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2010 World Food Prize Remarks
“Despite the huge importance of agriculture to Africa’s economies, the continent’s commercial banks typically extend less than 3 percent of their lending to this sector. We must make this right; agriculture is a business it must be financed like one.
The huge need to provide farmers and agri-businesses with affordable credit is beginning to be met. AGRA and its partners have already mobilized $160 million in affordable loans from local commercial banks through credit guarantees.
This is unprecedented and the effort to expand access will continue. We are seeing as well investment and support for agro-dealer networks that are building thousands of rural businesses across the continent.
These are helping millions of farmers in remote areas gain access to basic ingredients of success such as improved seeds and fertilizers – as well as knowledge about their use. Distinguished guests, the challenges remain immense; we are only at the start of a long and grueling journey. But the balance is changing.”
—Kofi Annan, Founder, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), Nobel Peace Prize Winner, and Former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Borlaug Dialogue Keynote Speech, October 14, 2010
“Now, we should be honest about the stakes involved. For USAID, our agricultural investments are a flagship effort representing a new way of doing business—strategic, data-driven, and results-oriented. Our credibility—and my credibility as Administrator—rest on this effort.
For the Administration, Feed the Future is a core plank in the most important development strategy delivered by a sitting President since JFK’s letter to Congress back in 1961; the same letter that led to the formation of USAID.
But our stakes are nothing compared to what the world faces.
We live on a planet whose population will grow by two billion in 40 years. In that time, 2 billion more people will join the middle class, completely redrawing the agricultural map as their diets and tastes change. And this will occur in an environment with decreasing resources, increasing demands for water and energy, and an increasingly unstable climate.”
—Dr. Rajiv Shah, Administrator, US Agency for International Development, Remarks from the World Food Prize, October 15, 2010
“Two years ago, the president of the Gates Foundation’s Global Development Program, Sylvia Mathews Burwell, addressed this symposium and explained why we decided to get involved in this work. It came down to simple mathematics.
Three quarters of the poorest people in the world rely on farming for their food and income. If the goal is to help the poorest people get enough to eat and increase their incomes, then the obvious way to do it is through agricultural development. Or, as Sylvia said, “Clearly, agriculture and prosperity must grow together.”
We believe in that rationale as strongly now as we did then. Agricultural development has immense potential. But as Dr. Borlaug once said, “You can’t eat potential.” And I am happy to be able to say that, because of the work you’ve been doing, we are starting to see something in addition to the potential inherent in agriculture. We are starting to see the realization of that potential. We are starting to see progress for small farmers. Yes, we’ve been working together, to “take it to the farmer.”
“At the Gates Foundation, we are enthusiastic about the potential of science and technology to help small farmers. As Bill Gates told this audience last year, “We need higher yields on the same land in harsher weather. And we will never get it without a continuous and urgent science-based search to increase productivity.”
—Jeff Raikes CEO, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, World Food Prize, October 14, 2010