Food Security & Sustainability: the EU € 1 billion Food Facility

[tweetmeme http://www.URL.com%5D Brussels, 15 June 2010.  With more than € 500 million already disbursed and 97 % of funds committed after only one year and a half from its adoption, the € 1 billion EU Food Facility has provided a fast and efficient response in tackling food insecurity. The Commission present today a booklet on the use of the Food Facility. It shows that around 50 million people all over the world are receiving support from the facility and results are starting to show. Faced with an impressive number of high–quality proposals but a limited budget, the European Commission is calling on other donors to help funding projects under the newly launched “Food Facility Auction Floor”.

“People struggling with hunger nowadays is unacceptable. Through the EU Food Facility, Europe has been able to provide a rapid and efficient response to the food crisis faced by developing countries. The Commission delivered on its promises, ensuring a high impact of the aid offered to countries in need. We are reaching over 50 million people, including many small-holder farmers, and this will increase.” said Andris Piebalgs, EU Commissioner for Development.

Following the high global food prices in 2008, the € 1 billion Food Facility was approved in December 2008 as a rapid EU reaction instrument to address food insecurity in 50 developing countries.

A long lasting and efficient commitment

The European Commission has now committed 97% of the funding available under the facility and the remaining fund will be soon committed. The last Financing Decision was adopted in April 2010 for a total value of € 145.3 million.

The speed with which the Facility is being implemented has been achieved thanks to the use of existing financing channels, and the excellent cooperation with all the agencies and governments involved. The steering role of the European Commission has been a key factor for successful collaboration between the International Organisations involved, without having to create new bureaucracies or vertical trust funds.

Background

The € 1 billion EU Food Facility provides for funding to improve access to agricultural inputs; sustain safety-net programmes to the most vulnerable population and support microcredit, investment, equipment, infrastructure and training.

The Food Facility is a rapid response instrument and the delivery channels were chosen with this in mind. Most funds are channelled through the International Organisations in the UN High Level Task Force on Soaring Food Prices. These organisations have existing frameworks for policy dialogue and assistance in place that can be easily supported and scaled up. In addition, funds have been provided to more than 222 projects implemented by Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) following a competitive Call for Proposals, and to a number of national Governments in the form of budget support in order to address the effects of the high food prices in their countries.

Concrete results on the ground

Actions on the ground started in 2009 and results are staring to show in many of the 50 target countries.

In Pakistan, farmers have been growing less over the past two years because the costs of seeds and fertilizers have shot up, while food prices also increased due to dry weather conditions. This year, farmers have managed to put a stop to the downward spiral thanks to assistance from a joint EU, WFP and FAO project under the EU Food Facility. Instead of going into debt, 23,000 Pakistan farmers received 400 kg of wheat from the WFP to last them through the lean season before harvest.

That enabled them to buy seeds, fertilizers and water pumps that growers used to plant a bumper crop. In irrigated areas the production has almost doubled because of the quality inputs received. Bakhtawar Mai, a smallholder farmer involved in the project finally grew enough food to feed her family. “My harvest was excellent this year. I produced almost twice as much wheat as I did the year before,” Bakhtawar Mai says. While WFP is providing food assistance, FAO helps small-scale farmers increase their production – last year close to 100,000 of the Pakistan farmers received agricultural inputs. The overarching aim is to making more food available for over 1 million of the country’s most vulnerable.

In Niger, the EU and UNICEF started a partnership in 2009 for the treatment of 65,000 severely malnourished children under-five years old in therapeutic feeding centres via the Food Facility. On top of that, an additional contribution to UNICEF of € 5 million has been recently signed to stop the escalating nutrition crisis by addressing the country’s food scarcity and nutritional problems, targeting the most vulnerable children.

In Guatemala, a Food facility project in partnership with FAO allowed 14,000 smallholders farmers’ families have received fertilizer; “This is a great help to families living in extreme poverty and have no money to buy fertilizer,” says Beteta Arnulfo, a farmer who lives with his wife and three children in the community of Mines, Department Quiché. Now they will produce more maize, which represents a better income and an increase in stocks for consumption.

In Lesotho, soaring food prices and the recent global economic downturn struck hard, especially the majority of its 1.9 million people who rely on agriculture. The EU and FAO are assisting over 36 000 farmers, more than half of its vulnerable farmers and 22 000 beneficiaries already received 715 tonnes of seeds. This assistance will lead to 10-18 000 additional tonnes of crops harvested, a substantial boost in a country where the total cereal production was 86 000 tonnes in 2009.

Food Facility Auction Floor

Within the Food Facility, a Call for Proposals launched in 2009 received an overwhelming response, with an impressive number of high–quality proposals. As a consequence, although the present Call for Proposals amounted to approximately € 218 million, with 222 projects funded by the EU, many more highly-rated proposals could not receive funding from the European Commission due to budget limitations. That is why the European Commission produced a booklet presenting the best 84 ready-to-go high-quality projects to facilitate matches between investors and project developers. Interested investors and donors are free to contact the organisations for additional information on the projects, to discuss potential contributions and possibly adapt the projects to their needs.  With this auction floor, the European Commission aims to increase cost effectiveness, coherence and coordination in line with the Accra Agenda, by giving access to ready-to-fund projects. This is an opportunity to respond to the commitments made in the G8 summit of L’Aquila one year ago to mobilise aid towards food security and agriculture.

Food Security

Addressing food security remains an issue that is high on the development agenda of the European Commission. On 31 March 2010, the European Commission adopted the Communication ‘An EU policy framework to assist developing countries in addressing food security challenges’, which sets out the policy priorities for the years to come in order to move forward in achieving the international agreed target of halving by 2015 the proportion who suffer from hunger in the world.

Further information on the EU Food Facility:

New booklet “The Food Facility – A rapid response from the European Union:

http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/infopoint/publications/europeaid/documents/184a_foodfacility_en.pdf

Video clip on the EU Food Facility:

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xdlh9c_eu-food-facility-en_news

More information on EC policies and strategies on food security:

http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/how/finance/food-facility_en.htm

http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/what/food-security/index_en.htm

http://ec.europa.eu/development/icenter/repository/COMM_PDF_COM_2010_0127_EN.PDF

Food Facility Auction Floor booklet:

http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/infopoint/publications/europeaid/documents/185a_foodfacility_auction_floor_en.pdf

IP on the Communication ‘An EU policy framework to assist developing countries in addressing food security challenges’:

IP/10/404

Citation:  Press Release of the European Commission IP/10/734 and Memorandum of the European Commission MEMO/10/260

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