United States President Barack Obama announced Friday a private-public partnership of more than a $3 billion to fight hunger and malnutrition in Africa.

The White House said pledges from the private sector could lift 50 million people out of poverty over the next decade.

We recognize and will act upon the critical role played by smallholder farmers, especially women, in transforming agriculture and building thriving economies, the White House said.

The announcement from Obama marked the start of the Group of Eight (G8) leading industrial nations weekend summit at Camp David. The G8 consists of the U.S., Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, Canada and Russia. Though the focus of the summit is expected to be on the countries' economic difficulties, the leaders also want to discuss food security in Africa.

When famine threatened to cripple parts of Africa about three years ago, the G8 pledged $22 billion in food development at the L'Aquila Summit in Italy. That pledge period ends later this year and an accountability report will be released this weekend showing how much of the $22 billion is still on the sidelines, according to the Associated Press.

Global food prices rose in 2008. This led to more hunger, malnutrition and social unrest, Reuters reported.

Jesus Anton, a senior agricultural policy analyst at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, told Bloomberg that global food prices are likely to stay high until 2020 as population increases and emerging market economies grow.

The United Nations also said that food prices may stabilize at high levels and increase the risk of social unrest in the least developed countries of the world, according to Bloomberg.