FAO's Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS) aims at supporting mainly low-income food deficit countries (LIFDCs) in their effort to:

- Improve their national food security through rapid increases in productivity and food production in an economically and environmentally sustainable basis;

- Reduce year-to-year variability in agricultural production;

- Improve people's access to food.

Moreover SPFS is a multidisciplinary programme with a strong emphasis on meeting people's needs directly by raising farmers's income, generating rural employment, increasing social equity and promoting gender sensitivity.

The SPFS programme was launched in 1994. Today 68 developing countries are covered by SPFS activities

SPFS allows countries to implement their national strategies to improve the livelihoods of rural people by expanding production on small farms through low-cost small-scale water harvesting, irrigation technologies and improved farming techniques to increase crop productivity and ensure diversification in small animal production, such as poultry, sheep, goats, pigs, including artisanal fishing and aquaculture.

The SPFS is founded on the concepts of national ownership with the participation of farmers and other stakeholders at all stages of Programme's implementation, participatory and multidisciplinary approach, poverty alleviation, priority given to small farmers, economic and environmental sustainability and social and gender equity.

The SPFS is expected to contribute substantially to the implementation of the World Food Summit Plan of Action in all the LIFDCs at the individual, household and national levels.

The Programme also uses the lessons from field experience to encourage policy adjustments to create a more favourable environment for enhancing agricultural investment.

South-South Cooperation is an important scheme within the framework of the SPFS. It is about allowing countries to benefit from the experience and expertise of other more advanced developing countries. This is done by providing experts for two or three years to work in the implementation of the SPFS in the recipient countries. The experts work directly with farmers in rural communities involved in the SPFS.

By April 2002, 26 South-South Cooperation agreements had been signed between countries.