Administration's National Security Strategy includes boosting overseas ag production
By Jon H. Harsch
© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.
Washington, June 18 – The Obama administration's strategy for lifting one billion people out of chronic hunger and poverty includes continuing to ship U.S. commodities around the world while also supporting local agricultural production.
USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah told a National Press Club audience Friday that as part of President Obama's recently released National Security Strategy, USAID's mission is to “help prevent conflict, spur economic growth, strengthen weak and failing states, lift people out of poverty, combat climate change and epidemic disease, and strengthen institutions of democratic governance.” He said that carrying out this mission, to ensure that the world's poor have the chance to lead healthy, productive lives, “is not just our moral duty. It is an indispensable ingredient for global stability and prosperity.”
Dr. Shah explained that the mission is critical to U.S. national security because “Extreme poverty compromises basic human dignities, banishes hope for the future and paves the way for the rise of transnational extremism.” He noted that it's also more cost effective “to stem famine than to feed the starving.”
As an example of USAID's work today, he pointed to Afghanistan where he saw pomegranate orchards near Kandahar “springing back to life where USAID has helped communities to rebuild.” He said boosting local agricultural production is key because “Sustainable development is essential to sustainable national security.”
Shah confirmed that providing food assistance in emergency situations, such as following the earthquake in Haiti, will remain import. But he said that as part of U.S. policy, “we are redoubling our efforts to support local institutions and build local capacity. Working through local partners is often the most cost effective and sustainable way to invest our resources.”
For a report on the administration's Feed the Future initiative, go to: www.agri-pulse.com/20100520H1_Feed_the_Future.asp
For a report on this week's World Food Prize announcement, go to: www.agri-pulse.com/20100616H1_Vilsack_Food_Strategy.asp
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