are a billion people who are hungry today. In the sub terrain of Africa one out of every three people is malnourished. In Southeast Asia there are 400 million people in rural villages in extreme poverty. Our goal has to be to bring people out of poverty so that they can realize the fullness of their potential. We know the underlying challenges: population increase and insufficient agricultural productivity. On a short term, none of us are going to alter population growth, but we can do something about productivity. Norman Borlaug, who was a professor at the University of Minnesota when I was a student there, has predicted that this planet needs to produce as much food in the next 50 years as we have produced in the last 10,000. That is a challenge beyond challenges, but the U.S. envisions a world in which all people have reliable access to safe, nutritious and affordable food. THREE POINT PLAN At the G20 President Obama proposed a three point plan: food aid, capacity building, and developmental assistance. Food aid is imperative. We are obligated to provide food for those who need it most and the U.S. is the world's leading food aid provider. But food aid is generally short term and it is not a sufficient solution. No government, no NGO, can feed a billion people, so we need to look at President Obama's other long-term strategy: capacity building and development. At the G20, President Obama proposed doubling U.S. agricultural development efforts in poor countries and at the G8 meeting of agricultural ministers the ministers declared that agricultural develop- ment will lead the way to permanent solution to food insecurity. There are two major elements of human and economic development. The first is that it has to be compre- hensive; we need to deal with agriculture and education and jobs and health care and clean water. The second is that local people at the village level must be fully engaged. In my view, education is the foundation to development. Kids need to learn but they cannot learn if they are hungry. Consequently, school feeding programs and early childhood nutrition are critical. Higher education is also an emphasis and at the USDA we have Cochran fellows. There have been 13,000 international participants from 121 countries over the last years, and we also have a Norman Borlaug research fellowship which provides technical assistance for agricultural and rural development. There have been 360 fellows from 49 countries over the life of that program. Ag is the predominant economic activity in rural communities. We have to increase agricultural productivity and growth, and increase rural incomes. That brings me back to biotechnology. Increase yields. Decrease water use. Decrease pesticides. Decrease fertilizer. We need to use the science that is available to us, to help feed this planet. PEOPLE IN CHARGE The second major element of human and economic development, is that local people must be in charge. There is always a requirement for top-down pressure, but local people must be in charge of their development. Outsiders are important whether they be governments or NGOs or PVOs, but the role they play is one of catalyst, facilitator, encourager or supporter. Local people must decide how their development is going to occur. It will not matter what all of us in this room say. It matters what that 50-year-old woman farmer with her grandbaby on her back who is out hoeing her front lawn says, and we need to listen. America should always respect, nurture, and never stipple local initiatives and local leadership and I think that gets us part of the way. The other part of the way is just recognizing that there is enormous wisdom in that 50-year-old grandma who may never have attended school. We need to rely on her wisdom as we bring technical assistance and other programs to her so that she can improve her agricultural productivity and increase her income and equal the economic wealth of her village. Some people ask why we should we spend our money on someone else's human and economic develop- ment? First, it is just the right thing to do. Second, it is the smart thing to do. Food security is inextricably tied to economic security and economic security is tied to national security. Improved livelihoods of the poor will advance the national security interest of the U.S. and the national security interest of every country in the world. And third, it is good business. Developing countries are the source of new products, new markets and new trading partners. I ask American traders to remember ten, 20, 30 years ago, and the difference then and now with our trading partners in China, India, Mexico, Indonesia, and Brazil, all of whom have grown tremen- dously as trading partners. President Obama said we can no longer afford indifference to the suffering outside our borders nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to affect, for the world has changed and we must change with it. WAF REMARKS BY BUD PHILBROOK, DEPUTY UNDERSECY FOR FARM AND FOREIGN AGRICULTURAL SVCS, USDA U.S.'S APPROACH TO FOOD SECURITY Bud Philbrook