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16.10.2008 General News

FOA earmarks US$ 28 million for poor countries

By gna

Accra, Oct. 16, GNA - The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) has earmarked US$28 million to support 40 African countries including Ghana to enable them to carry out short-term measures to deal with the impact
of world food and energy crisis.

Ms. Maria Helena Semedo, FOA Representative in Ghana made the announcement at a flag hoisting ceremony to mark this year's World Food Day (WFD) celebration in Accra, which was under the theme; "World Food Security:
the Challenges of Climate Change and Bio-energy".
The ceremony was jointly organised by the FOA, Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) and supported by the Amen, Amen Church in Ghana.

She underscored the need to create enabling frameworks for sustainable increase of direct foreign investment for agriculture in low-income, food-deficit countries as a measure for dealing with food and energy crisis in poor countries.

"FAO on its part has made available US$28 million to support 40 African countries, including Ghana to enable them to carry out short-term measures, particularly the distribution of essential farm inputs," she said.

Ms Semedo said, in Ghana, inputs and irrigation equipment were being supplied to vulnerable farmers for them to rapidly increase food production, adding that among all the countries receiving support, Ghana was high on the list of those poised to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by the 2015 deadline.

She said climate change affected poor countries more than any part of the world "and things will get worse", adding that, farmers and financial institutions in poor countries could collaborate and exploit the situation now and start making heavy investments into food production to safeguard their future.

Ms. Semedo noted that due to soaring world food and energy prices as a result of climate change and use of cereal for bio-fuel, the number of hungry people in the world had increased by 75 million over the last three years (2005 -2007).
"This crisis is also due to decreasing investments in agriculture particularly in the poorest countries during the last 30 years.
"The share of agriculture in public development aid declined from 17 per cent in 1980 to three per cent in 2006 and financial institutions drastically reduced their funds for agriculture," she said.

She therefore urged private financial institutions and governments of poor countries to reverse the trend and start investing heavily into food production now.
Ms. Semedo said it was estimated that by 2050 the world's population would be nine billion and 30 billion dollars would be needed everyday to produce enough food to feed everybody.
"Agriculture has to be able to double global food production by 2050 when the population of the globe will reach nine billion - investing into food production now is the only way we can ensure food security in the future," she said.

Mr. Ernest Debrah, Minister of Food and Agriculture in a speech read on his behalf said the day provided the opportunity to highlight the plight of 862 malnourished people in the world today, particularly in poor countries.
He noted that climate change, the main causal factor for the world food and energy crisis was close to Ghanaians, saying that the northern floods and the landslide within the Akwapim range were examples of the effects of climate change.
The minister said it would take a collective effort by all to stop destroying the environment, through the adoption of good farming methods, adding that farmers in Ghana should abide by the advice of MOFA extension officers and practice ethical methods.
"It is our goal as a government to improve food productivity in agriculture and attain an annual growth rate of about six per cent in conformity with the Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy II by 2015," he said.
Mr. Debrah appealed to the FAO and it collaborators to restore the TeleFood Programme and employ the services of musicians, footballers, celebrities and the media to campaign against hunger through concerts, sports events and fund-raisers.
"Proceeds from those activities could be used to support small-scale industries and farmers to increase food production," he said.
Solidarity speeches were read on behalf of the ministers of Fisheries and the Greater-Accra regional ministers, in which they both called for ethical industrial and domestic practices to save the environment and mitigate the effects of climate change.