U.S. President Barack Obama will bring a welcome new focus on strengthening African food production in his policy towards the continent, Senegal’s President Abdoulaye Wade said on Friday. Wade has championed efforts to increase agriculture in his West African country, heavily dependent on food imports.

AFRICAN FARMSBoth he and Obama were in Italy for the G8 summit, expected to bring promises of $15 billion over three years for agriculture in poor countries. From there, Obama will make his first visit to Africa as president. “I had a long discussion with President Obama. It seems to me that he really has the will to focus on food in Africa,” Wade told Reuters by telephone from Italy.

“The United States produces maize and some crops and sends it to people in famine, but the new conception is to produce these crops in Africa and not in the United States,” Wade said. Wade said African states needed technical help and not just money, complaining that G8 countries fail to live up to their promises on aid. African states also want to ensure they are not put at a disadvantage by foreign tariffs and subsidies.

“I have been coming to the G8 since 2000 and until now I have never seen any execution or application of what was promised,” he said, repeating a long-standing gripe. Private investors and food-importing states are also eyeing African agricultural opportunities after food price spikes last year, prompting fears of a “land grab”. Wade said he supported G8 efforts to prevent deals in which poor states sell land.



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