Statement by John F. Sammis, United States Deputy Representative to ECOSOC, at the Sixty Fifth General Assembly Second Committee General Debate, on Agricultural Development and Food Security

Susan E. Rice
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations 
U.S. Mission to the United Nations 
New York, NY
October 28, 2010


Mr. Chairman, the United States welcomes the opportunity to offer our views on Agricultural Development and Food Security. We noted during last year’s debate that we were at an important moment in time as we approached the review of the Millennium Development Goals. We are pleased that much has since been accomplished. Recent FAO figures show that the actual number of people suffering from chronic hunger has decreased in 2010 to 925 million, despite continuing increases in the world’s population.

In September, President Obama announced a new U.S. global development policy, the first ever for a U.S. Administration, which places a premium on broad-based economic growth as the foundation for sustainable development. The bilateral U.S. Feed the Future Initiative reflects this new approach by helping countries accelerate inclusive agriculture sector growth through improved productivity, expanded markets and trade, and increased economic resilience in vulnerable rural communities.

Our food security efforts also highlight the importance of the cross-cutting issues of gender, environment, and climate change. Given the value of healthy ecosystems and natural resources for sustainable agriculture, the potential of climate change to negatively affect food security in some parts of the world, and the crucial but undervalued role that women play in agricultural production in the developing world, these issues will continue to be central concerns as we implement our food security strategy.

President Obama’s commitment at the G8 in L’Aquila, Italy in July 2009 of at least $3.5 billion to combat hunger over the course of three years has helped leverage and align more than $18.5 billion in commitments from other donors in support of a common approach to achieve sustainable food security. And the international community made further strides toward refining this common approach when all U.N. Member States last November endorsed a common set of principles, now called the Rome Principles, in a collective effort to combat the reality of global hunger and food insecurity.

It is critical that we maintain this momentum and that all countries – both donor and recipient – follow through on their commitments. We are pleased to be working with G8 and G20 countries, as well as with FAO, the World Bank, IFAD, the ADB and many other international partners to assist developing countries that have demonstrated their own commitments to develop comprehensive country-owned agriculture and food security investment plans.

To further advance our mutual goals, our government, working with Canada, Spain, the Republic of Korea, and the Gates Foundation launched the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP), housed at the World Bank, in April of this year. More recently, Australia and Ireland have contributed money to the Fund. The Fund is designed to provide financing for the agricultural development strategies of poor countries so that small holder farmers can grow and earn more. It represents a new model of cooperation that encompasses traditional and non-traditional donors; incorporates a governance structure that gives a voice to developing countries and civil society; and leverages the existing expertise of the multilateral development banks and UN food organizations.

But 925 million hungry people are still far too many. We need to continue to press forward on our efforts, even in these difficult economic times.

The Rome Principles emphasize the importance of investing in country-owned plans, and ten developing countries have created comprehensive agriculture strategies and investment plans as well as ECOWAS’ creation of a regional plan for West Africa.

In Africa, the African Union’s Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program has been widely adopted. Donor countries should reiterate their commitment to supporting and aligning what are likely to be diverse sources of assistance with country owned agriculture plans, and should also consider new funding to support such plans.

One of these important funding sources is the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program. The Fund has delivered rapid assistance, allocating $224 million to food security programs in five countries: Bangladesh, Haiti, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and Togo. An additional 20 countries have requested funding of nearly $1 billion from this innovative source. However, without new commitments to the Fund, most of these countries will be turned away. Therefore, it is vital that we secure a commitment from other donor partners to sustain and replenish the Fund in order to help ensure predictable financing. This support should be in the form of both financial and technical assistance.

In addition, the Fund should also function as a vehicle for promoting cooperation among developing countries in key areas critical to strengthening food security and reducing barriers to trade.

The private sector is critical to increasing the growth potential for the agricultural sector in developing countries. In addition to providing grants to governments, the Fund recently launched a private sector facility with initial pledges of $100 million. The private sector facility will promote the growth of competitive agribusiness sectors, with a special focus on smallholder farmers, including women. The private sector facility will become operational in the coming months and each dollar contributed by development partners is likely to leverage three times that amount from the private sector.

Resources are just part of the answer. We need to give farmers around the world the tools they need to increase production to meet the demands of a growing world population. Clearly the best way to achieve these increases is by making research and development a high priority. We call on our partners to increase investment in research and development, and deployment of new technologies and practices, that will increase incomes, improve nutrition, and strengthen resilience of the poor.

It is clear that there is more to food security than production of and access to food. Thus, it is vitally important that nutrition be a key component of food security. We were pleased to have partnered with Ireland and the UN system on last month’s event entitled “1,000 Days, Change a Life, Change the Future.” This forum examined the critical role that proper nutrition plays in a child development, from pregnancy through the first 2 years of his or her life.

The 1,000 Days event was a first step to jumpstart the global efforts in support of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Framework. We look forward to working together with other stakeholders to implement the SUN roadmap in the next 1,000 days. By the 2013 UNGA, we hope this alliance will show evidence that we've had an impact on national undernutrition indicators at the country level and we look forward to working with partner and donor countries to combat global food insecurity. The children of the world deserve nothing less.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


PRN: 2010/248