September 26, 2012
The Clinton Global Initiative, or CGI, wrapped up its annual meeting in New York with a focus on food security. The three-day event garnered millions of dollars to help address problems of global poverty and disease.
The explosive growth of the world’s population figured in several CGI discussions over the past three days. Judith Rodin, president of the Rockefeller Foundation, underscored the ramifications for food security.
"Given that population is expected to increase by two billion more people, we will need two-and-a-half times the amount of food produced in the next 90 years than in the prior 8,000 years," she said.
Meeting humanity’s growing needs will require more efficient food production. Jason Clay, senior vice president of the World Wildlife Fund, said people everywhere waste about one of every three food calories.
"That has impact on water, greenhouse gas emission and soil erosion and all kinds of things. It’s a compounding factor," he said.
Nigeria's Agriculture Minister Akinwumi Adesina said his government is no longer in the business of selling seeds and fertilizer. He said when government was involved, corruption was chronic.
"Fertilizer develops hands and legs and walks away from the poor farmers and gets into the farms of rich guys," he said.
CGI host, former President Bill Clinton, invited Egypt’s new president, Mohamed Morsi, for a discussion about democratization of that country. Morsi touched on the issue of Egyptian food production.
"We have to enact laws to encourage agriculture and to eliminate excessive bureaucracy, because excessive bureaucracy kills development," he said.
Clinton closed this year’s CGI by introducing Chen Li, a woman who was hidden from him when he visited a village in China, because people did not want the American president to see a disabled person. Chen Li remained undaunted and not only married, but became a spokesperson for the disabled in China. He met her only later.
"It was one of the most life-affirming experiences I ever had," he said. "So, when you get discouraged, just remember this: unless somebody left you on a bed because the people in the village were afraid that there was something wrong about being disabled, then you really don’t have any problems."
Clinton said the CGI has garnered tens of billions of dollars in contributions during its eight years of existence, helping an estimated 400 million people worldwide.