President Tours Food Security Event in DakarFri, 28 Jun 2013 11:47:55 CDT
President Barack Obama participated in the Feed the Future food security event in Dakar, Senegal, Friday. He met with farmers, innovators, and entrepreneurs whose new methods and technologies are improving the lives of smallholder farmers throughout West Africa.
A small "technology marketplace" was set up behind the president's hotel, with five booths arranged in a small grassy area between the hotel and the water. Each of the small booths in the marketplace highlighted technologies supported by the Feed the Future project.
Three of the technologies highlighted include:
Rice milling: Traditionally, women in the south of Senegal use a mortar and pestle to pound rice for about 30 minutes for every family meal. Switching to a small-scale, efficient rice mill can save time for women and such mills are now affordable because use of improved rice seeds has tripled productivity.
Bio-fortification: Bio-fortification is the process of cross-breeding plants to enhance their nutritional content and provide a low-cost alternative to typical commercial food fortification activities. In Senegal, Feed the Future is emphasizing bio-fortified crops that respond to specific nutritional deficiencies in target populations living in the most food-insecure regions of Senegal. Examples include the promotion of orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, which are bio-fortified with vitamin A; pearl millet bio-fortified with iron, and zinc; and common beans bio-fortified with iron and zinc.
Mobile technology: Every year Senegal imports 120,000 tons of corn worth $50 million to supply mills and city markets from South America. Thousands of Senegalese families working on small farms are kept out of this market because they are distributed over large area and lack the coordination of large industrial farms. Feed the Future is partnering with farmer union FEPROMAS to bridge that gap using a mobile and web interface to link farmers across Senegal to track their production and coordinate sales, enabling them to compete with industrial farms in South America.
After touring the marketplace, Obama spoke for a few minutes, touting the success of the program and the effort to lift 50 million people from poverty within a decade. "I'm confident we're on our way."
He said in Africa incomes are rising, poverty is declining, but too many people still are hungry. Obama said he has made food security a priority, and by starting with small farmers, "it's not just a few who are benefiting from development, but everybody's benefiting."
The President said his administration has leveraged both private and public funds, he said, and "as a consequence, we're getting much better bang for our buck."
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