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G8 may back new approach to food aid

Washington, July 4, 2009

The Group of Eight rich nations is expected to back a US proposal next week that would seek a more "coordinated approach" to food aid and development, a top US official said.

Michael Froman, US deputy national security adviser for international economic affairs, said the proposal and the money involved would build on a global partnership program on food security launched at last year's G8 meeting in Japan.

US president Barack Obama announced in April that the United States would seek to double funding for agricultural development aid to $1 billion by 2010.

"Since that time there's been a lot of work done internally to develop a new approach to food security," Froman told Reuters in an interview.

While declining to comment on a funding figure associated with the approach, he said the United States would make a "significant commitment" that built on the $1 billion figure first proposed by Obama. Other countries, he said, would also make significant, multi-year commitments.

Froman said the overall initiative had five key elements. First, efforts to fight hunger would become more comprehensive, focusing on improving agricultural productivity and development.

Second, countries receiving the aid would be more involved in developing their own agricultural development plans and injecting their own resources.

Third, donor countries would work in a more co-ordinated manner, reviewing plans presented by needy countries and channeling resources in a coherent fashion.

Fourth, international institutions such as the World Bank and other specialized organizations would be used or leveraged where appropriate.

Fifth, the initiative would seek a "sustained and significant financial commitment" over three years from involved nations.

"It's a shift from every country doing its own thing - sometimes in a top down fashion -  to having a coordinated approach," Froman said.

The approach has attracted significant support from other G8 countries as well as recipient African nations, he said. US Agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack said earlier this week the United States would shift its emphasis in the fight against global hunger from giving emergency aid to helping countries produce more of their own food.

Global development group Oxfam said on Tuesday agricultural assistance by G8 countries had fallen to around $5 billion a year in 2007 from $20 billion in the 1980s.-Reuters  




Tags: Food aid | G8 |

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