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Obama: 'Millet and Maize and Fertilizer Doesn’t Always Make for Sexy Copy'

3:25 PM, Jun 28, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
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At the Radisson Blu in Dakar, Senegal, President Obama tried to get reporters to write about issues he believes are important. "[M]illet and maize and fertilizer doesn’t always make for sexy copy, but I very much hope that all the press who were in attendance today generate a story about this," Obama told the press.

The remarks came after a Food Security Expo in the African nation.

"And here at this expo, we’re seeing some of these new technologies that will unleash even more progress -- that includes how farmers here in Senegal are using their cell phones to share data so they get the best price when they bring their products to market," said Obama.

We’ve set a goal of lifting 50 million people from poverty within a decade, which is ambitious but achievable. And given the millions of people that we’re already reaching, and the enthusiasm that we’ve seen today, I’m confident we’re on our way. So as I said before, I think this is a moral imperative. I believe that Africa is rising and it wants to partner with us, not to be dependent but to be self-sufficient. And what we’re seeing here today are business people, farmers, academics, researchers, scientists, all combining some of the best practices that have been developed over the course now of decades, and leveraging it into concrete improvements in people’s lives.

And I want to just say thank you to Raj Shah, the head of USAID* because Raj is an example of the kind of incredible work that’s being done by our government, helping to coordinate and facilitate this tremendous progress. And I want to thank all the farmers and researchers and workers who have been helping to make this possible here in Senegal and throughout this region.

So when people ask what’s happening to their taxpayer dollars in foreign aid, I want people to know this money is not being wasted -- it’s helping feed families. It’s helping people to become more self-sufficient. And it’s creating new markets for U.S. companies and U.S. goods. It’s a win-win situation. And I know that millet and maize and fertilizer doesn’t always make for sexy copy, but I very much hope that all the press who were in attendance today generate a story about this, because I think if the American people knew the kind of work that was being done as a consequence of their generosity and their efforts, I think they’d be really proud.

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