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Archive for May, 2012

A New Way of Doing Business on Food Security: Blog

Today, Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the fastest growing regions in the world, home to seven of the world’s fastest-growing economies. In fact, just this week, the International Monetary Fund’s Regional Economic Outlook for Sub-Saharan Africa projected Sub-Saharan Africa’s growth to remain above 5 percent — faster than many newly industrialized Asian economies.

The major force behind this dramatic growth has been significant increases in private sector investment and trade in the region. Foreign direct investment flows to the continent now hover around $80 billion and trade has tripled over the last decade. But this private sector boom has largely missed Africa’s agricultural economy, favoring investments in resources like oil, gas and minerals.

As a result of decades of underinvestment, today Africa is the only continent that does not produce enough to feed its own citizens. Last year’s food crisis and famine in the Horn of Africa serve as a stark reminder that chronic hunger and malnutrition remain a persistent problem on the continent.

In 2009, at the G8 Summit in L’Aquila, Italy, President Obama and G8 leaders refocused the world’s attention on food security, leading to $22 billion in commitments toward global agriculture. But even as we maintain these commitments in tough economic times, we know that Africa needs more than aid.  It needs a new way of building economic stability.

This week at the G8 Summit at Camp David, we are launching a New Alliance for Food and Nutrition Security between African nations, international donors and private firms. Together, we will lift 50 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa out of hunger and poverty within 10 years — that’s more than one out of every eight people currently in poverty in the region.

African governments are showing incredible leadership by undertaking serious market-oriented reforms. For instance, Tanzania has committed to overturn an export ban on staple commodities that has in the past been implemented during food emergencies. Tanzania will also strengthen land tenure rights for poor farmers and open the local seed market to greater private sector competition.

The governments of Ghana and Ethiopia are committing to similar reforms, with other African nations in line to follow suit. Donors will continue to invest in country-owned agricultural development plans while creating new tools to shield farmers from risk and increase access to cutting-edge agricultural technologies. That means smallholder farmers will be able to sow better seeds and access real-time market prices on their mobile phones.

That support has encouraged private sector firms — from African businesses like Tanzania’s TANSEED, to multinational’s like DuPont — to increase their investments in African agriculture.

Building on 20 years of local experience in agriculture in Africa, DuPont has committed to helping smallholder farmers by building local collaborations that enhance agriculture value chains – from improved inputs and financing to infrastructure and market access.

To help make better informed decisions that drive sustainable action, DuPont is sponsoring the development of a clear monitoring and tracking index from the Economist Intelligence Unit.  To be published in July, the Global Food Security Index will consider the core issues of food affordability, availability, access and quality across a set of 105 countries. This interactive benchmarking tool will be publically available, so every business, government and NGO can access the relevant data to help tailor local solutions.

All told, the New Alliance will lead more than 45 companies to invest more than $3 billion in African agriculture, creating a new model of public-private partnership to fight hunger, improve livelihoods and support African nations as they chart their own future.

While this vision is ambitious, we believe we can finally come together to prove to the world that hunger can be beaten.

[The Hill]

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Should NATO Be Handling World Security?

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (better known as NATO) is in the news once again thanks to a NATO summit meeting in Chicago over the weekend of May 19-20 and to large public demonstrations in Chicago against this military pact.

NATO’s website defines the alliance’s mission as “Peace and Security,” and shows two children lying in the grass, accompanied by a bird, a flower and the happy twittering of birds. There is no mention of the fact that NATO is the world’s most powerful military pact, or that NATO nations account for 70 percent of the world’s annual $1.74 trillion in military spending.

The organizers of the demonstrations, put together by peace and social justice groups, assailed NATO for bogging the world down in endless war and for diverting vast resources to militarism. According to a spokesperson for one of the protest groups, Peace Action: “It’s time to retire NATO and form a new alliance to address unemployment, hunger, and climate change.”

