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Investing in food security

May 18, 2012

President Obama delivered the opening keynote on May 18 to the Symposium on Global Agriculture and Food Security in Washington, D.C. The event precedes the G8Crops in field summit Saturday May 20 at Camp David, where leaders will meet to discuss the challenge of feeding a growing world.

The focus of the event underscores how food security remains a major challenge: The U.S. government’s Feed the Future initiative says that global hunger and chronic malnutrition are two of the greatest development challenges today. To meet growing demand, world agriculture production will need to double over the next 18 years. And, while a rapidly growing population makes the challenge of food security a moving target, increasingly limited natural resources also increase the need for more creative solutions that effectively produce more food with less land, water and other resources.

Food security is today a pillar of The United States’ development strategy and because of the size of the challenge, there is a growing recognition that it will require both aid and private capital to address. By catalyzing private sector investment in agriculture and related food projects, OPIC and other development finance institutions help to increase the amount of resources devoted to this challenges, that is clearly too big for governments or nonprofits to address on their own. As OPIC works to invest in projects that advance food security, it also recognizes that increasing food production is only part of the challenge. Many of OPIC’s projects support food storage and transportation and access to clean potable water, to help ensure that the world makes the most of its limited food resources; as well as preservation of the world’s forests and natural resources, which will help promote food production over time.

Ensuring that a population has enough to eat goes a long way to supporting its overall health as well as its economic and political security. Some of OPIC’s recent projects in this sector have supported:

Restoring food production in Haiti. OPIC provided political risk insurance to the partners reconstructing a flour mill and animal feed facility that was destroyed in the 2010 earthquake. The new plant was built with more modern equipment and expanded capacity to increase the distribution of food throughout Haiti.

Supplying clean drinking water in Algeria. $200 million in OPIC financing for the construction of a reverse-osmosis water desalination facility that is delivering clean water to about 350,000 families in and around Algiers.

Expanded dairy production in Georgia. OPIC has provided two loans to support the expansion of a dairy manufacturing and juice processing facility in Tbilisi. The funds will help the plant add equipment for the production of butter and processed cheese so that it can make use of all the byproducts of milk production and turn them into other dairy food products.

Food processing in Moldova. An OPIC small business loan is supporting construction of a grain loading terminal and oilseed crushing facility, which will enable the country’s agriculture businesses to export excess food.

Preserving forests in Cambodia. OPIC insurance is supporting a Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) project that will help preserve a large swath of Cambodian forest.

See a live stream of the discussion: Advancing Food and Nutrition Security at the G8 Summit.


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