Obama in Senegal
President Obama’s first stop on his trip to Africa was Senegal, a fitting choice for a president who has made agriculture and food security major issues during his presidency. Senegal’s recent progress, which the President mentioned during his speech in Dakar, exemplifies the promise of the President’s approach to agriculture and food security.

In recent years, Senegal has made great strides in improving the standard of living for its citizens. The country has reduced poverty dramatically and is on track to halve the proportion of the population whose income is less than $1.25 per day.

Senegal’s government has also prioritized spending on agriculture. Agriculture expenditures represented 109.6 million, or 9.5% of the government’s total spending for 2011. Between 2003 and 2009, Senegal spent an average of 12.1% of the budget on agriculture. This increased spending has translated into strong growth for the sector.

The United States has played a large role in Senegal’s improvements and will continue to support the country. The U.S. plans to continue supporting programs that improve farmer productivity. With U.S. support, Senegal’s national agriculture plan emphasizes strengthening crop productivity through the distribution of seeds, fertilizers, and tools.

The private sector of the United States can also play a crucial role in the development of the agricultural sector of Senegal. In the President’s remarks in Dakar, he said he looks forward to Senegal joining the G8’s New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition later this year. The New Alliance’s model combines pro-investment policies committed to by African governments, substantial private sector investments to strengthen agricultural productivity for smallholder farms, and donor government support for country-led plans.

– Matthew Jackoski

Source: ABC News, ONE
Photo: Global Post