July 31, 2010 / 9:58 AM / 10 years ago

Food fund to release $120 mln in October-official

A bank employee poses holding U.S. one hundred dollar notes during a photo opportunity at a bank in Seoul November 19, 2009. REUTERS/Choi Bu-Seok

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A global fund to boost agricultural investment in the world’s poor countries will release about $120 million in October to states who qualify, a senior U.S. Treasury said on Friday.

Treasury Under-Secretary Lael Brainard said more than 25 countries are expected to ask for funding from under the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program.

The fund was launched in April to boost agricultural production in poor countries following a steep and sudden rise in food prices in 2008, which highlighted the years of underinvestment in agriculture.

On Friday, representatives from 11 African nations met with Brainard and Sylvia Mathews Burwell, president of global development at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has contributed to the fund.

Brainard urged more donors to step forward with funding for the program following $22 billion in pledges by the Group of Eight leaders’ summit in Italy last year.

The first round of grants totaling $224 million went to Bangladesh, Haiti, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Togo.

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