Remarks by Administrator Rajiv Shah at the New Alliance Event

Wednesday, September 26, 2012
New Alliance: Progress and the Way Forward

Remarks as prepared

We are here not only because we have a deep appreciation of the importance of food security, but also because we understand that hunger and undernutrition have a long-term impact on our nations’ health, economies and security.

Around this time last year, the worst drought in 60 years had put more than 13.3 million people at risk across the Horn of Africa

At the same time, a similar emergency was building across eight nations in the Sahel, where a devastating combination of drought, conflict and displacement was affecting millions. Last November—even as we were responding to the crisis in the Horn—we began sending humanitarian supplies to the Sahel.

Under the leadership of President Obama, the 2009 G-8 Summit in L’Aquila helped rally the world behind the need to dramatically reinvest in agriculture. Within a few months, we launched Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative.

But in order to tackle the persistent problem of chronic hunger and malnutrition, the world needed more than new funding. We needed a breakthrough approach that could deliver results at scale, transform economies and lift tens of millions out of poverty.

Launched at the G-8 Summit at Camp David hosted by President Obama, the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition represents this new way forward.

Recognizing that private investment in emerging economies now dwarfs official development assistance, the New Alliance engages nontraditional problem-solvers in helping overcome core challenges in development, like hunger and undernutrition.

At USAID, we call this approach “open source development,” and it reflects our desire to harness the creativity and expertise of a range of partners, from global companies to local civil society organizations.

With a focus on smallholder farmers, particularly women, the New Alliance brings African nations, international donors and private firms together to unlock real agricultural growth.

That means helping farmers gain access to better seeds, enough capital to grow their businesses, and affordable insurance to protect against failure.

Most importantly, instead of creating new or parallel structures, the New Alliance supports existing African-led plans that have been developed through the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Program. The African Union, in particular, is playing a strong role and has taken the lead in establishing an evidence-based review of this process that will form the backbone of our mutual accountability.

Announcing New Frameworks

As many of you know, it wasn’t easy to bring the New Alliance together. Some thought we were too ambitious—that we were reaching too far, too fast. Others thought we weren’t ambitious enough.

But thanks to many of you in this room today, the New Alliance is not only delivering real results on the ground, but it is also expanding.

Today, we’re pleased to welcome Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, and Mozambique as the next wave of nations to develop New Alliance Cooperation Frameworks.

In Burkina Faso, where farmers routinely grapple with water scarcity and drought, government ministers, donors, and private companies have worked quickly to develop a framework that includes a focus on supporting large-scale irrigation and small-scale water management in priority regions.

In the last few months, the Government of Cote d’Ivoire has worked across its ministries to commit to a robust series of policy actions under its new cooperation framework. It has committed to a range of impressive reforms in seed policies, agricultural finance, and fraud and intellectual property.

And in Mozambique, the government is encouraging agricultural trade by eliminating permit requirements for inter-district trade and replacing a complex Value Added Tax scheme with a simplified tax for smaller contributions. This package of game-changing reforms has encouraged 19 African and international companies, including four from Japan, to signs letters of intent to invest in Mozambican agriculture.

Even as we support the expansion of New Alliance frameworks, we’re also helping realize incredible results in each of the initial participating countries—Ghana, Ethiopia, and Tanzania. This progress has occurred even amidst the national grief and mourning for the deaths of President Mills and Prime Minster Meles. Our thoughts are with your nations during this time of transition, and we remain committed to deepening our partnerships.

In Ghana, Tanzania, and Ethiopia, the launch of the New Alliance brought hundreds of representatives of the government, private sector,and civil society organizations together to reaffirm their commitments. And evidence of real reforms is beginning to take shape.

Just a month ago, the Ghanaian Parliament approved a new $150 million partnership between the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, the World Bank, and USAID that will help deliver on three of Ghana’s New Alliance commitments—establishing a land database for investors, model lease agreements, and clear procedures for channeling investor interest to appropriate government agencies.

In just a few months, we’ve seen how inclusive leadership from governments and transparent plans can create new investment opportunities.

In Ethiopia, DuPont is moving forward with their warehousing investments and soil information system. They have also committed to increase the scale of their maize value chain effort, reaching 32,000 smallholder farmers and providing a credit facility for storage dealers.

In Kenya, Mozambique, and Tanzania, Vodafone is committing to invest $5 million to promote mobile agriculture solutions to 500,000 smallholder farmers.

And in West Africa, Rabobank is establishing a new agribusiness finance institution that will pump around $135 million over five years into the agricultural sector, starting in Ghana, Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire.

In fact, since May, 36 new companies have signaled their intentions to invest in Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, and Mozambique. Collectively, these new additions bring the total level of private sector commitment to at least $3.5 billion.

Advancing Impact

But one of the most exciting results from the New Alliance has been the opportunity for problem-solvers to create innovative new partnerships and advance our overall impact.

And this is not just happening with the private sector.

Through Feed the Future—the U.S. Government’s contribution to the New Alliance—we’re working closely with NGOs, women’s cooperatives and communities to increase farming incomes and improve nutrition.

In Malawi, we have a long-standing partnership with the national smallholder farmers’ association, which helps more than 100,000 farmers apply a profitable business model. The average income of the farmer who belongs to the association is over $1,200 compared to Malawi’s per capital income of $300.

In Nepal, our Flood Recovery Program began as a way to help communities recover from devastating floods in 2007 and 2008. Under Feed the Future, it has transitioned into a partnership with local NGOs that improves the affordability and availability of nutritious food for rural households.

So far, it has helped establish more than 4,500 home gardens, tripled family incomes, and led to a decrease in seasonal migration and an increase in school enrollment.

We look forward to highlighting some of these important partnerships as we celebrate the contributions and leadership of civil society tomorrow with Secretary Clinton.

All told, we’ve built some remarkable momentum—especially when you consider where we were just a few months ago.

But we have much more work still to do.

We look forward to hearing from each of our partners here today, and working together to turn a path-breaking approach into game-changing results.

Our vision is ambitious, but our goal is possible. Together, we can—and will—help lift 50 million people out of poverty and realize a safer, more prosperous world for us all.

It is now my great honor to introduce Chairperson Jean Ping

Millennium UN Plaza Hotel, New York