FAO and Brazil collaborate to promote school nutrition and food security

Brazil and FAO will work together on school nutrition programmes in poor countries, according to a multilateral agreement signed in Rome today.

© FAO/D. Sy

17 October 2005, Rome - Through this initiative, Brazil wants other countries to benefit from its National School Nutrition Programme and from the experience gained through the Zero Hunger Programme championed by President Lula.

"This is a special occasion as we start a new era of collaboration between the Government of Brazil and FAO in support of other countries for better nutrition, especially for schoolchildren," said FAO Assistant Director-General, Henri Carsalade.

The first country to benefit from the Brazilian school nutrition experience will be Haiti, whereas three African countries, Angola, Cape Verde and Mozambique will collaborate with Brazil and FAO in food security programmes. Other countries may join later. Brazil will send nutrition and food security experts to these countries to assist them, together with FAO technical services, in developing national school feeding and food security projects.

In Brazil, the National School Nutrition Programme provides meals to 37 million schoolchildren and adolescents of up to 14 years of age, representing around 20 percent of the country's population.

Brazil invests about $500 million per year in feeding its children. "Brazil's "Zero Hunger" programme is known for its efficiency and efficacy and holds great promise for other countries," said Carsalade.

Good nutrition critical for learning

It is generally agreed that education is essential for a country's development and effective education requires pupils to enjoy adequate nutrition.

School nutrition programmes constitute a tool that enables hundreds of millions of poor children worldwide to attend school in developed and developing countries alike. They improve children's health, increase students' school attendance and retention and enhance learning.

"One of the advantages of school nutrition programmes and school feeding is that, in addition to enabling education, it has positive direct and indirect benefits relating to a number of other development goals such as the reduction of hunger and poverty, gender equity, HIV/AIDS care and prevention, and improvements in health," said Carsalade.

Today's agreement was signed by the Minister for Education of Brazil, Fernando Haddad, the Ambassador of Brazil to FAO, Flávio Miragaia Perri and FAO Assistant Director-General Henri Carsalade, together with Ministers or Ambassadors of the beneficiary countries.