Remarks by Ambassador Michael Raynor
Launch of Corteva Agriscience
Sheraton Hotel, Addis Ababa
Wednesday April 24, 2019
(As prepared for delivery)
I’m very happy and honored to be here today for the launch of a brand-new American company in Ethiopia: Corteva Agriscience.
While Corteva itself is new, it’s built on a foundation of more than 200 years of combined experience from some of the United States’ most esteemed companies, including Dow Agrosciences, DuPont Crop Protection, Pioneer Hibred, and PANNAR.
Corteva also builds upon the strong historical ties of these parent companies in Ethiopia, some of which have been improving agricultural productivity here since the 1960s.
So Corteva is both a very new and innovative company, and one with exceptionally deep expertise and a strong history of mutually beneficial investment in Ethiopia.
Today’s launch of Corteva here in Ethiopia is exciting for several reasons.
The first, and perhaps most obvious, is the world-class capacity Corteva brings to increasing agricultural output, for the benefit of both producers and consumers.
But I would add a few more benefits to the list as well.
The second is the impact that Corteva will have in promoting private sector opportunities and job creation more broadly, in both Ethiopia and the United States.
Third, Corteva’s impact will contribute to the achievement of Ethiopia’s strategic vision of broad-based economic growth and development.
Fourth, Corteva’s engagement will bring continued gains in meeting Ethiopia’s food security and humanitarian needs, while supporting many Ethiopians on their path to self-reliance.
And Fifth, all of these benefits will complement the significant investments being made by the U.S. Government, to support Ethiopia’s political and economic reforms and to advance Ethiopia’s goal of a prosperous, stable, and democratically inclusive future.
Corteva’s launch in Ethiopia also offers tremendous opportunities to build upon the U.S. Government’s ongoing investments in Ethiopia’s agricultural capacity.
The United States recently announced a partnership with the Ethiopian Government for a new, five-year Feed the Future strategy that will invest in food security, build resilience, and accelerate economic growth.
Ethiopia is one of only 12 countries worldwide chosen for this new initiative, reflecting the United States’ fullest confidence in the value and promise of our development partnership with Ethiopia.
Already, under the previous phase of Feed the Future, more than one million farmers have learned how to adopt new technologies like better seeds and cultivation methods to improve productivity.
Under the new phase of Feed the Future, we’ll build upon these gains while further strengthening our engagement with the private sector to find innovative solutions to the challenges Ethiopia faces.
And that’s where companies like Corteva come in.
We’ve already seen how successful these partnerships can be.
Under the first phase of Feed the Future, there was an important partnership between the U.S. Government, the Government of Ethiopia, and Corteva – which was then known as DuPont Pioneer – that enabled over two hundred and fifty thousand maize farmers to nearly triple their average production and increase their average annual incomes by one thousand five hundred dollars.
As impressive as these gains are, they only scratch the surface of the potential for private-public collaboration to boost Ethiopia’s agricultural productivity, drawing on the proven success of the United States’ agricultural sector.
Over the last 70 years, U.S. agricultural output has increased by 170%, even as land use fell by 24%.
These gains were the direct result of decades of investment and research into agricultural technology, and the launch of Corteva will expand the impact of this experience and know-how here in Ethiopia.
As I mentioned at the outset, though, the potential Corteva brings to Ethiopia is about much more than food production, as important as that is.
For one thing, it’s also about food security.
I’m proud that the U.S. Government, and the American people, have reliably and repeatedly stepped up to help Ethiopians in need.
The United States is well known for its longstanding commitment as the largest bilateral provider of humanitarian assistance, by far, in Ethiopia.
But the ultimate goal of our two countries is to quickly reach the point where Ethiopians no longer need such support, and companies like Corteva can help Ethiopia produce all the food it needs and more.
With over 80% of the country employed in agriculture, improving productivity is also key to unleashing the economic potential of Ethiopia’s rural population.
Ethiopia’s youth account for over two-thirds of its population, and pressures for job creation and economic opportunities will only grow.
Corteva’s commitment to Ethiopia’s agriculture development is also a commitment to Ethiopia’s job creation, broader economic agenda, and lasting prosperity.
Corteva, and other U.S. companies like it, bring more than best-in-class seeds and crop protection solutions: they also have the capacity to look across the entire food supply chain to help farmers understand how they can better match their efforts to market demands.
The U.S. private sector, including companies like Corteva, plays an impactful role in Ethiopia’s broader society as well, by encouraging sustainability and corporate social responsibility.
By this, I mean the kinds of win-win commercial activity that benefit both our countries by bringing meaningful job creation; respectful and responsible labor practices; strong training and skills-development programs; technology transfer; and sound environmental practices to bear.
U.S. companies like Corteva understand that they only succeed when their host communities succeed as well.
Corteva’s commitment to Ethiopia is the latest example of growing interest from U.S. businesses in this country.
While my U.S. Embassy colleagues and I are very proud of how U.S. Government investments in the Ethiopian people are paying off, leveraging the capacity of American businesses – including the most successful and productive agricultural sector in the world – offers even more exciting possibilities for both our nations.
At this particular moment, when the future of Ethiopia has never been more full of promise and potential, I’m very excited to see what the ever-growing collaboration between the United States, Ethiopia, and high-quality U.S. firms like Corteva, will bring.
Please know that the U.S. Government will remain your committed partner every step of the way, and we wish you great success in the days ahead.