- The European Union has stepped up its support to farmers hardest hit by the economical slowdown and high food prices, with a € 75 million ($105 million) donation.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) welcomed the grant yesterday, saying the EU fund will help poor countries boost agricultural production.
The FAO said the aid package will be employed in13 countries in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Central America, that are severely affected by high food prices, and will provide additional backing to the UN's efforts to turn the tide of growing hunger in the world. The package follows a historic €125 million ($170 million) donation from the European Union just one month ago.
"Europe's help comes at a critical moment," said José Maria Sumpsi, FAO's Assistant Director-General of the Technical Cooperation Department. "One out of six persons on this planet is undernourished - more than ever before. Poor countries need all the assistance possible. We are grateful for Europe's unequivocal support," he said.
He noted that high and volatile food prices continue to plague developing countries and that hunger is on the rise even more because of the global economic crisis, causing lower income and increasing unemployment in developing countries.
In order to provide a rapid response to high food prices in developing countries, a €1 billion ‘Food Facility' has been adopted by the European Parliament and Council. In line with FAO's urgent call for increased investment in agriculture after decades of neglect, the Food Facility underscores the need to refocus the world's attention on farming.
"For all developing countries, a healthy agricultural sector is vital to overcome poverty and hunger," said Roberto Ridolfi, heading the EU Food Facility, who praised the role of the UN Secretary-General's High-Level Task Force on the Global Food Security Crisis and FAO in jointly identifying and developing programmes that will have a quick, but lasting impact on food security.
"The Food Facility highlights our successful partnership with FAO," he said, adding, "Its results will testify to our shared commitment to the plight of those are daily struggling in order to provide a meal to their families."
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