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A New Global Approach to Attacking Hunger

Watch our Secretary of State enunciate President Obama and his administration’s new approach to tackle global hunger. Thank you President Obama and Madame Secretary.

The Obama Administration is committed to providing leadership in developing a new global approach to hunger. For too long, our primary response has been to send emergency aid when the crisis is at its worst. This saves lives, but it doesn’t address hunger’s root causes. It is, at best, a short-term fix.

So we will support the creation of effective, sustainable farming systems in regions around the world where current methods are not working. We will do this by helping countries carry out strategies designed to meet their specific needs; for example, through the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Plan, which establishes a collaborative and inclusive process led by African countries themselves.

We know one-size-fits-all will not work in agriculture, as it doesn’t work in most other areas of human endeavor. Furthermore, to facilitate coordination and best practices, we will seek to convene stakeholders from every sector, including donor governments, multilateral institutions, NGOs, private companies, foundations, universities and individuals, to create a web of advocates and experts.

We have identified seven principles that support sustainable systems of agriculture in rural areas worldwide. First, we will seek to increase agricultural productivity by expanding access to quality seeds, fertilizers, irrigation tools, and the credit to purchase them and the training to use them.

Second, we will work to stimulate the private sector by improving the storage and processing of foods and improving rural roads and transportation so small farmers can sell their fruit, the fruits of their labor, at local markets.

Third, we are committed to maintaining natural resources so that land can be farmed by future generations and that it help – that includes helping countries adapt to climate change.

Fourth, we will expand knowledge and training by supporting R&D and cultivating the next generation of plant scientists.

Fifth, we will seek to increase trade so small-scale farmers can sell their crops far and wide.

Sixth, we will support policy reform and good governance. We need clear and predictable policy and regulatory environments for agriculture to flourish.

And seventh, we will support women and families. Seventy percent of the world’s farmers are women, but most programs that offer farmers credit and training target men. This is both unfair and impractical. An effective agricultural system – (applause) – an effective agricultural system must have incentives for those who do the work, and it must take into account the particular needs of children.

So these are the seven principles that will guide us in the coming weeks, as we scale up our work and help us set benchmarks to measure our efforts. We are committed to collecting data and assessing our progress, and when necessary, correcting our course.

Now for us, sustainable agriculture won’t be a side project. It is a central element of our foreign policy. Ambassador Quinn and I were speaking before we came in, and he told me something that I’ve heard from others as well: Where the road ends, it becomes a refuge for extremists and for violence. And the more we enhance agricultural productivity, because it’s the right thing to do, we will see positive results in terms of our relations with other countries and our ability to affect extremism and violence and conflict.

Attacking hunger at its roots directly impacts whether we meet our other foreign policy goals, from achieving economic recovery to stabilizing fragile societies, creating stronger partnerships, cleaning up our planet, and creating economic opportunity.

Full Text of HRC’s remarks at 2009 World Food Prize Announcement Ceremony can be found here

HuffingtonPost also blogged the HRC’s article here


  1. Sounds like my conservative white-christian dad-in-law was correct when he called HRC for the position right after the Dem primary and said she would kick ass at it.  She seems to be putting together a rock-solid industrial structure at State and running it like Nimitz.  I have more respect for both her and her boss seeing how well this is working out.

  2. a change in farm subsidies and tariffs so they can export what they grow? Crop subsidies in the developed world are a major contributor to poverty in the third-world. Not one mention of it in this address.

  3. Shaun Appleby

    So we’re taking on the global monoculture agribusiness lobby and the GAT intellectual property monopoly?  I’ll believe that when I see it.

    I think this sounds great in practice but these interests are as deeply entrenched in the pockets of our legislators as the medical, pharmaceutical and insurance lobbies and rule the post-colonial global agricultural marketplace with ruthless indifference to the greater good.

  4. At least we’ve got the right person working on this. This is the type of thing I was hoping to see with Hillary as SoS. I think Obama was very wise to have her in the most senior cabinet spot instead of the Veep slot.

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