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European Commission

UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)


Brussels, 9 April 2014

10 years of EU and FAO joint work on agriculture and food security

  1. The European Union and the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have had a steadfast and generous partnership in promoting sustainable rural development to improve the lives of the poor for over ten years.

  2. The EU is the biggest donor to the FAO, contributing US$1.2 billion to FAO’s field programme from 2008-2013.

  3. New projects signed between the EU and FAO in 2013 alone amounted to nearly US$ 200 million, of which 87% are funded through the EU’s delegations.

  4. The partnership has been instrumental in helping the two organisations achieve maximum impact with their work; working together on the ground in developing countries worldwide, improving food security in emergencies, employing research to foster food safety and quality, and sharing know-how and involving partners in policy-making.

  5. The European Community became a member of FAO in 1991. Since 1993 arrangements have been in place concerning technical cooperation between the two institutions. Following years of close collaboration, in 2004 the European Commission and FAO became strategic partners.

  6. In 2011, the European Commission, FAO, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP) signed a Strategic Framework of Cooperation to increase the capacity of the international community to deliver effective, coordinated, timely and sustainable support to food security and nutrition.

  1. The Partnership has strengthened both organisations in their work to achieve their shared goal of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger and contribute to the achievement of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), particularly MGD 1 of reducing by half the proportion of people suffering from hunger by 2015.

  2. In terms of geographical distribution, about 40% of FAO EU projects are executed in Africa, followed by Asia (18%), the Near East (11 %) and Latin America (8%).The rest goes to Europe (7%), and Interregional cooperation (15%).

Food Facility – a joint response to rising food prices

Cooperation between FAO and the EU reached a peak with the €1 billion EU Food Facility; the EU’s quick and massive response to rising food prices, set up in 2008.

A report published in 2013 on the Food Facility showed that in three years, it had improved the lives of over 59 million people in 49 countries, and provided indirect support for 93 million others (by for instance enabling people to benefit from increased opportunities for trade in the area, and to learn improved skills from neighbouring farmers). The report also showed that the €1 billion facility has led to the vaccination of over 44.6 million livestock, and helped to train 1.5 million people in agricultural production.

The Food Facility aimed to increase agricultural production in 49 of the world's poorest countries by encouraging producers to increase supply, helping them to deal with the impact of volatile food prices on local communities and increasing farmers' ability to produce food, as well as improve the way that agriculture is managed.

Two thirds of the 232 projects which received funding from the Food Facility were based on agricultural production or providing access to agricultural materials (like seeds and fertiliser). Statistics show that projects involved have seen an average 50% increase in production.

Over €600 million of the €1Bn Food Facility was channelled through eight UN agencies and the World Bank, €284 million of which have been managed by the FAO, allowing it to carry out 31 operations in 28 countries.

In June 2013 the EU received the first ever Jacques Diouf Award from the FAO, in recognition of its pioneering work on the EU Food Facility. José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, accepted the award on behalf of the EU at a ceremony in the 38th FAO Conference in Rome.

Global Governance for Hunger Reduction programme – €30 million

The Global Governance For Hunger Reduction programme contributes to concretely improving the way in which the global community works together to eradicate hunger and malnutrition, as well as to improve food security governance at global, regional and national levels. The proposed Action will seek and promote close collaboration between selected projects, programmes and processes supported by FAO and the EU with other partners, as well as reinforce collaboration between the FAO, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP).

Global governance in food security relies heavily on an effective Committee of Food Security (CFS) and this programme has ensured that both stakeholders and experts are involved in the process, in coordination with other relevant bodies such as the Standing Committee on Nutrition.

Partnership on the ground: Agriculture in Zambia

In March 2014, the FAO and the EU, in partnership with the Zambian Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, launched the Conservation Agriculture Scaling Up (CASU) project which aims to reduce hunger, improve food security, nutrition and income while promoting the sustainable use of natural resources in Zambia. The agricultural production of smallholder farmers in Zambia, has, in the past, been affected by soil degradation, high costs of materials, poor produce markets and poor farming practices. This project will contribute to government efforts to increase crop production and productivity for small and medium scale farmers in Zambia by using ‘Conservation Agriculture’, which is based on three principles: minimal soil disturbance, permanent soil cover and crop rotation in order to minimise damage to the environment. Conservation agriculture saves labour, makes efficient use of agricultural inputs (such as seeds and fertilisers), produces higher yields and is better for the environment. It also makes crops more resilient against drought and prevents soil erosion. This four year project (2013 – 2017), at a total cost of €11 million, is implemented in 31 districts across 9 provinces in Zambia.

The project will benefit a total of 21,000 Lead Farmers, (who train the other farmers,) and an additional 315,000 Follower Farmers (who learn from the Lead Farmers), of which at least 40% should be women.

Partneship on the ground: Climate Smart Agriculture in Malawi, Vietnam and Zambia

Climate change and food security are two of the most pressing challenges of our time, and cannot be tackled in isolation from each other.

In 2012, the European Union and EPIC (the FAO’s Economics and Policy Innovations for Climate-Smart Agriculture programme) launched Climate-Smart Agriculture in Malawi, Vietnam and Zambia.

The idea behind the project is to look at the connection between climate change and food security and then work with governments, local institutions and universities to provide a ‘Climate Smart Approach’ in response; supporting activities ranging from research to policy support and investment proposals For example, the project has studied Conservation Agriculture, which can, potentially, increase productivity through better soils and help farmers adapt to climate change through better water retention. It also can help mitigate climate change by trapping carbon in the soil.

In particular, the project helps to support the countries of Malawi, Vietnam and Zambia to secure the necessary policy, technical and financial conditions to enable them to sustainably increase agricultural productivity and income, as well as to build both resilience and the ability of agricultural and food systems to adapt to the effects of climate change. It also enables them to seek opportunities to reduce and remove Green House Gases in order to meet their national food security and development goals.

Partnership on the ground: Giving farmers the right tools in Niger

A five year, €6 million multi-donor initiative to intensify agriculture in Niger has achieved increases in production of up to 100 percent in over half of Niger's farmer villages.

Since September 2008, the Ministry of Agriculture, the FAO and EU have been supporting the intensification of agriculture by strengthening a network of cooperative shops providing inputs (such as fertilisers, seeds, equipment, etc.) with €6 million in support under a programme known as IARBIC.

Through this vast network, well-priced and good quality agricultural inputs, ordered by the farmers’ organisations, are reaching over half of the agricultural villages in Niger, where average yield increases of 100 percent for sorghum and 81 percent for millet have now been recorded. In addition, IARBIC has provided a wide range of skills to farmers, ranging from full agricultural training, to management and accounting for a farmer organisation or a business, such as an input shop.

Good practices developed by this programme have been included in Niger's new hunger reduction strategy, "Nigeriens Nourish Nigeriens" (3N), such as the shops run by farmer organisations and improved access to financial and advisory services.

For more information

EU and FAO’s partnership:

Food Facility:

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