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How to Feed the Peoples of India and Africa?

    Hello, and welcome to “As It Is,” our daily show for people learning American English.

    I’m Christopher Cruise in Washington.

    Today on the program, we look at whether African leaders have kept the promise they made ten years ago to spend more money on agriculture research.

    “…the level of execution, the real expenditure of this budget, remain unfortunately very low -- between 65 to 70 percent of the resources allocated are really spent [on farmers.]”

    And we take you back 119 years, to the day when workers began building the foundation on which the Statue of Liberty would stand, on an island in New York harbor.

    “He realized his statue would have a greater impact in the busiest harbor.”

    But first, we go to India, where the government says it has a plan to help the country’s many millions of poor people deal with the rising cost of food…

    In India, Worry About Sharply-Rising Food Prices
    The Indian government says it will pay to lower the cost of food grains for more than two-thirds of the country’s 1.2 billion people. But not everyone thinks the program will work. And some critics believe the government is supporting the plan only to get votes.

    Faith Lapidus reports…

    Food prices continue to rise in India’s capital, New Delhi. So Geeta Kashyap negotiates even harder at a local market to persuade food sellers to lower their prices.

    “Everything is so expensive now, diesel is expensive, gasoline is expensive, food is getting expensive -- tomatoes that used to be 20 rupees a kilo are now 70 rupees a kilo -- how can someone eat?”

    A farmer plows the field in Saulawa village on the outskirts of Kaduna.
    Now, ten years after the Declaration, aid groups are urging AU countries to repeat their commitment.

    Mario Ritter reports…

    Many countries spend less than three percent of their budgets on investment in agriculture. Yet small-scale farmers represent more than 80 percent of their populations.

    Eric Hazard is with the West Africa GROW campaign, a program operated by Oxfam International.

    “In Africa, we know that 90 percent of the population living in rural area(s) is living with agriculture and by agriculture. We also know that we are, in some region(s), for example, in West Africa, where we are facing some regular and recurring crisis, food crisis. So we can’t continue to believe that we’ll be able to resolve the food insecurities that all population are facing only by ignoring this sector. So it’s critical in term(s) of guarantees of food security of the population, but it’s also critical to ensure that we will reduce seriously the poverty.”

    Eric Hazard says investing in livestock is also important.

    For example, in Niger, live animals are responsible for about 22 percent of the country’s exports. Farm animals are considered an important method of reducing poverty among the country’s poorest people. But only 1.7 percent of the national budget is spent on livestock investment.

    People stand in a food line at the small town of Tchadoua around 40 kilometers from the town of Maradi, Niger.
    Mr. Hazard says while reaching the 10 percent goal is important, it is only the first step. He says the quality of the investment is also important.

    “Even countries which I’ve been able to reach -- I can take, for example, the case of Burkina Faso, who is the champion of Maputo, is the first one, in fact, who has dedicated the most resources in its agriculture budget -- the level of execution, the real expenditure of this budget, remain unfortunately very low -- between 65 to 70 percent of resources allocated are really spent [on farmers.]”

    Eric Hazard says the money is often used on wages for government employees.

    A food and nutrition crisis faces countries in West Africa's drought-prone Sahel region.
    Experts predict West Africa’s population will double by the year 2030. To avoid further and more severe food crises, aid organizations are urging AU countries to re-state their commitment to the Maputo Declaration and make the promised investments in agriculture.

    I’m Mario Ritter.

    Statue of Liberty Begins Her Rise
    Finally, on August 5th, 1884, workers began building the Statue of Liberty’s pedestal, or foundation, on a small island in New York Harbor.