Obama touts $3B plan for food security

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President Obama announced a new public-private partnership to help African farmers and fight hunger and malnutrition in a speech Friday ahead of the the Group of Eight summit at Camp David.

With Irish rock star and humanitarian activist Bono in the front row of the audience, the president said a consortium of agribusiness giants including DuPont, Monsanto and Cargill, along with smaller African-based companies would commit $3 billion for projects assisting farmers in the developing world to create local markets and improved supply chains.

Along with the need to address “unacceptable” starvation, Mr. Obama said fighting hunger in impoverished areas benefits American companies by expanding the world market and advancing world peace.

‘It’s a moral imperative, it’s an economic imperative and it’s a security imperative,” he said, noting that Africa once was an exporter of agricultural products.

“There is no reason why Africa cannot feed itself,” he added.

Most of this weekend’s G-8 summit at the presidential retreat at Camp David will focus on the deepening economic crisis in Europe, including worries over Greece and the future of the euro, as well as Iran’s nuclear program and the effectiveness of the sanctions the U.S. and its allies have imposed on Tehran.

Mr. Obama also wants to build on the work of the 2009 summit in L’Aquila, Italy, which sought to mobilize $22 billion over three years to increase investments in poor countries and improve food security.

But many countries have yet to fulfill the financial food security pledges they made in 2009, and the G-8 leaders will release an “accountability report’ this weekend detailing how much of those funds are still outstanding. Administration officials said the U.S. has fulfilled its obligations, and the new public-private partnership does not call for further U.S. investments.

The heads of four African countries — Benin, Ethiopia, Ghana and Tanzania — will join Mr. Obama and the other G-8 leaders at Camp David on Saturday for a session on food security.

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