WFP declares Africa agricultural investment forum a turning point
DAKAR, Sénégal, June 18, 2010/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today congratulated the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and West African governments on a successful forum on the financing of regional and national agricultural investment plans. WFP said the high-level gathering was a sign of governments’ strong commitment, leadership and vision with regard to reducing hunger and poverty in the region, and was pleased that the investment plans presented prioritize nutrition and access to food for the most vulnerable.
WFP Deputy Executive Director Sheila Sisulu and West Africa Deputy Regional Director Claude Jibidar joined top officials from ECOWAS, twelve member states– Ghana, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo, the Gambia, Guinea, Benin, Niger and Cape Verde– and humanitarian partner organizations in the four-day forum.
Ms Sisulu said it marked a milestone along the path to lasting hunger solutions. “Less than two years ago, the region faced a ‘perfect storm’ of high food and fuel prices spreading hunger, malnutrition and misery across the continent,” she said. “This week’s forum marks a critical turning point and a ‘perfect opportunity’ to align the policies and donor resources behind national priorities.”
The meeting was part of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), an Africa-owned and led initiative to boost agricultural productivity. Reducing hunger is a key CAADP pillar and can be a powerful driver of economic growth; in many countries, undernutrition is the root cause of a 2-3 percent loss of GDP.
The agricultural investment plans presented during the forum covered a comprehensive range of actions designed to combat hunger and malnutrition – from increasing the availability of food to promoting effective and sustainable access and use.
Existing programmes supported by WFP across West Africa demonstrate that nutrition and social protection can offer a vital boost to economic opportunity and food security. These programmes include innovative food-for-work and food-for-training projects giving poor farmers the skills, tools and resources they need to feed themselves, their families and their communities. Home-grown school feeding initiatives combine efforts to increase access to education with access to markets for small farmers.
In addition, through its Purchase for Progress initiative (P4P), WFP promotes the development of agricultural markets in such a way that smallholder farmers—of which the majority are women—can produce food surpluses and sell them at fair prices to various markets including WFP operations, creating a win-win situation. In 2009, WFP bought food from around the world valued at US$965 million. Of that amount, 80 percent was used to purchase food from developing countries.
As a longstanding partner in African development and CAADP supporter, WFP pledged its continuing support and expertise as governments continue to strengthen, refine and deploy national food security and agriculture investment plans.
World Food Program (WFP)