World Cocoa Foundation Partnership with the USDA Norman E Borlaug Fellowship Program Recognized at the AGOA Conference in Nairobi, Kenya
Entry: Bill Guyton
We were pleased that the partnership forged with the USDA Norman E. Borlaug Fellowship Program and the World Cocoa Foundation was recognized in a speech delivered by US Secretary of Agriculture, Vilsack in Nairobi, Kenya. Here is the text of the speech:
NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug. 5, 2009 - U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack
today addressed attendees of the African Growth and Opportunity Act
Forum and discussed the Obama Administration's efforts to enhance global
food security. He also highlighted the USDA's ongoing food security
efforts in Africa and other places throughout the world which is focused
on building the agricultural industry in developing countries.
Below is Secretary Vilsack's speech as prepared for delivery:
"I, like virtually all Americans, have never known what it means to be
hungry. I have never experienced hunger like so many on this continent
have. So, it is difficult for me to come here today to talk about how to
address the growing number of hungry in your region.
"So, I come here to listen. To listen and learn from each of you. To
hear your experiences, how you have dealt with hunger in your own life
or that of a loved one. Ideas you may have to address this issue in your
own countries and how the United States may assist you to create a truly
food secure environment.
"President Obama said it right in his Ghana speech: "The true sign of
success is not whether we are a source of perpetual aid that helps
people scrape by, it's whether we are partners in building the capacity
for transformational change." I too believe that we need a
transformational change if we are to establish food security across the
"In 2000 when AGOA passed we did not foresee the possibility that so
soon after, in 2008, our world would experience a global food crisis
that would affect 1 billion people, 265 million of them in Africa. And a
large number of these hungry are children.
"Yesterday, I visited a school in Kibera where many of the children are
orphans. With this, I can relate. I too was an orphan. Although my
situation was vastly different, I now appreciate all of the
opportunities afforded to me that enabled me to realize my full
potential. These children and so many others will only be able to
realize their full potential if they have regular access to food. Hungry
children simply will not develop as fully as they should and therefore,
will not be as productive a member of the world community. This affects
not only the individual child, it affects the community in which that
child is raised, the country he or she lives, and all of the world.
"We are all affected in some way by this issue, whether it is the actual
child that regularly goes to sleep hungry, or the family half way across
the globe that does not face the same issues. Understanding this must be
a part of the planning involved to address this issue. The practice of
the past - focusing our efforts on providing food aid - is not enough.
"We need a comprehensive approach focused on sustainability. We must
address not only increasing availability of food by helping people and
countries produce what they need, we must make food accessible to those
who need it, and teach people to utilize it properly so that they make
the most of it.
"Plans must be country-led. Food security efforts must be country-driven
and focused at the local and community level. Farmers in small villages
are responsible for much of the food produced globally and must be fully
engaged at the earliest stages of the process for planning agriculture
"We do not propose to come here and tell you how things should work. Our
efforts should be focused on listening to you tell us what will work
best for you. Each of your countries has unique cultures, unique
experiences and unique issues related to food insecurity. Likewise, any
plan to move your countries towards true food security must be uniquely
tailored to fit your needs and respect your cultures and heritages.
"Africa should be proud of the fact that not only has the United States
recognized the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme
(CAADP) as the model framework for such a country-led plan, but so has
"Efforts must be long-term. Quick fixes are not enough. We must make
investments that will create a real and sustainable difference and chart
a path for success in the future. With 75 percent of the population in
Sub-Saharan Africa employed and involved in agriculture, developing the
agriculture economy will be critical to providing opportunities for the
"Plans must be coordinated. Efforts should maximize success by engaging
multi-lateral institutions and processes. Our strategies must deal with
increasing agriculture production. A number of things could help
countries increase output including seed technology, the establishment
of appropriate uses of fertilization, the applications of critical land
management techniques, and the creation of a strong post-harvest
"Women must be an integral part of this effort. In Kenya alone, women
produce more than half of the agricultural product. To carry out
President Obama's effort successfully, we must focus on women farmers as
they will be important and integral participants.
"And to establish integrity of the effort not only in the country
implementing the plan but around the world, thereby enhancing future
investment, good government and transparent practices must be in place
"The global community has increased its commitment to ending food
insecurity. At the G-8 Summit, leaders of the eight largest countries
agreed food security is an international problem and they committed to
increase international assistance for agricultural development to $20
billion over next three years.
"And President Obama recently asked Congress to double its commitment to
global agricultural production in 2010. USDA is playing a large role and
will play an even larger role to establish food security across the
"Some examples of USDA's activities here in Africa include helping
governments develop trade capacity by building relationships with
stakeholders including international standard-setting bodies,
international and regional organizations to help countries implement
open, market- and science-based trade policies.
"We have given technical expertise to help address issues such as
sanitary compliance in food safety and animal and plant health, with
advisors on the ground in Dakar, Senegal; Pretoria, South Africa and
right here in Nairobi.
"And USDA's Bourlaug International Science Fellows Program has partnered
with non-profit and for-profit organizations to identify new
agricultural techniques for cocoa cultivation and to control cocoa
"Helping people grow food to feed themselves is the first step on path
to produce goods that can be exported and provide benefits to growers
and the communities in which they live. We commend the efforts of the
regional economic communities to develop innovative solutions and aid
countries in the region.
"We continue to encourage these regional economic communities and
African governments to pursue interregional trade as a means to combat
food insecurity and hope to see more developments such as the free trade
zone that resulted out of the Tripartite between the East African
Community, Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa and South
African Development Community.
"USDA has the capacity to greatly enhance the agricultural capacity of
developing countries. And we know that many of these efforts cannot be
completed by the United States or Sub-Saharan Africa, alone.
"Transformational change is not easy. It will be difficult, but change
often is. You will face many obstacles, many detractors and many people
telling you "this can't be done." Each of you is a messenger of this
change. Each of you is on the front line of one of the most important
battles facing this planet. Working together I hope we can ensure a
better future for the people of Sub-Saharan Africa and all those that
face the issue of food insecurity around the world.
"Thank you for allowing me to listen and learn about the ways in which
we can assist this region become secure and prosperous in the coming