The New Times (Kigali)

21 May 2012

Rwanda: G8 to Help 50 Million Africans Out of Poverty

Group of 8 (G8) leaders have pledged to promote investments in sustainable agriculture as a strategy of uplifting millions of Africans out of poverty.

"Today we commit to launch a New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition to accelerate the flow of private capital to African

agriculture, take to scale new technologies and other innovations that can increase sustainable agricultural productivity, and reduce the risk borne by vulnerable economies and communities," the Group of Eight major industrial nations said on Saturday, in a statement

released after a high-profile gathering on a range of topics.

"This New Alliance will lift 50 million people out of poverty over the next decade."

The ambitious announcement came a day after US President Barack Obama reached out to the private sector for financial support for the cause.

In Rwanda, at least 1 million people have been lifted out of poverty over the last five years, according to the Rwandan Household Living Conditions Survey, released by the government earlier this year. Economic growth between 2006 and 2011 reduced the number of the country's 11 million people living in poverty from 57 to 45 per cent, according to official figures.

The G8 initiative also comes as pledges expire from 2009 in L'Aquila, Italy, where the leaders of some of the world's leading economies

promised more than $20 billion over three years to improve food access to Africans through rural development.

The Rome Principle highlighted the need to invest in comprehensive country-led food security and agriculture development plans, also

known as Country Investment Plans (CIPs).

A new report ranks Canada first when it comes to G8 countries fulfilling pledges made at international summits.

Under the auspices of the Rwanda's CIP, the United States Government agriculture interventions, for instance, focus on reducing

post-harvest loss to allow household income from farming to increase.

The programmes are also geared towards assisting the country in improving productivity of maize and beans as well as increasing market access for the sale of these crops through investing in feeder roads and co-funding hillside terracing.

UK's funding, among other things, goes to research, seen as a key to increasing agricultural productivity in Africa.

The research is dedicated to helping poor farmers adapt to climate change, improve yields, and access new technology.

Both the G8 statement and Obama's speech reiterated the global commitment to ensuring food security.

President Obama announced that they had formed a new alliance to focus on food security with African leaders and the private sector.

The UK and other G-8 nations as well as African countries, aid agencies and multinational companies will take part in the New

Alliance for Food and Nutrition Security, it was announced.

The UK's department for international development explained that 45 leading firms, including Diageo, Unilever and Vodafone, will invest $4 billion (£2.5 billion) in developing African agriculture and sign up to a new code of responsible investment.

The head of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), Rajiv Shah, told reporters earlier that the move showed commitment to boosting world food production as rising wealth in Asia drives consumption.

"By taking this new approach, we believe that it's possible to move 50 million people out of the condition of poverty and hunger," he said. Civil society observers, and relief organisations, however, appeared sceptical about the commitments.

"The G8 have offered warm words on food security but have failed to make a specific pledge to simply maintain L'Aquila level financial

commitments going forward," said Katie Campbell, senior policy analyst for ActionAid USA.

"In failing to deliver this, they have turned their backs on the women smallholder farmers who are so vital to food security in Africa."

Oxfam claimed that input from those directly concerned had not been taken into consideration.

"Poor countries have presented the G8 country-led, sustainable, and coordinated plans for food security and agricultural development, but today the G8 gave them the cold shoulder," Lamine Ndiaye, the group's Pan Africa Head of Economic Justice, said in a statement.

"....Without specific goals and a timeline, we are concerned that nutrition will not be placed at the centre of the New Alliance's

approach and food security plans. The 170-million children at risk this year of being stunted from chronic malnutrition cannot afford delays," World Vision said in a statement.

"The G8 leaders have been very clear that they want to link their investments to nutrition and food security. The measure of success in 10 years cannot just be growth of agricultural production or even economies. It has to be measured by the survival, growth and health of children."

According to the G8 statement, the initiative would, among other things, be guided by "a collective commitment to invest in credible, comprehensive and country-owned plans."

The Norwegian global firm Yara said it would build Africa's first major fertiliser production facility as part of the initiative.

Companies including Pepsi and Dupont have also pledged to invest in Africa's small-scale farmers.

The leaders of France, Germany, the US, the UK, Italy, Japan, Canada and Russia met at Camp David in the US state of Maryland.

The leaders of Benin, Ethiopia, Ghana, Tanzania and President of the African Development Bank, Dr Donald Kaberuka, attended the G-8 meeting on food security.

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