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Press Release 99/15


Rome, 18 March 1999. - The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) today signed separate agreements with the World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to strengthen cooperation in support of world food security.

This initiative is a follow-up to the World Food Summit (November 1996) which called for concerted efforts at all levels to raise food production and increase access to food in over 80 low-income food deficit countries, many of which are in Africa, with the objective of reducing by half the present level of malnourished people in the world by the year 2015.

The agreement signed by FAO Director-General, Dr. Jacques Diouf, and WFP Executive Director, Ms Catherine Bertini, underlines that "existing co-operative activities should be expanded further, in the context of the Special Programme for Food Security" launched by FAO in 1994 to help poor countries increase food production and productivity. The Special Programme responds to the urgent need to boost production in low-income food deficit countries in order to cut costs and facilitate access to food by the poor communities in rural and urban areas. It is currently under implementation in 39 low-income food deficit countries and being formulated in 34 others.

The Special Programme for Food Security offers great opportunities for concrete joint cooperation and action in the field. National programme implementation begins with a Pilot Phase in selected areas in a country and lasts about three years. The Pilot Phase includes four separate but interrelated components responding to the challenges facing small farmers, notably water control, involving small-scale water harvesting, irrigation and drainage systems; intensification of sustainable plant production systems including tree crops and the transfer of technologies accessible to all; diversification of production, including aquaculture, artisanal fisheries and small animals; and analysis of socio-economic constraints to food security with special attention given to gender and vulnerable groups as well as issues such as access to technology, land, inputs, transport, storage, market, credit and agroprocessing.

The Pilot Phase is intended to be followed by a Second Phase which replicates on a wider scale the innovative approaches identified during the Pilot Phase. It covers the assistance to governments to improve their food security and agricultural policy, to prepare agricultural investment programmes to overcome the physical constraints, including infrastructure, and to develop feasibility studies of bankable projects which would increase the flow of private and public financing of agricultural activities and services.

The agreement signed by the FAO Director-General and IFAD President, Mr. Fawzi Al-Sultan, also underlines the need to raise food production and increase access to food in low-income food deficit countries - many of which are in Africa - in the context of FAO's Special Programme for Food Security.

FAO and IFAD recognize the great importance of helping African countries achieve sustainable rural and agricultural development. Both institutions agree that, for this purpose, "it is essential to address the vital questions of household food security and rural poverty alleviation."

The agreement underlines that IFAD and FAO shall cooperate closely in field operations and that existing collaborative activities shall be used as a basis for developing further joint activities in the poorest areas of Africa and other low-income food deficit countries.


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