Obama Pushes for Foreign Farm Aid

President Obama is proposing that the world’s wealthiest nations contribute $15 billion over the next three years to help farmers in poor countries grow more food and thereby reduce world hunger.  The money would go to providing high-yield seeds, fertilizers, crop-storage facilities and other key items to Sub-Saharan Africa and other rural areas where the bulk of the world’s one billion hungry people live.

In the past, aid from the US and other economic powers has come in the form of food shipments from the developed world to the developing world.  But economists and agricultural experts have advocated for a different approach, essentially heeding the proverb that if you give a man a fish you feed him for a day, but if you teach a man to fish you feed him for a lifetime. 

While Obama’s new initiative is commendable, it fails to address one of the major contributing factors of world hunger, which is government subsidies for farmers in the US and Europe, particularly France.  Such subsidies, which are politically rather than economically motivated, raise the global price of food and make it tougher for impoverished people to afford it.  Wealthy nations need to stop artificially raising the cost of agricultural products if they are serious about helping poor people.

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