JAMES BEVER: Good morning, everybody. My name is Jim Bever. I'm the director for USAID's task force on Afghanistan and Pakistan. Welcome to the Ronald Reagan Building. Welcome to the home of USAID and welcome all our distinguished guests.
I will do a short introduction right now for Dr. Raj Shah, the administrator of USAID. We're just absolutely excited, so excited that he has come to AID and so pleased that Secretary Vilsack, secretary of Agriculture, was willing to let him go in January to join as the leader of USAID.
So that’s my reform agenda for high impact development. Taken together, I very much hope that these reforms will mark the most significant operational improvements to our nation’s development agency since President Kennedy announced the creation of USAID almost 50 years ago. Our anniversary is next fall, so we’re working against that timeline. And really a more efficient, results-oriented agency is needed now more than ever. In the five decades since our founding, the role of USAID in supporting our national priorities, particularly our national security priorities, has certainly evolved. America’s greatest security challenges are no longer state-based. Extreme poverty compromises basic human dignities, banishes hope for the future, and paves the way for the rise of transnational extremism.
It's an honor to join you here at the Lower Mekong Initiative Infectious Disease Conference and to be able to share the next two days with you.
I want to thank our host - the Vietnamese government and VMOH Dr. Trinh Quan Huan and Ambassador Michalak and the embassy staff for the preparations put into this conference.
USAID has had a more than 50-year history in working in international agricultural research including, helping to establish the consultative group on international agricultural research. Now is such an opportune time to take hold of the opportunities of this new initiative to reshape that system and to reshape our international system to make sure we make all of the technologies available here in the United States and elsewhere around the world accessible and affordable and safe for small farming communities in a way that is respectful and understanding of their specific needs. USDA has had a tremendous history in agricultural research, creating the land grant system in this country in the 1860s and participating with USAID in a long-standing partnership. I want to especially thank Josette Lewis and Rob Bertram from our team at USAID and Roger Beachy and Ann Tutwiler from the team at USDA that have really brought excellence and partnership together to make sure that we can be as supportive as possible of this overall mission.
His Excellency, President Wade,
His Excellency, ECOWAS Commissioner Salifou,
Distinguished members from ECOWAS and the NEPAD community
Ministers from around West Africa,
Partners from Canada, Spain, United Nations and so many wonderful technical leadership organizations;
We know that food aid can save lives but if we are not careful, we also know it can have unintended consequences such as distorting local markets and discouraging local production. In the United States and at USAID we, like you, are taking careful steps to make sure this does not happen. We are expanding the application of independent market analysis as we did in Haiti and as we are doing in eight other countries through what we call our Bellman process to make sure we have methodologies that will protect local producers and local markets in events when outside food assistance and aid is necessary. Although in-kind food assistance will remain the major source of US food aid, we will expand our cash vouchers and grant assistance, especially for local and regional procurement under the emergency food security programme that we launched earlier this year. In 2009 this programme represented about US$95 million of activity for the United States and we expect that to be 300 million in 2011 per this administration's request to Congress.
DR. RAJIV SHAH: Thank you, thanks Sam. I appreciate the chance to be here and it's wonderful to be in a room with so many supporters and partners and likeminded development practitioners, so thank you for that opportunity.
Sam, I want to thank you especially for InterAction's support of our overall agenda and just every step of the way, really pulling together the community to help us learn and really make decisions in a way that does include the input across this broad group of partners.
Honorable Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Her Excellency Sheikh Hasina,
Minister of Agriculture, Begum Matia Chowdhury,
Minister of Food and Disaster Management, Dr. Muhammad Abdur Razzaque
Members of Cabinet and Advisors to the Prime Minister,
Guest speakers, delegates and members of the media, civil society, and private sector organizations;
Assalam-u-Alaikum, and Good Morning.
DR. RAJIV SHAH: Thank you, Marshall.
And good morning. How is everyone? It's wonderful to see such a great group come out so early today. So thank you very much.
And a special thanks of course to Catherine and Dan, who have really made this issue a top priority for everyone in this development business in this town. And we continue to look at and count on the leadership of the Chicago Council and of the team sitting here in the years to come. So thank you very much.
MRS. OBAMA: Thank you everyone. Thanks so much. (Applause.) You all take a load off your feet because you work hard enough. (Laughter.) It is truly a pleasure to be here. This is a big agency. This is good. (Laughter.) I think this is one of my largest agency visits. This is really wonderful.
I want to start by thanking Raj for that wonderful introduction, but more so for everything that he’s doing here.
Last updated: December 25, 2014