Remarks with Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Kenya's Minister for Agriculture William Ruto at the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute

August 5, 2009
USAIDSecretary Clinton listens to a presentation by Miriam Otipa, head of KARI’s plant virology department, on genetic improvement to control viral diseases and produce clean planting materials for passion fruit, cassava and other crops.

Across Africa this morning, as I was getting up in my hotel room, millions and millions of people, mostly women, rose before dawn to begin their daily work tending crops and caring for livestock. By now, they have walked for miles to collect water for irrigation and guide their herds on grazing land. For millions of Africans, farming is a lifeline, the only source of income and food.

For the continent, as the minister reminded us, agriculture is the primary economic sector and an engine for future growth. And for the global community, agricultural development could help address one of the most urgent challenges we face: chronic hunger, which afflicts nearly a billion people worldwide, including one in three Africans, many of whom are children.

Here at the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute and at laboratories and greenhouses across the continent, African scientists are developing tools to boost productivity of Africa’s farms – part of a broad strategy to strengthen the entire agricultural sector, to increase income, to support rural communities, and to drive economic growth.