G8 leaders on Saturday pledged to lift millions of Africans out of poverty by promoting investments in sustainable agriculture.
“Today we commit to launch a New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition to accelerate the flow of private capital to African agriculture, take to scale new technologies and other innovations that can increase sustainable agricultural productivity, and reduce the risk borne by vulnerable economies and communities,” the Group of Eight major industrial nations said.
“This New Alliance will lift 50 million people out of poverty over the next decade.”
The ambitious announcement, contained in a final communique released after a high-profile gathering on a range of topics, came a day after President Barack Obama reached out to the private sector for financial support for the cause.
The initiative also comes as pledges expire from 2009 in L’Aquila, Italy, where the G8 promised more than $20 billion over three years to improve food access to Africans and others hit by the high prices and a global slowdown.
Civil society observers appeared skeptical about the endeavor’s success.
“The G8 have offered warm words on food security but have failed to make a specific pledge to simply maintain L’Aquila level financial commitments going forward,” said Katie Campbell, senior policy analyst for ActionAid USA. “In failing to deliver this, they have turned their backs on the women smallholder farmers who are so vital to food security in Africa.”
Oxfam claimed that input from those directly concerned had not been taken into consideration.
“Poor countries have presented the G8 country-led, sustainable, and coordinated plans for food security and agricultural development, but today the G8 gave them the cold shoulder,” Lamine Ndiaye, the group’s Pan Africa Head of Economic Justice, said in a statement.
According to the G8 communique, the initiative would, among other things, be guided by “a collective commitment to invest in credible, comprehensive and country-owned plans.”
The Norwegian global firm Yara has said it would build Africa’s first major fertilizer production facility as part of the initiative. Companies including Pepsi and Dupont have also pledged to invest in Africa’s small-scale farmers.