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FAO, IFAD and WFP reach 22 million people with massive EU investment in agriculture

UN food agencies hail European Union Food Facility’s impact on global food security

2 December 2011, Rome -  In just two years FAO, IFAD and WFP have assisted over 22 million people hardest hit by the global food price crisis thanks to generous funding from the European Union's Food Facility (EUFF) — providing tangible evidence that investing in agriculture and nutrition improves global food security, the three UN agencies said today.

The combined effects of high food prices in 2007-2008 and the global financial and economic downturn pushed millions of people into poverty and hunger. By the end of 2008, when the number of undernourished people neared one billion, the European Union launched the € 1 billion Food Facility.

Set up in close collaboration with the UN's High-Level Task Force on the Global Food Security Crisis, the EUFF channelled some € 368 million through FAO, IFAD and WFP to bridge the gap between short-term emergency needs and longer-term development by boosting agricultural production and productivity in countries hardest hit by the crises.

In providing quality seed and fertilizers, improving and building infrastructure and reducing the impact of natural calamities, the three agencies have helped to improve the food security and nutrition of an estimated 22 million of the most vulnerable people in 35 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

By linking farmers to markets and financial services, assisting in facilitating sustainable and profitable farming practices and creating new revenue streams, the effects of the EUFF will continue into their futures.

Back on track

For FAO, the EUFF funding of € 232 million represented the single largest donation from the European Union. It enabled the organization to carry out 31 operations in 28 countries, reaching some 15 million people in rural areas of Africa, Asia and Latin America.

"In establishing the EUFF, the European Union sent a strong message to both developed and developing countries that it was time to join forces and get agriculture, a sector suffering from decades of underinvestment, back on track in the fight against poverty and hunger," said FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf.

Through EUFF funding amounting to € 52 million, IFAD has increased the long-term access to food and the food security of over 500 000 households in 11 countries throughout Asia and Africa.

"The European Union Food Facility has been an important instrument to respond to volatile food prices and the economic crisis," said Kevin Cleaver, IFAD Associate Vice-President, Programmes. "Together with our regional partners, we supported smallholder farmers by strengthening their access to financial services and national and local markets."

Between 2009 and 2011, nearly 5 million people in 10 countries improved their food security thanks to programmes implemented by WFP and its partners, supported by nearly € 84 million of EUFF assistance. 

"The EU Food facility has been a tremendous success. It proves that linking relief, rehabilitation and development can have a concrete impact on people's food security," said Amir Abdulla, WFP Deputy Executive Director. "We are ready to continue working with the EU on longer-term sustainable activities to help the poorest farmers to market their crops and improve the nutritional status of their families." 

Reducing hunger

As food prices are expected to remain high and volatile in the coming years, it is essential to maintain the momentum created by the EUFF in promoting agriculture as the most effective means of reducing global hunger and poverty.

Lessons learned from the initiative underscore the importance of focusing on marginalized farmers with high production potential, combining input distribution with extension services, building capacities of smallholder farmers and their communities, rehabilitating rural infrastructures and involving all actors of the value chain in local seed production.

It is crucial to build on these lessons and step up efforts to enable the world's most vulnerable people to withstand future shocks and produce the food they need to live active and healthy lives.

Photo: ©FAO/Paballo Thekiso
The effects of the EU Food Facility will continue into farmers’ futures.

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