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Special Programme for Food Security: After El Niño in Ecuador

Two years ago, FAO initiated a project within the framework of its Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS) that helped 530 families in the Ecuadorian province of Manabi get on their feet again after the devastating effects of the weather phenomenon El Niño.

The project aimed at improving food security through diversification of crops and irrigation. Emphasis was placed on training in sustainable water use, soil improvement and growing new types of crops. The project has also promoted post-harvest techniques and organization of local farmers groups.

The budget of the project was US$456 000 and was funded by FAO's SPFS programme and the Government of Ecuador. It ended in August 2001 and is currently being evaluated.

The main objective of the SPFS programme is to help low-income food-deficit countries improve food security at both national and household levels through rapid increases in food production and productivity, by reducing year-to-year variability in production.

The underlying assumption is that viable and sustainable means of increasing food availability exist in most of these countries but are not realized because of a range of constraints that prevent farmers from responding to needs and opportunities. By working with farmers and other stakeholders to identify and resolve such constraints -- whether technical, economic, social, institutional or policy constraints -- and to demonstrate ways of increasing production, the SPFS should open the way for improved productivity and broader access to food. 

11 September 2001

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©FAO, 2001