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AGRICULTURE REPORT - Two Efforts Seek to Increase Food Security in Africa

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This is the VOA Special English Agriculture Report.

For the past year, the World Food Program has operated a project to prevent hunger in twenty-one countries in Africa. In the project, the United Nations agency works with small farmers to grow more and better produce.

The World Food Program buys the produce through local cooperative associations. Then it distributes the products within the country or area. The project works mainly with women.

Farmers removing grains from rice grass in Ahero, Kenya
Farmers removing grains from rice grass in Ahero, Kenya

Sheila Sisulu from the World Food Program says the project aims to break a cycle that keeps people hungry. The situation is when farmers have to sell their produce at low prices after harvest, when supplies are greatest. Then they have to pay high prices to buy food for themselves during the "lean season," when supplies are limited.

But when farmers produce more food, they can sell more. And when they produce high-quality food, they can get higher prices. They can also store food for themselves, and have enough money to buy food if they need to during the lean season. Sheila Sisulu says the farmers are now starting to earn profits through the project.

The Food and Agriculture Organization and the International Fund for Agricultural Development help the farmers choose the best seeds and fertilizers. They also advise the farmers on the quality levels that the World Food Program requires to buy their produce.

Two other groups recently launched a separate effort to increase food security in Africa. The groups are the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa and the New Partnership for Africa's Development.

They say African governments have to increase their investment in agriculture in order to fight problems related to climate change. The groups want the governments to develop programs in seeds, soil health, policy and markets.

Former United Nations chief Kofi Annan is the chairman of AGRA. The group's president, Namanga Ngongi, says many African governments are not meeting a target of spending ten percent of their national budgets on agriculture. But he says investment has risen from four percent of national budgets to probably five and a half percent today.

And that's the VOA Special English Agriculture Report. Today's report was written by Jerilyn Watson, with Lisa Schlein in Geneva and Selah Hennessy in London. You can find transcripts, podcasts and archives of our reports at www.unsv.com. I'm Jim Tedder.

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