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April 15, 2009

Belgium and FAO link to help African farmers

Belgium has agreed to a $6.6 million programme for FAO to provide emergency assistance to poor farmers in Africa as part of an ongoing partnership that has totalled more than $80 million over the past twelve years.

Around $ 2.6 million of the latest contribution from the Belgian Development Cooperation will go to directly support farming households whose livelihoods have suffered from the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Cassava and sweet potatoes cuttings as well as hand tools, vegetable and other crop seeds will be distributed to 25,000 farmers. In addition, another 4,000 small farmers will receive backing to increase maize production in order to meet market demand. Producer associations will be given basic training in the use of machinery and how to repair warehouses and roads to enable harvested produce to be stored and transported away.

This part of the project will be implemented jointly with a World Food Programme “Purchase for Progress (P4P)”, also funded by Belgium. WFP supports local farmers by buying their products which is then distributed as food assistance to hungry people.

The Belgian donation to FAO will also assist returning ex-soldiers and farming households hit by floods and high food prices in neighbouring Burundi. They are to benefit from a $2 million programme that will help them return to farming. The rest of Belgium’s donation will go to support farmers in drought-stricken Niger and Ethiopia.

“Belgium is one of the most consistently supportive donors to FAO’s emergency work, something which is very much appreciated and its latest show of generous support will help improve the livelihood and food security of thousands of vulnerable people” said Laurent Thomas, Director of FAO’s Emergency Operations and Rehabilition Division.

Belgium has also recently contributed $900 000 to the FAO’s Special Fund for Emergency and Rehabilitation Activities which allows the agency to act swiftly in emergency situations. Since 1997, Belgium has financed more than 105 emergency and rehabilitation projects in over 20 disaster affected countries.


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