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25/06/2010

Five countries to receive over US$200 million to fight poverty and hunger

Agriculture and food security funding mechanism issues first grants

Bangladesh, Haiti, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Togo are set to receive grants totalling US$224 million from the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP) – a World Bank-managed financial pass-through mechanism designed to reduce poverty and hunger in low-income countries. FAO welcomes this first round of funding, which will help boost the food security and incomes of some of the world’s most vulnerable people. 

The GAFSP was set up earlier this year to funnel part of the more than US$20 billion pledged for investment in sustainable agricultural development and safety nets by G8 countries in L’Aquila last July.

Canada, the Republic of Korea, Spain, the United States and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation made initial commitments to the GAFSP worth US$880 million. 

For the past several months, FAO has been providing technical assistance to a number of countries, including several of the initial grantees, to develop sustainable, country-owned and led investment plans, which form a basis for submission of proposals to the GAFSP.

Projects are focused on boosting agricultural productivity through improved access to quality seeds, training and technical assistance, linking farmers to markets and services and strengthening farmers’ resilience to climate hazards and market shocks.

FAO has been granted US$3.7 million as a supervising entity for technical assistance in Bangladesh, which was allocated US$50 million in GAFSP funding to increase agricultural productivity and reduce the vulnerability of farmers to drought, floods and tidal waves.

Likewise, FAO will serve as supervising entity for technical assistance in Sierra Leone, which hopes to increase the commercialisation of agriculture and promote farming as a business among its country’s smallholder farmers.

With the number of malnourished people in the world topping one billion, more focused attention on country-led agricultural development is essential to stimulate economic growth and reduce the number of people living below the poverty line.

“This move represents a strong step forward for food security programmes that include both productive and social protection aspects,” said Kevin Gallagher, FAO Representative in Sierra Leone, a country that received US$50 million in GAFSP funding. “It also represents extensive collaboration among all partners including government, non-government, the private sector, donors and UN agencies.”

FAO continues to support several member countries in the development of country investment plans and subsequent submissions for the second round of GAFSP funding later this year.