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Government leaders pose at the G8 summit in L'Aquila, central Italy -- July 10, 2009. - 


Bill Radke: You know the old saying, give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day, teach him to fish and he'll eat for life? In Italy this morning, G8 leaders are taking that to heart with a new $20 billion plan for world food aid. From our European Desk, Stephen Beard reports.

Stephen Beard: No one doubts the scale of the crisis. The U.N. reckons a billion people will go hungry this year. Today, the G8 is proposing to tackle the problem with a different approach to move the emphasis away from direct donations of food towards investment in third world agriculture. The idea is to help farmers in poor countries become more productive.

John Slater of the Oxfam aid agency welcomes the plan:

John Slater: The purpose of aid should be to help people stand on their own two feet, not to leave people continuously dependent on aid. And investing in long-term agriculture helps do that.

If the plan proves effective, it will mean that the U.S. government, the largest food donor, will send more cash to the developing world and less homegrown produce bought from American farmers.

In London, this is Stephen Beard for Marketplace.