Before addressing the African Union, US President Barrack Obama met several beneficiaries of US government development strategies and spoke to the press about Feed the Future, a $3.5 billion food security initiative that his government created in 2009 and is being implemented in Ethiopia and 18 countries around the world.
President Obama met with Ethiopian farmer Gifti Jemal Hussein, who began growing maize with hybrid seeds in 2012 under the AGP-Agribusiness Market Development Program (AMDe), a USAID funded program partnering with US firm Dupont-Pioneer and the Ethiopian government’s Agriculture Growth Program to increase maize yields and farmer incomes. The program is partnering with 420 farmer cooperatives across Ethiopia.
Hussein was recruited as part of the first group of 320 farmers who received Pioneer hybrid maize seeds, fertilizer and training. She and the others will eventually become certified seed dealers as the program scales up seed demonstrations and awareness campaigns to reach more than 30,000 farmers before the end of 2016.
After the first season, Hussein saw her maize yields more than double, and participating farmers averaged 7 metric tons per hectare compared to a typical yield of 2.5 metric tons per hectare in Ethiopia. Higher yields translate to more income, and stronger participating in the value chain, from processor to input supplier.
“With just a few smart interventions, a little bit of help, they can make huge improvements in their overall yields,” Obama said. The United States has historically been the largest donor to Ethiopia, but Obama said the project’s goal is to work more intelligently taking a comprehensive approach to food systems, and not just to pour in more money. “We are also able to create new markets by adding food processing alongside production.”
That’s why the USAID/Pioneer hybrid maize seed program is currently reaching 5000 farmers in over 170 Ethiopian communities this year. After 2013 and 2014 project implementation, the demand for Pioneer hybrid maize seed has seen an increase and Hussein will be there as seed supplier when the demand continues to rise.
See Obama speaking while standing next farmer Hussein at Ethiopian maize processor Faffa Foods factory below: