A new food-security and nutrition pledge will expand private-sector investment in reducing hunger and poverty, U.S. President Obama was expected to say Friday.
The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, whose formation Obama was to announce at a Symposium on Global Agriculture and Food Security in Washington, would bring together nearly 45 private-sector companies committed to investing "more than $3 billion" to help small-scale farmers -- largely in Africa, most of them women -- "improve their product and improve their outcomes," U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Raj Shah told reporters.
British telecommunications company Vodafone Group PLC, for instance, "is committing to reach 500,000 small-scale farmers with SMS text-based services that would allow them to ascertain local market prices," Shah said.
"A little bit less than half" of the private-sector support "comes from African companies and entrepreneurs and businesses, and the remainder from partners from around the world," Shah said Thursday.
Obama's 10:15 a.m. EDT address to the symposium -- whose purpose is to advance food and nutrition security at the Group of Eight industrial nations summit beginning later in the day -- would be followed by G8 members and development agencies committing to support this new public-private alliance, Shah said.
Food security refers to the availability of food and access to it. A household is considered "food secure" when its occupants do not live in hunger or fear of starvation.
An estimated 925 million people worldwide are chronically hungry due to extreme poverty, while as many as 2 billion lack food security intermittently due to varying degrees of poverty, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations says.
More than 6 million children die of hunger every year -- nearly 17,000 every day.
Food security was on the G8 agenda as a priority, with promised follow-through at the broader Group of Twenty summit to be held in Los Cabos, Mexico, June 18-19, officials said.
G8 leaders pledged commitments to agriculture and food security at the June 2009 G8 summit in L'Aquila, Italy. Those pledges included multiyear follow-up by G8 members.