15 May 2009, Brussels/Rome - Europe remains firmly committed to help poor countries boost agricultural production, FAO said today, welcoming a historic €106 million ($144 million) donation from the European Union in support of farmers hardest hit by the global food crisis.
The signing today in Brussels of an assistance package to ten countries in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean who suffered most from the 2007-2008 food price crisis is a major boost to efforts to turn the tide of worsening food security, expected to deteriorate even further this year as the financial and economic crisis deepens in developing countries.
"This is the biggest agreement ever signed between the EC and FAO," said FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf. "We are extremely pleased that in these times of turmoil, Europe shows an unwavering commitment to the plight of around one billion people who go to bed hungry every night." Diouf added that even though international food commodity prices have gone down recently, high and volatile food prices continue to plague developing countries.
Getting agriculture back on its feet
The aid package is part of the EU's €1 billion response to the food crisis, dubbed the ‘Food Facility'. As the economic crisis is pushing more people into hunger and poverty, it sends the urgent message that the time has come to get agriculture back on its feet, responding to FAO's calls for increased investment in agriculture after three decades of decline.
"The Food Facility is the result of extraordinary collaboration between the European Commission and the UN Secretary-General's High-Level Task Force on the Global Food Security Crisis, where FAO played an important role, to identify and develop programmes that will have a quick, but lasting impact on food security," said José Maria Sumpsi, FAO's Assistant Director-General for Technical Cooperation.
He added that it is also an enormous stimulus to FAO's efforts in dealing with the impact of high food prices in developing countries.
FAO is currently engaged in over 90 countries, in most cases supporting food production through the supply of improved seeds, fertilizers, other agricultural inputs and technical assistance of around $350 million in 2008. Nearly seven million smallholder farmers and their 35 million dependents — the majority women and children — benefited directly from this support.
Facts on projects in targeted countries
- Afghanistan: support to seed industry and seed production;
- Central African Republic: seed multiplication, conservation agriculture, reintegration of ex-combatants in the agricultural sector, opening of 80 input shops;
- Democratic Republic of the Congo: seed distribution, rehabilitation of agricultural assets, support to farmer organizations, food security information;
- Guinea Bissau: provision of agricultural inputs, lay-out of 300 school gardens, rehabilitation of agricultural infrastructure;
- Haiti: natural resource management and water storage, diversification and intensification of agriculture, aquaculture/fishing;
- Liberia: joint programme with UN partners, capacity building of extension agents and farmers, agricultural input supply, school gardens;
- Mozambique: quality seed production and distribution; establishment of seed production plant;
- Pakistan: seed distribution, small-scale irrigation and water harvesting, agricultural implements/machinery for 100 farmer associations, farmer training;
- Sierra Leone: establishment of 100 agribusiness centres;
- Zimbabwe: provision of agricultural inputs to 150 000 vulnerable farming families.