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Gates: Countries behind on global food security pledges

Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates said Monday that the G20 countries that two years ago pledged to spend $22 billion on food security have disbursed or made plans to disburse only half that amount, and that he will tell G20 leaders next week in Cannes, France, that they must live up to those pledges.

Bill Gates
Bill Gates, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
"I'’ll be taking a message to the G20 that we can'’t turn our backs on the world’'s poorest, even in these tough economic times,”" Gates said at a ceremony at the State Department.“ "Our current fiscal crisis shouldn'’t force cuts in programs like agriculture that build self-sufficiency, pay huge returns, and advance stability and economic growth.”"

At the ceremony, WFP-USA, a private U.S. group that supports the World Food Program, presented its 2011 George McGovern Leadership Award to Gates and Howard G. Buffett in recognition of the roles that their foundations have played in supporting WFP's Purchase for Progress (P4P) pilot program in 21 countries.

BuffettHoward
Howard G. Buffett, Howard G. Buffett Foundation
Under P4P, WFP buys food from farmers in developing countries for its food distribution programs.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has given $67.1 million to WFP and the Howard G. Buffett Foundation has given $29 million for an initiative that is supporting small-scale farmers in developing countries, helping them to improve yields, raise quality, and connect more directly with local markets, WFP said in a news release.

Also at the ceremony, the U.S. Agency for International Development announced it will expand its assistance to P4P. The two agencies said they had signed a memo of understanding to address access to finance for smallholder farmers in four countries in eastern and southern Africa: Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.