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Fact Sheet: USAID's Natsios on plan to end hunger in Africa

News and Press Release
Originally published
Johannesburg, South Africa - Saying that poverty reduction requires increasing agricultural productivity, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Andrew Natsios has introduced a $148 million Initiative to End Hunger in Africa and raise agricultural production there by 2015.
The initiative calls for partnerships with "committed" African leaders and their governments, regional and multilateral organizations and the private sector to work in support of a smallholder producer-oriented agricultural growth strategy.

Joining Natsios at the program's August 28 introduction at the World Summit for Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg were James Mosely, deputy secretary of agriculture, Connie Newman, USAID assistant administrator for Africa, and Emmy Simmons, USAID assistant administrator for economic growth, agriculture and trade and other U.S. officials.

The initiative was welcomed at the meeting by Francisco Reifschneider, director of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), and several African officials.

Its importance is that it focuses on helping small farmers, said Kisamba Mugerwa, Uganda's minister of agriculture. Uganda, one of the initial three countries the initiative targets, will house the East African Regional Hub for Global Competitiveness. The other target countries are Mozambique and Mali.

The initiative will help train and organize farmers to develop markets at the local level. "Then we can move into the national level, then sub-regional, regional and finally global markets," said Matallah Taore, counselor to Mali's minister of agriculture.

Following is a USAID fact sheet on the initiative:

(Note: In the following text, "billion" equals 1,000 million.)

(begin fact sheet)

Initiative to End Hunger in Africa

The Challenge

The problem of hunger in Africa is widespread, with 1 of 3 people currently undernourished. It is the only continent where the number of hungry is increasing. At the root of the problem of hunger in Africa is poverty. Low per capita income from agriculture is directly linked to hunger. Since poverty limits people's ability to purchase food while malnutrition and poor health limit their ability to earn income, poverty and hunger form a recurring cycle leading to a low-growth trap. As a significant step to reduce the number of impoverished and malnourished people in Africa, the United States will undertake an Initiative to End Hunger in Africa, increasing by over 25 percent -- to $148 million -- its efforts to raise agricultural production and reduce poverty by 2015. The initiative is a response to the concern over the low-growth trap in both the U.S. and African countries and the recognition by the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) that agriculture is the most important engine of economic growth for the continent.


This Initiative calls for a partnership with committed African leaders, with their governments, and with regional organizations to work and invest in support of a smallholder-oriented agricultural growth strategy. Long-term, substantial development in Africa also requires commitments from a wide array of partners, including other donors, the UN and other multilateral development institutions, the private sector, universities and other nongovernmental organizations. The United States will actively collaborate with these groups and our African partners in this effort, which the International Food Policy Research Institute predicts will require an additional $1.2 billion per year from all sources.


Achieving this goal requires a significant contribution from our African partners, who need to show a strong commitment to investment in the agricultural sector, evidence of a positive trend in their economic and agricultural performance indicators, and a supportive policy and institutional environment. Regional organizations are also expected to play an important role in building partnerships between neighboring countries, opening markets, and creating the mechanisms and opportunities for countries to gain mutual benefits from advances in science and technology. They will also have to work to improve competitiveness in global markets, and promote ties that allow them to respond quickly and effectively to food crises in the region.

Other Donors

A key aspect of this Initiative is engagement with the international development community to build support for an increased level of effort to develop African agriculture. Closely related to this is the need to create coherent strategies and programs with other donors and governments, harmonizing the development efforts of all of these diverse communities.


The Initiative calls upon the MDBs [multilateral development banks] to support both agricultural programs and the infrastructure necessary to promote more efficient markets and trade. Support for agricultural programs will be both relevant and important to their poverty reduction strategies. The Initiative will highlight the linkage of agriculture with other sectors and help create effective means to tackle poverty.

Private Sector

The expertise and resources of the private sector will be employed in technology transfer, trade and investment, and policy and regulatory reform to ensure that the Initiative is sustainable and that donor dependence is ultimately reduced. With the private sectors' growing capacity for research and implementation, new partnerships between African public R&D [research and development] institutions and the private sector can be forged to capture synergies and comparative advantages.

Universities and IARCs

Technological change is crucial for successful agricultural growth. U.S. universities and IARCs [international agricultural research centers] will supply these critically necessary innovations. In the short term, they can provide the technologies needed to increase production by the small farmers of disadvantaged regions. In the long term, they will support the institutional and human capacity development needed to increase Africa's own technological capabilities in the agricultural sciences and build a new global network of agricultural scientists.

In 2002, USDA [U.S. Department of Agriculture] Secretary Ann M. Veneman will host a ministerial-level international conference on agricultural science and technology highlighting the importance of partnerships for improving access to new technology.

The Strategy

The Initiative partnership will work to empower African farmers in key countries and regions by increasing their access to both new technologies and markets. The United States will contribute to the Initiative's efforts to harness science and technology for African farmers by increasing funding from $30.5 million to $53 million next fiscal year [FY2003]. We will also increase our investment to unleash the power of markets for Africa's small farmers by two-thirds, from $25 million to $37 million. The Initiative's goal is to double production of the basic food crops that make up African diets and increase family incomes.

Initial efforts will concentrate on a key country in each of three regions: Uganda in East and Central Africa, Mozambique in Southern Africa and Mali in West and Central Africa. These countries are leaders in policy reform, public investment, and government commitment to agricultural growth and poverty reduction. They are representative of the key economic and agricultural characteristics of their regions. These countries also have the greatest potential for rapidly influencing regional agricultural productivity and economic growth through trade and technology diffusion. The Initiative will be expanded in the future to include a total of nine countries.

Harnessing Science and Technology for African Agriculture

Africa needs a green revolution focused on the diverse crops and conditions that face African farmers. Science and technology can help bring more nutritious, higher yielding and stress-resistant varieties of such key staple crops as cassava, cowpea, banana, sorghum and maize, along with more productive livestock (beef, dairy, poultry) for growing urban populations, to African farmers. It will also help reduce seasonal risks faced by small farmers that often bring a "hungry season" fueling conflict. Increased production can raise household incomes, improve food security and provide a buffer against famine.

To reach this goal, the U.S. will invest new funds to develop and disseminate technology, train African agricultural leaders, improve access to science and technology and enhance micronutrients in staple crops by: -- Doubling the investment in developing and disseminating technologies appropriate to African agriculture. Key programs could include:

-- Expanding the Technology Applications for Rural Growth and Economic Transformation (TARGET) Program to improve farmers' management of crops, soils, livestock, and natural resources.

-- Increasing investment in long-term collaborative research with the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and U.S. universities to improve drought, disease and pest resistance in bananas and plantains, in addition to ongoing work on maize, cassava, cowpea, livestock and rice.

-- Encouraging other CGIAR donors to increase their contributions.

-- Investing in regional and national research program enhancements in the three target regions to improve seed and processing technologies for sorghum, rice, maize, bean, root crops, potato and sweet potato, and vegetables.

-- Helping shape the new generation of African agricultural leaders and scientists by investing in:

-- Short-term and degree training programs in the United States.

-- Linkages between U.S. universities and key African national and regional universities and research institutions.

-- Degree-granting distance training programs at the major agricultural universities in each of the three target regions.

-- An expanded USDA Cochran Fellowship Program supporting U.S. study tours and short-term training of African scientists, policy makers and other decision-makers.

-- Providing access to the tools of modern biotechnology through:

-- USAID's new Collaborative Agricultural Biotechnology (CABIO) initiative, which will initially invest in additional research on improved varieties of banana, maize, cowpeas and cassava; in building national biotechnology research programs at the request of the governments of Uganda and Mali; and in helping to establish research and policy programs at the request of regional organizations in West, Eastern and Southern Africa.

-- The African Agricultural Technology Foundation, a partnership between USAID, the Rockefeller Foundation, Monsanto, Dupont/Pioneer, Dow Agrosciences, Syngenta, and Aventis, that will begin operation in 2003 to help develop and disseminate new varieties of Africa-specific crops by assuming licenses from industry, managing sublicenses, assuming legal liability for licensed technology and providing high quality project management oversight.

-- Improving the micronutrient content of basic African foods by expanding research, development and dissemination of three key biofortified crops -- enhanced vitamin A, iron and zinc maize; enhanced iron and zinc beans; and vitamin A enhanced sweet potato -- working in part through a contribution to CGIAR's Challenge Program on Biofortification.

Unleashing the Power of Markets for Africa's Small Farmers

Globalization, trade liberalization and demographic trends are leading to growing markets, as well as new opportunities for African farmers. In the near term, regional cooperation and integration of commercial systems will boost trade, help meet local food needs and create opportunities for agricultural growth. In the longer run, regionalization will attract investment and increase competitiveness and efficient in agriculture, helping African producers compete in world markets.

Our agricultural market and trade development efforts will concentrate on agricultural policy reform, regional integration, agricultural trade infrastructure and information systems and agricultural trade capacity building. We will work directly with the three Regional Hubs for Global Competitiveness President Bush announced last year for East, West and Southern Africa. Programs will be oriented toward rural communities and small holding producers and results will be measured by growing household incomes and the increased value and volume of internal and regional agricultural trade.

-- Agricultural policy reform and regional integration. We will fund programs to:

-- Improve regional agricultural policy networks that strategically analyze policy impediments to greater production and marketing efficiencies in the agricultural and transportation sectors of respective countries, promote harmonization of key agricultural policies, and encourage regional reforms.

-- Support national agricultural policy reform to remove trade-distorting tariffs and credits.

-- Improve and harmonize agricultural grades and standards programs.

-- Agricultural trade infrastructure and information systems where we will invest to:

-- Expand our program to develop community-based quality improvement centers that increase rural smallholder access to regional and global markets and build linkages with business.

-- Use PL-480 Food for Work programs to construct, rehabilitate and maintain farm-to-market roads.

-- Help develop market information and decision support systems for agriculture and target investment in agricultural market infrastructure.

-- Agricultural trade capacity building where we will invest to:

-- Develop 530 more producer organizations in Uganda, Mali and Mozambique, strengthening both their business capacity and their effectiveness in advocating policy changes.

-- Improve the ability of the three focus countries to meet sanitary and phytosanitary standards, including support for the establishment of better processing and production methods; testing, inspection, certification and approval procedures; statistical methods and sampling procedures; risk assessment methods; and quarantine treatment.

(end fact sheet)

(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)