Sunday, September 6, 2009

EU Provides US$16 Million to Improve Food Security

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

The European Union (EU) has provided 11.2 million euros equivalent to US$15.7 millions for Cambodian Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MoAFF) through the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to improve food security for the rural population in Cambodia.
50,000 families will benefit directly from this project. They will receive training on enhancing their production techniques for the harvest of divers’ agricultural products. The FAO will also import fertilizers, seeds and other farming tools to boost revenue from the farmland. “We expect that this project will positively influence 620 villages with 99,820 families in nine target provinces. The content of this project implementation plays a key role in dealing with the negative impacts of the instable food market that can be witnessed in Cambodia every day,” said Chan Sarun, Minister of MoAFF.

Rafael Dachao Moreno, EU Charge’d’ Affaires of the European Commission Delegation to Cambodia, said that the decrease of food prices in 2007 and 2008 has put numerous developing countries and their populations in a dramatic situation. This food crisis, accompanied by a financial and energy crisis and environmental deterioration, risks putting additional hundreds of millions of people in extreme poverty, and in circumstances of hunger and malnutrition. He called on all nations for increased solidarity with those populations.

The agreement for the project, which is called “Improve Food Security of Farming Families Affected by the Volatile Food Prices” was signed in Phnom Penh on September 2 by Chan Sarun, MAFF’s Minister and Rafael Dachao Moreno, EU Charge’d’ Affaires a. i. of the European Commission Delegation to Cambodia, and Ajay Markanday, FAO Representative to Cambodia.
The Minister Chan Sarun said “I am very proud of the cooperation and the support the FAO provides in response to the needs and concerted efforts of the Cambodian government with assistance of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries it will enhance productivity and agriculture diversification, and improve product quality and food security for people in Cambodia. All relevant units under the supervision of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries shall make certain commitments and improve close relationships with cooperation partners in order to achieve the expected goals.”

The three-year project, which started in May will run to June 2011. The Minister stated during the signing ceremony that he was optimistic about resolving the food problem. The project combined with the efforts of the Royal Government of Cambodia will enhance the food security and reduce the influence or adverse impact of fluctuating food prices for some of the most vulnerable people. “I strongly believe that this project will be crucial in implementing modern agricultural technologies. The support of the EU is a major contribution to the energetic efforts of the Royal Government of Cambodia to ensure that continues growth and employment for all Cambodians is archived,” he said.

Ajay Markanday, FAO Representative to Cambodia, said that last year after the decades of stables and even low food prices, the world experienced a very rapid increase in agricultural commodity prices, especially cereals. This was triggered by a combination of factors which determined both the international supply and demand of commodities. Foremost among these factors are reductions in supplies due to adverse weather in major exporting countries, severely depleted global food stock, high energy prices and the growing diversion of agriculture commodities for bio-fuels. “The EU Food Facility, which made an additional one billion euros available for agriculture and food security in developing countries, shows that the European Union is committed to the global food security situation. It’s a clear indication that the European Union, even in times of severe economic difficulties, remains strongly committed to poverty reduction in developing countries,” said Rafael Dacho.

He added that the increased EU support underlined the importance of the European Union in improving the food security across the globe. He further stated that the FAO believes that the assistance will come at a most opportune moment. The unfolding global financing crisis and economic slowdown have decreased the availability of capital at a time when accelerated investment in agriculture is urgently needed. Against the background of the global economic recession, world hunger and malnutrition are likely to get worse in the next months. “We need to counter that trend by all means possible,” he added.

The Minister said this relief support to alleviate the burdens on farmers shall be partly reserved for immediate assistance for communities who are struck by natural disasters as droughts or floods.


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