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Brussels, 15 June 2010

First results of the EU 1 bn Food Facility: launch of the Food Facility Auction Floor

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.

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