Deputy Administrator Isobel Coleman at the Feed the Future Roundtable Discussion

Speeches Shim

Friday, September 23, 2022
Subject 
Remarks

DEPUTY ADMINISTRATOR COLEMAN: Thank you all so much. We see all of you as part of the solution. That is the basis of Feed the Future. 

We started this event with the Minister from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, who painted a vision of what we can achieve together in partnership. The DRC is cultivating only 9 percent of their land, but has natural rainfall and the potential to become a breadbasket. Just like Zambia, Malawi, and all the other countries here, you have the potential to not only feed your countries but also to be exporters. We have seen this in other Feed the Future countries like Bangladesh, which has gone from being a significant importer to an exporter. And I think there is tremendous potential. 

So the first point I want to make is just the vision that you have all laid out. It's a vision of diversifying exports and improving nutrition. As many of you have noted, it's about growing the incomes of smallholder farmers, especially women. As Mozambique noted, it’s a vision of becoming a net exporter and being part of the solution. Thank you for sharing that vision with us. 

The second point, which has been raised by many in this room, is how do we get there. It's about upscaling. It's about investing in technology transfer, in training, in storage, in reducing wastage. You've mentioned agricultural processing in your own countries — seeds, fertilizer, technology, and moving up the value chain. These are all things that Feed the Future does in partner countries around the world. We stand ready to partner with you on upscaling the very good work that you're already doing and that we’re doing together in your countries. 

The third point I want to make is investing in women and youth. Nearly everyone at the table today has mentioned the importance of women and youth. And why is this important? We know that women have been among the most marginalized — and when we invest in women, they have the highest opportunity for increased productivity. And youth are the future of your country. Several of you have mentioned the importance of re-engaging youth in farming — and frankly, making farming sexy, right? It's about providing new technology and new paths to growing incomes, and being part of the economy in a more market-based way. It’s about painting that vision for your countries and getting youth excited about the opportunities too. 

The fourth point I want to make is about water, as many of you have mentioned. The DRC has ample natural water, but many countries do not. And so it's about focusing on water management. All of the Feed the Future countries represented here are also Water for the World high priority countries — part of our Global Water Strategy. This presents us with an enormous opportunity to bring water and water management challenges together with food.

The last thing I want to say is this is a partnership. This is not us coming in and telling you what to do. This is us working with you on your priorities, your agenda, to really help realize your own visions. And we will be there as a partner providing technical assistance, some technologies, some financing. You mentioned the AU CAADP [African Union Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme] and other partnerships across Africa. This is all part of Feed the Future — we try to work together with existing systems, existing partnerships — and jointly with you — work together on realizing the vision and potential of the future. 

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and your candid ideas with us here tonight. Thank you to the State Department for convening us. On behalf of USAID, we all look forward to working with you on realizing the great potential of these priority relationships within Feed the Future.

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Last updated: December 06, 2022

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