Obama Urged to Address Agriculture in Africa
July 10, 2009
Published in AfricaNews
The National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) is asking President Obama to address issues of rural poverty and agriculture in Africa during his visit to Ghana. Former Peace Corps volunteers and others who have lived and worked on the continent say one hopeful solution to rural poverty is agriculture.
Yet, farmers and their communities need better support and better tools to yield more food production and engage in sustainable agriculture practices.
The NPCA is a non-profit, membership-based alumni organization that serves all returned Peace Corps Volunteers and former staff, as well as Peace Corps family, friends, and supporters.
“If Obama were to address the issues facing rural Africa during his trip it would help show that the international community is focused on long-term growth and trying to create and improve the systems that have the greatest impact on everyday life,” said Abena Asare, a native of Ghana who is pursuing a PhD in African History at New York University and serves as a moderator with the National Peace Corps Association.
“It would show his commitment to getting the systems in place so that Africans can provide for themselves-it shows a long-term interest and vision compared to that of a short-term relief aid approach.”
This week Obama pledged to spend $15 billion in aid over the next three years to help the world’s poorest farmers. This money would come from the United States and the other G8 members: Britain, France, Germany, Russia, Italy, Canada and Japan.
Asare and the NCPA say this gesture shows Obama’s level of commitment and hope he will be behind the next push to empower farmers and help develop sustainable agriculture initiatives in Africa.
According to the World Bank, agricultural growth is twice as effective in reducing poverty as growth in any other sector. By improving agricultural strategies, financing rural infrastructure, supporting sustainable land and water management, the G8 funds focus on food insecurity in relation to sustainable African agricultural production rather than short-term problems of disbursing food aid.
The NPCA, which has long recognized the importance of sustainable agricultural development, will soon launch an innovative collaborative project to develop and highlight some of the best ideas on agricultural development coming from Africa and the African diaspora.
Using state- of-the-art technology, Africa Rural Connect (ARC) is a unique online community where Africa’s farmers, academics, and grassroots rural activists will come together to discuss possible solutions to the host of challenges facing African farmers at the beginning of the 21st century.
Set to launch on July 15, ARC is a venue that fosters the international partnerships and conversations necessary to ensure that $15 billion of international aid over the next three years will be able to transform agricultural capacity and food production throughout Africa.
Along with billions of dollars, the development of sustainable agriculture and food delivery systems in Africa requires that Africa’s farmers and rural communities are included in the discussion of how to translate international funding into successful development outcomes.
The ARC initiative ensures that Africa’s farmers are not just the recipients of increased international aid, but also architects of their own effective long-term solutions.
“I think it would have a huge impact on rural Africa to hear Obama address the issues that directly affect them,” adds Asare. “If Obama speaks to them it shows the rest of the world that they matter.”
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