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Conference To Focus on Increasing Agricultural Productivity and Reducing Hunger

WASHINGTON, June 1, 2004 – Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture will co-host with the government of Burkina Faso a regional science and technology ministerial conference June 21-23 in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, for 15 West African countries.

This West African regional conference will build on the June 2003 Ministerial Conference on Agricultural Science and Technology in Sacramento, Calif., and follows a just-concluded Central American science and technology regional conference in Costa Rica co-sponsored by USDA, the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture and agencies of the Costa Rican government.

"This conference is an opportunity to share information on technologies, policies and partnerships to increase agricultural productivity in West Africa," said Veneman. "In a supportive policy environment, science and technology have the potential to help reduce hunger, improve nutrition, elevate living standards and unleash the productive and economic potential of African economies."

Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services J.B. Penn will lead the U.S. delegation to the conference, which is titled "Ministerial Conference on Harnessing Science and Technology To Increase Agricultural Productivity in Africa: West African Perspectives."

Scheduled speakers include President Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso, President John Kufuor of Ghana, President Amadou Toumani Toure of Mali, President Mamadou Tandja of Niger, Burkinabe Minister of State and Minister for Agriculture Salif Diallo, other ministers of African governments, and officials of USDA, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the U.S. Department of State, among others.

Workshops will focus on four central themes, including water management, biotechnology and biosafety, public-private partnerships, and regulatory policies and frameworks that will support efforts to increase agricultural productivity, technology transfer and economic growth in Africa. The conference will support the Presidential Initiative to End Hunger in Africa, the Water for the Poor Initiative and the Trade for African Development and Enterprise Initiative.

Some 300-400 invited participants are expected to attend, including ministers and other officials from Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo. In addition to government ministers of agriculture, environment, and science and technology, representatives have been invited from international and regional African organizations, nongovernmental organizations, the private sector and several African and U.S. universities.

The conference is co-sponsored by USDA, the U.S. Department of State, USAID, and the Burkina Faso Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Fisheries Resources. Advisory support is being provided by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) and the Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS).

Media interested in attending the conference must register in advance and should contact Linda Habenstreit, FAS-USDA Public Affairs, at (202) 720-9442 or by e-mail at Additional information about the conference is available on the Internet at


PR 0104-04

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