Press Release 98/51
FAO ANNOUNCES 136 GRASSROOTS MICRO-PROJECTS WITH MONEY DONATED BY THE PUBLIC DURING LAST YEAR'S TV INFORMATION-FUNDRAISER "TELEFOOD"
ROME, September 8 -- Less than one year after the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) launched TeleFood, a global public awareness television event that raised more than $2 million to help small farmers, 136 small projects have been launched around the world, the UN agency announced today.
TeleFood projects are designed specifically to help small farmers, herders and artisanal fishers in the developing world to produce more food and improve nutrition at the grassroots level. There are 50 TeleFood projects in 23 African countries, 33 in 17 Latin American and Caribbean countries, eight Asian countries host 17 projects, six Near East and North African countries have 16 projects, Europe has 13 projects in five countries and the South Pacific region is home to seven TeleFood projects in five island nations.
TeleFood, now an annual event, will be aired this year in many countries around the world on October 16-18.
According to FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf, "TeleFood has one major objective: to raise awareness of the scale of the problem and encourage solidarity in the fight against hunger. In addition, we will also try to mobilize resources in a few countries for practical projects and programs to do something about it."
"We are not giving people food, but the means to grow it for themselves, to achieve their own food security and become independent of aid," Dr. Diouf said.
The first 136 TeleFood projects are targeted to achieve "self sufficiency" and many also reflect this year's World Food Day theme: "Women Feed the World," which was selected to stress the important contributions women make to home and national food security.
The TeleFood project in the Turkish village of Sahgeldi is typical of the philosophy behind the global initiative. In Sahgeldi, 30 women, known as "virtual widows" because their husbands have left marginal farming to look for work in the cities, were given four sheep each to fatten by growing animal feed on nearby government land. One of the village women, Gulistan Ircap, says that the sheep were her first legal possession and, when she sells their milk and cheese, it will be her first income ever.
Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Latvia and Moldova are European countries receiving small project assistance made possible through TeleFood donations.
In Asia and the Pacific region, TeleFood contributions have helped poor Bangladeshi families generate income through goat and poultry rearing. Cambodians have received assistance to increase the intensification and diversification of crops around irrigation systems. China has been helped with watermelon and potato production and development. People in the Maldives and Pakistan received TeleFood funding to increase poultry production, while in the Philippines, TeleFood funds are helping with bio-intensive vegetable and fruit crop output at the village level. A number of small-scale Sri Lankan fishers received insulated fish containers to help preserve fish quality. Women in the Cook Islands and Fiji are receiving TeleFood help to plant bananas and for small-scale pig farming. In Samoa, this assistance has improved beekeeping and developed a giant clam nursery. The Solomon Islands and Tonga received aid with fish projects.
Africa has benefited most from TeleFood, in recognition that it is the continent most in need. In the dry region of Kabatekenda, Senegal, a TeleFood project has funded the construction of four cement-lined reservoirs and provided two pedal pumps so that a small women's cooperative can grow fruit and vegetables. They have signed an agreement to sell their produce to workers at a nearby mining company. The project also supplied seeds, tools, fertilizer and pesticides. TeleFood projects are also operational in Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire , Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zambia.
In the Latin America and the Caribbean region, women in Antigua received TeleFood help to set up a vegetable seedling nursery project, while others in Barbuda received assistance with small-scale commercial poultry keeping. TeleFood has promoted family vegetable gardens in Brazil, and helped set up a school orchard. In Cuba, two consumer cooperatives received TeleFood help to improve seeds and vegetable production, while Haiti got assistance improving irrigation technology in St. Hillien and Alcina/Dorval. A micro-irrigation project was established in Honduras and Mexico received assistance with the establishment and cultivation of family gardens.
TeleFood donations helped establish two small-scale commercial poultry farms in the Near East, specifically in Lebanon, one in the Chouf Mountains, the other in Wadi Mousaileh. Iran, the Kyrgyz Republic. Mauritania, Morocco and Sudan are the other Near East and North African countries benefiting from contributions made to TeleFood.
Inaugurating the first TeleFood event, Dr. Diouf declared, "The fight against hunger is not an issue of charity; it is an issue of justice. Through TeleFood, we are looking for global solidarity and support in that fight."
The TeleFood initiative was conceived by Dr. Diouf as part of the annual World Food Day activities marking the anniversary of the foundation of FAO. It is also a follow-up to the 1996 World Food Summit in Rome, where 112 Heads of State and Government and other senior representatives from 186 countries agreed that the total number of hungry people in the world, estimated at more than 800 million, should be cut in half by the year 2015. The Summit called for the involvement of all components of civil society, from governments to private business and from Non-governmental Organizations to individuals, in the war against hunger.
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