Text of President Jimmy Carter’s Videotaped Welcome to the
Partnership to Cut Hunger in Africa Conferees
It is my pleasure to welcome you to the Partnership to Cut Hunger in Africa Conference. Congratulations to Peter McPherson, President Konaré, Lee Hamilton and Bob Dole, for providing the leadership for such an important undertaking.
I am pleased that such a distinguished group of people will be together for the next two days in Washington to discuss the importance of a renewed US/Africa partnership to cut hunger and poverty in Africa, and to elevate these critical issues on the agenda of the Congress and the new Administration.
Each day many people in Africa live under difficult, life-threatening circumstances caused by war, disease, hunger, and poverty. This year, 200 million Africans go to sleep hungry and 31 million of their children under the age of five are malnourished. These problems are compounded by poverty and disease epidemics -- particularly AIDS -- that ravage the continent. The costs in human suffering are staggering and unacceptable.
I have a deep personal interest in alleviation of hunger and poverty through African agricultural development. I have been a farmer and, as President. I had the opportunity to see the life-changing impact of U.S. agricultural development assistance.
Here at the Carter Centre we are addressing these challenges through our collaboration with the Sasakawa Global 2000 program. This program works to accelerate adoption of improved food production technology to help African farmers reduce poverty, enhance food security, and protect the environment. Last year SG 2000 operated field programs in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, northern Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania and Benin.
Although many of our programs at the Carter Center are related to health care, the foundation of health is proper nutrition -- and a healthy agriculture sector is the basis for good nutrition. Regretfully, per capita food production in sub-Saharan Africa is less than it was at the end of the 1950s. There can be no peace until people have enough to eat.
We tend to underestimate how important a basic agricultural system is to African countries. Rural families account for two thirds of the population in Africa and a large proportion of the hungry, malnourished and poor. Rural small holder farms and firms account for over 80% of African agricultural exports.
This suggests an obvious but often overlooked path to peace: raise the standard of living of the millions of rural people who live in poverty by increasing agricultural productivity. Not only does such a strategy put more food on the table and cut hunger, increasing agricultural productivity stimulates jobs and economic growth throughout the rest of the economy. Without a vibrant African agriculture, there is little demand, for example, for the products of micro-enterprises that are so important to raising the incomes of the poor, particularly women.
We must all work together to cut hunger and poverty in Africa, to develop its agriculture, to protect the environment, to foster peace and to tackle the daunting challenge posed by HIV/AIDS. These challenges require creative partnerships between the U.S. and Africa and among all development sectors.
My best wishes for a productive conference. I will eagerly look forward to hearing about the results of your deliberations and hope that you will call on me to help in the future.
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