NATO was launched in April 1949, at a time when Western leaders feared that the Soviet Union, if left unchecked, would invade Western Europe. The U.S. government played a key role in organizing the alliance, which brought in not only West European nations, but the United States and Canada. Dominated by the United States, NATO had a purely defensive mission — to safeguard its members from military attack, presumably by the Soviet Union.

That attack never occurred, either because it was deterred by NATO’s existence or because the Soviet government had no intention of attacking in the first place. We shall probably never know.

In any case, with the end of the Cold War and the disappearance of the Soviet Union, it seemed that NATO had outlived its usefulness.

But vast military establishments, like other bureaucracies, rarely just fade away. If the original mission no longer exists, new missions can be found. And so NATO’s military might was subsequently employed to bomb Yugoslavia, to conduct counter-insurgency warfare in Afghanistan, and to bomb Libya. Meanwhile, NATO expanded its membership and military facilities to East European nations right along Russia’s border, thus creating renewed tension with that major military power and providing it with an incentive to organize a countervailing military pact, perhaps with China.

None of this seems likely to end soon. In the days preceding the Chicago meeting, NATO’s new, sweeping role was highlighted by Oana Longescu, a NATO spokesperson, who announced that the summit would discuss “the Alliance’s overall posture in deterring and defending against the full range of threats in the twenty-first century, and take stock of NATO’s mix of conventional, nuclear, and missile defense forces.”

In fairness to NATO planners, it should be noted that, when it comes to global matters, they are operating in a relative vacuum. There are real international security problems, and some entity should certainly be addressing them.

But is NATO the proper entity? After all, NATO is a military pact, dominated by the United States and composed of a relatively small group of self-selecting European and North American nations. The vast majority of the world’s countries do not belong to NATO and have no influence upon it. Who appointed NATO as the representative of the world’s people? Why should the public in India, in Brazil, in China, in South Africa, in Argentina, or most other nations identify with the decisions of NATO’s military commanders?

The organization that does represent the nations and people of the world is the United Nations. Designed to save the planet from “the scourge of war,” the United Nations has a Security Council (on which the United States has permanent membership) that is supposed to handle world security issues. Unlike NATO, whose decisions are often controversial and sometimes questionable, the United Nations almost invariably comes forward with decisions that have broad international support and, furthermore, show considerable wisdom and military restraint.

The problem with UN decisions is not that they are bad ones, but that they are difficult to enforce. And the major reason for the difficulty in enforcement is that the Security Council is hamstrung by a veto that can be exercised by any one nation. Thus, much like the filibuster in the U.S. Senate, which is making the United States less and less governable, the Security Council veto has seriously limited what the world organization is able to do in addressing global security issues.

Thus, if the leaders of NATO nations were really serious about providing children with a world in which they could play in peace among the birds and flowers, they would work to strengthen the United Nations and stop devoting vast resources to dubious wars.

by LAWRENCE S. WITTNER

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World Economic Forum Heads To Africa

World Economic Forum Heads To Africa
 
Date: 01-May-2012
 
 

 

 
 
 

The 2012 World Economic Forum on Africa will be held in Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, Davos-based World Economic Forum (WEF) has announced.

The forum, themed “Shaping Africa’s transformation”, will begin May 9 and end May 11.

The WEF holds similar forum for other continents – Latin America, Asia, Europe among others.

Ethiopia is the second most populous country in sub-Saharan Africa and a prime example of the continent’s fast-growing economies.

Home to the African Union and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the WEF said Addis Ababa will offer an exceptional opportunity to bring together global and pan-African leaders to shape the region’s transformation.

With a projected growth rate of 6% in 2012, Africa is said to be on the brink of a major transformation. Over the last decade, the continent was home to six of the world’s 10 fastest growing economies, and the outlook for the region remains bright at a time when the rest of the world is facing major political and economic challenges.

However, attaining Africa’s aspirations in a new global context will require bold and actionable ideas, as well as strong leadership on regional, national and industry levels.

 
 
 
Source: Ghanabusinessnews.com

 

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