TOKYO, Oct 12 (Reuters) - Japan and South Korea on Thursday pledged a total of $60 million to a global donor fund managed by the World Bank that offers grants to poor countries to improve agricultural production.
The Global Agriculture and Food Security Program was launched in April 2010 by donor countries following a 2008 food price crisis, which highlighted years of underinvestment in agricultural in the world’s developing countries.
Speaking on the sidelines of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings in Tokyo, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner challenged more donors to come forward. As of June 2012, nine donors, including Canada, Australia, Spain, Britain, the Netherlands and Ireland, had pledged a total of $1.25 billion to the fund.
Geithner said the United States would chip in an extra $1 for every $2 committed by other donors, up to a total U.S. contribution of $475 million.
“We’re meeting in Tokyo at a time where we face a range of formidable challenges and among those is the critical imperative of boosting food security around the world,” Geithner told a meeting of donors.
“Nearly 1 billion people around the world suffer from hunger and this level of deprivation and poverty has enormous economic, political and security consequences,” he added.
The World Bank said the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation had also indicated it would double its initial commitment of $30 million to the fund.
So far, the fund has issued grants worth $481 million to 12 countries in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean.