Africa to benefit from Brazil-FAO school meals experience

Brazil’s investments in South-South Cooperation through FAO have surpassed $36 million

16 August 2013, Brasilia/Rome - The Brazilian experience of strengthening school meal programs and their relationship with family farming will be brought to Africa. This is just one of the 17 South-South Cooperation projects that the government of Brazil and FAO are implementing together, with a total investment surpasssing $36 million.

During his visit to Brazil last week, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva signed the project "Strengthening School Feeding Programs in African Countries," in partnership with the National Fund for the Development of Education (FNDE, in Portuguese) of the Ministry of Education and the Brazilian Agency of Cooperation (ABC) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). The $2 million project that will share experiences and promote technical cooperation related to school feeding programs and how their linkages with family farming can boost local economic development. Activities on the ground in Africa will be adapted to local needs and realities.

This initiative will source school meal programs to local family farms, creating synergies that strengthen food security, child nutrition and the livlihoods of small farmers and their communities. 

"I believe that the relationship between school feeding programs and family agriculture can make an important contribution to food security and complement other efforts that are already underway, such as the Food Acquisition Program for Africa," said Graziano da Silva. The PAA Africa Programme (Puchase from Africans for Africa) is an FAO-Brazil initiative undertaken in partnership with the World Food Programme (WFP) and the UK's Department for International Development (DFID) and inspired by the Brazilian Food Purchase Programme (PAA, in Portuguese).

These activities are in line with the strategic guidelines laid down in the July 2013 declaration of African leaders at close of the High Level Meeting "Toward African Renaissance: Renewed Partnership for unified approach to end hunger in Africa by 2025."

"We recognize that FAO cannot end hunger in Africa alone, nor can any single African county; we need partnerships. Together, we can eradicate hunger," said the FAO Director-General. 

Projects similar to those that will be implemented in Africa are already being successfully undertaken in Latin America and the Caribbean. 

The FAO project "Strengthening School Meal Programs under the Hunger Free Latin America and the Caribbean 2025 Initiative" is currently underway in 11 countries and has the potential to improve the food security of more than 19 million people by strengthening school nutrition programs and linking them with policies and programs that promote family farming.

"This solution is a triple winner: it ensures quality food for public school students, opens new markets, and introduces the possibility of higher incomes for family farmers while boosting development in rural areas," said Graziano da Silva.

"The most important aspect of this cooperation is to know that Brazil is recognized as a global benchmark in the field of school meals. Our work in terms of food security and family farmers have turned us into an example. This challenges us to ensure efficiency and to seek ways and means to do more and better, because we believe that people learn as they teach," said the president of Brazil's National Fund for the Development of Education, José Carlos Wanderley Dias de Freitas.

South-South Cooperation

Both the new Africa project as well as the existing Latin America project fall under the auspices of a 17-project initiative under the Brazil-FAO Program for International Cooperation, which is channeling more than $36 million in support of South-South Cooperation.

In addition to the school nutrition programs, projects under the FAO-Brazil Fund include activities that are part of the Hunger Free Latin America and the Caribbean 2025 Initiative; work to strengthen civil society on issues of family farming and access to renewable natural resources; consolidation of the Aquaculture Network of the Americas (RAA); support to national and sub-regional strategies for food security and nutrition; strengthening of agro-environmental policies in Latin America and the Caribbean; and post-emergency assistance actions in El Salvador, Guatemala and Haiti.

Social technologies

Graziano da Silva also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Bank of Brazil Foundation which aims to strengthen ties between both organizations in order to promote the exchange of experiences and knowledge related to agri-food supply in Brazil. Besides the development of joint programs and projects, the agreement also includes the promotion of the International Year of Family Farming, to be celebrated during 2014.

"The partnership between FAO and the Bank of Brazil Foundation will help pay historical debts with cooperation," said the Minister of the Secretariat General of the Presidency Gilberto Carvalho during the signing ceremony. The president of the Bank of Brazil Foundation, George Streit, said that the partnership with FAO enables the sharing of social technologies with other countries. "Brazil has made a successful social transition and is an example for other countries," said Director-General of FAO, José Graziano da Silva.

Photo: ©FAO/
FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva together with Gilberto Carvalho, Secretary General to the Presidency of Brazil.