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Press Release 97/50

ECUADOR PRESIDENT FABIAN ALARCON RIVERA AND FAO DIRECTOR-GENERAL JACQUES DIOUF SIGN AN AGREEMENT TO IMPLEMENT FAO'S SPECIAL PROGRAMME FOR FOOD SECURITY IN ECUADOR


Rome, October 19 -- The President of Ecuador, Fabián Alarcón Rivera and the Director-General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) signed an agreement today at FAO Headquarters in Rome launching the Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS) in Ecuador. The SPFS is designed to help farmers increase their food production and productivity to improve their overall incomes.

Ecuador becomes the third country in Latin America and the Caribbean participate in the Programme, bringing worldwide participation to 21 countries. The SPFS is under formulation in another forty countries.

President Alarcon announced that Ecuador is developing a national food security strategy. The SPFS is essentially a national responsibility. Two areas have been selected for pilot SPFS projects: the Rio Portoviejo valley in the coastal province of Manabi and Ambuqui in the mountain province of Imbabura.

In Río Portovejo some 523 farmers with plots averaging 1.8 hectares will be part of the programme. The crops in the area are many, including maize, peanuts, vegetables, lemons and coconut. There is an irrigation system, but there are problems with water use and distribution, which the SPFS will work to solve.

In Ambuqui, about 50 farm families with small-holding will be working as part of the SPFS. The area is mainly agrarian with crops that include, beans, fruit trees, sugar cane, tubers and other legumes. The Ambuqui irrigation system presents serious problems and the area in general is depressed having been unable to make effective use of the soil, water and climate, all of which should be favorable.

Implementation of the SPFS consists of two phases: a pilot phase lasting about three years, followed by an expansion phase that takes place after results from the components of the pilot phase have been assessed and a policy and investment plan have been prepared and approved.

In Ecuador the main objective of the pilot phase is to improve water control and the efficiency of small scale irrigation systems in order to secure production increased for basic foodstuffs through sustainable cultivation practices, and to increase family incomes.

The Special Programme for Food Security was conceived by FAO's Director-General following a review that found improved food security should be reaffirmed as a top priority and that there was an urgent need for FAO's programs to focus on increasing food production, improving stability of supplies and generating rural employment to improve access to food.

FAO has allocated $10 million to SPFS in the 1996/97 biennium, allowing the Organization to play a catalytic role in attracting funding by financing institutions and FAO member countries.

 


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