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African Leaders to Meet with Obama at G8 on Food Security

African Leaders to Meet with Obama at G8 on Food Security

16 May 2012
Official portrait of Johnnie Carson (State Dept.)

Johnnie Carson says there is “absolutely no reason” why Africa has insufficient food supplies. It can be a major agricultural producer for itself and for global export.

President Obama will discuss food security with four African leaders at the upcoming Group of Eight (G8) Summit at Camp David, including ways to step up agricultural production across the continent.

The meeting, to be held May 18, will include talks on agriculture, food self-sufficiency and food security, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson told reporters in a May 16 teleconference.

Invited are Chairperson of the African Union and President of Benin Yayi Boni, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, Ghana’s President John Atta Mills and President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania.

Carson said Obama’s Feed the Future program is a “new major initiative” that is designed to “create a green agricultural revolution in Africa of the type that occurred in Latin America and Asia in the 1960s and 1970s and which effectively ended widespread hunger” in many places across both regions, as well as spurring economic growth.

In Africa, he said, approximately 70 percent of households depend primarily or secondarily on agriculture for their income, and the continent “has enormous promise and potential in the agricultural field.”

Carson said there is “absolutely no reason” why Africa has insufficient food supplies and “cannot, in fact, be a major agricultural producer” not only for the continent but also for global export.

The Obama administration regards the Feed the Future program as a “major, major project to work with Africa on,” he said.

Despite setbacks such as the coups in Mali and Guinea-Bissau, the situation in Somalia and clashes between Sudan and South Sudan, overall progress across the continent over the past three years has been “unmistakable and inspiring,” Carson said.

“We have seen significant progress in Africa toward what people everywhere want and deserve. That is, the right to freely elected governments that respond to their needs and that pursue peace, justice and prosperity,” he said.

He cited successful and free elections in Senegal, Nigeria and Zambia, as well as Malawi’s constitutional process, which brought President Joyce Banda to power, and Côte d’Ivoire’s growth after its return to democracy.

The role of the United States in Africa is intended to “support democratic governance, economic development, conflict mitigation, improved health delivery and combating a range of transnational issues with our African partne