G8 summit to pledge $15 bln to boost food supply
Leaders from rich nations at the G8 summit in Italy will commit $15 billion over three years to spur agricultural investment in poorer countries and combat hunger, a final draft statement seen by Reuters said.
The text, to be issued after talks on Friday, did not make clear whether it was all new funds, nor did it give details of individual countries' contributions, although the United States, Japan and the European Union (EU) are expected to step in with around $3 billion each.
It also made no mention of a trust fund for the contributions to be managed by the World Bank, a proposal put forward by Washington in previous drafts but opposed by the EU. "We welcome the commitments made by countries represented at L'Aquila towards a goal of mobilising at least $15 billion over three years," the statement said.
"We are committed to increase investments in short, medium and long-term agriculture development that directly benefits the poorest and makes best use of international institutions," it added.
It said the combined effect of longstanding underinvestment in agriculture, price volatility and the economic crisis had led to increased poverty and hunger in developing countries.
The United Nations says the number of malnourished people has risen over the past two years and is expected to top 1.02 billion this year, reversing a four-decade trend of declines.
The statement said the G8 summit kept a strong commitment to ensure adequate emergency food assistance, but its focus on agricultural investments reflects a U.S.-led shift towards longer-term strategies to fight hunger.
The United States is the world's largest aid donor of food -- mostly grown domestically and bought from U.S. farmers.
The leaders said their approach would target increased agriculture productivity, stimulus to harvest interventions, emphasis on private sector growth, women and smallholders, preservation of natural resources, job expansion, training and increased trade flows. The announced $15 billion in funds over three years compares with $13.4 billion which the G8 says it disbursed between January 2008 and July 2009 for global food security.
"The tendency of decreasing ODA (official development assistance) and national financing to agriculture must be reversed," the draft statement said.
G8 summits have a history of making unkept aid promises. In a report last month, anti-poverty group ONE said the world's richest nations collectively were off course in delivering on promises to more than double aid to Africa made at a G8 summit in 2005.
ONE has calculated that sub-Saharan Africa alone needs $25 billion over three years.
"Investment in seeds, fertilizer, roads and other infrastructure is desperately needed," it said on Thursday.