Clinton, addressing the International Food Policy Research Bureau in Washington, said the East African drought would have been even more devastating than it has been without the program, The Washington Post reported. She said international aid programs have helped Ethiopia, one of the countries most affected by the drought, cut the number of people in danger of starving from 13 million during a similar drought in 2002 to 5 million.
"While some might say that this is a conversation for another time -- that we should worry about preventing food crises only after this one has passed -- I respectfully disagree," she said.
The program aims to provide small farmers with better seed and agricultural extension services.
The Obama administration has asked for $1.4 billion for the program next year. An appropriations subcommittee in the Republican-dominated House has proposed cutting that by at least one-third.