The leaders of the world's richest nations unveil a $15bn plan to boost food production for the poorest.
G8 pledge $15bn for food production
Rich nations' leaders, including an Africa-bound Barack Obama, today unveiled a $15 billion (Dh55bn) boost for food production as they were urged to help the world's poor during the downturn. Shifting the focus away from aid towards practical help for agriculture, the eight most industrialised nations and 19 partner countries agreed to bankroll a project designed to help smallholder farmers improve their yields. "We encourage other countries and private actors to join in the common effort towards global food security," said a joint statement released on the last day of a G8 summit being held in Italy. "We are determined to improve co-ordination of financing mechanisms and stand ready to ensure that new resources compliment existing facilities and programmes," the statement added. The United States will stump up around $3.5bn of the cash and the announcement came hours before Mr Obama was due to set off on his first visit to sub-Saharan Africa as US president. Kanayo Nwanze, head of the UN agricultural agency IFAD, was among those who welcomed the launch, said the plan represented a "shift from food aid, which is like providing medication after the child is ill, to providing assistance to help the countries ... produce food by themselves." Mr Obama called on other countries to back the plan at an expanded G8 heads of state breakfast meeting joined by the leaders of Algeria, Angola, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Senegal as well as the African Union chairman and Libyan leader Muammer Qadafi. The breakfast focused on the effects of the world economic crisis on Africa. Later, the veteran Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak called for a freeze of repayments on loans to African countries to help them weather the downturn. The expanded meeting gave G8 leaders an opportunity to cement ties with leaders from the developing nations. Mr Obama and his wife Michelle, a descendant of African slaves, was to leave for Ghana later today on the first visit to sub-Saharan Africa by a black US president. Mr Obama is expected to stress the interconnection between Africa and the rest of the world in the 21st century in the West African country, his aides said. On Thursday, Mr Obama said the world's biggest economies had reached a "historic consensus" on cutting pollution, saying rich nations had a duty to set an example, as the leaders also agreed to shun protectionism. *AFP