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U.S. Officials Announce New Agriculture Research Initiative To Aid Farmers In Developing Countries

Citing USAID’s Feed the Future initiative as “central” to U.S. foreign policy, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Wednesday announced plans to “leverage the work” of U.S. researchers to “benefit farmers in developing countries worldwide,” PTI/The Hindu reports. During the 2010 World Food Prize ceremony Clinton said, “In a few decades, the world’s population will grow to 9 billion people. If we are to feed the future without leveling the forests, draining the aquifers and depleting the soil of all its nutrients, we need science” (6/17).

Clinton said a funding increase of almost 50 percent had been requested for international agricultural research in 2011, according to a State Department transcript. “And we want to target those investments at specific research breakthroughs that, if successful, will not only help save and improve lives, but raise incomes for farmers and generate growth across Africa, Asia, and other parts of the world,” she said before providing some examples of the types of agricultural research the U.S. wants to promote.

The new research program, called the Norman Borlaug Commemorative Research Initiative, will train scientists in partner countries and combine the “knowledge, resources, and commitment of USAID and the U.S. Department of Agriculture,” she added (6/17).

USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah said the announcement of the new research program “is one example of the concrete actions and steps the U.S. government is taking to really win the war against hunger,” PTI/The Hindu adds (6/17). Shah said the new program indicates a new approach for the U.S., according to the State Department transcript. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack also made remarks (6/17).

At the ceremony, hunger advocates David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World and Jo Luck, president of Heifer International, were presented with this year’s World Food Prize, the Associated Press reports (Jalonick, 6/16).

“Bread for the World has done an extraordinary job in not only providing positive responses in the fight against hunger, but in helping to really lead the way in terms of development and urging the United States to improve coordination and better target our investments and to learn from local communities,” Clinton said, the Des Moines Register reports. 

Luck “built the group, which teaches poor people self-reliance through livestock husbandry, into one of the ‘premier hunger-fighting nonprofit organizations anywhere in the world,’ according to the Des Moines-based World Food Prize Foundation, which selects the laureates, according to the newspaper. Each year, winners are awarded $250,000 and recognized for “advancements in increasing or improving global food supplies and expanding access to food,” the Des Moines Register writes (Brasher, 6/17).