17 December 2003, Rome -
Agricultural development has always been driven by transfer of
ideas, seeds and experience between different regions.
Exchanging views and methodologies can be a
fertile source of innovation and partnerships.
FAO's South-South Cooperation initiative was
created in 1996 as part of the Special Programme for Food
Security (SPFS), to allow recipient countries of the programme
to benefit from the relevant strengths, experience and expertise
of other developing countries.
This week in
Marrakech, the G-77 countries which include 135 developing
countries around the world, will meet during a High-Level
Conference on South-South Cooperation to identify ways and means
of strengthening and expanding such cooperation.
International aid organizations, donor countries and
UN agencies, including FAO, will also be present.
"To fight against hunger, we need to combine
efforts, experience, and knowledge," explains FAO Field
Operations Director Andrew MacMillan.
"This Conference is a great opportunity to
continue building an International Alliance against Hunger.
South-South Cooperation is about allowing countries to benefit
from the experience and expertise of other more advanced
developing countries," he adds.
FAO's South-South Cooperation
FAO launched the Special Programme for Food
Security (SPFS) in 1994, two years ahead of the 1996 World Food
Summit, as the flagship programme to assist its developing
member countries to reduce hunger and malnutrition.
It was designed to improve household food security and
rural livelihoods and stimulate the growth of local economies.
The South-South Cooperation initiative
promotes expertise from other developing countries where experts
often have a closer understanding of the social, cultural and
economic realities of development within a context of food
insecurity and poverty.
Its objectives are
to enhance solidarity among developing countries and to allow
the recipient countries to benefit from the relevant strengths,
experience and expertise of other developing countries in a
pragmatic and cost effective manner.
"This is done by providing experts for two or
three years to work in the implementation of the SPFS in the
recipient countries," explains MacMillan.
"Senior experts and a substantial number of
field technicians with strong practical experience work directly
with crop producers, animal breeders, fisher folk to increase
their productivity and production and improve the
community's access to food."
Working together, sharing costs
One of the programme's strengths is
the low costs involved. They are shared between donor and
recipient countries, funding institutions or third donor
countries and FAO.
The cooperating country
continues to pay regular salaries for the technician's or
expert's family and the host country provides
accommodation, a small stipend and travel expenses.
Up to now, ten cooperating countries have signed
agreements with 28 host countries. Egyptian irrigation experts
are currently sharing knowledge with their Tanzanian peers and
more than 500 Chinese field experts will expend the next three
years in Nigeria- all paid by Nigeria itself.
And the list of interested countries continues to
"The South-South Cooperation
programme builds a climate of shared responsibility and
solidarity between developing countries," MacMillan
"FAO is keen to see the
conference support an expansion of field projects for
South-South Cooperation in food production in order to tackle
chronic hunger and food insecurity, especially in the
sub-Saharan African region."
Nuria Felipe Soria
(+39) 06 570