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FAO, WFP Launch International Global Food Security Platform To Improve Coordination

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Program (WFP) “have launched a new global food security platform” aimed at improving food security response coordination during natural disasters and other humanitarian situations, PTI/MSN India reports (4/17).

“The Food Security Cluster – led by the two organizations – is based in Rome. Its work is spearheaded by a small global unit led by Graham Farmer, the newly appointed Global Cluster Coordinator. The global support team includes FAO, WFP, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and other humanitarian organizations,” according to an FAO press release.

The new platform will provide international support for existing food security clusters that already operate in more than 25 countries. The Humanitarian Aid department of the European Commission “has provided generous support to ensure the Food Security Cluster’s start-up and first year of operations, according to the release. The platform received additional funding from the U.K. Department for International Development and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland (4/15).

Food Security Discussed At World Bank/IMF Meetings

Meanwhile a panel of experts examined the issue of global high food prices at the World Bank and International Monetary Fund spring meetings taking place in Washington, D.C., VOA News reports.

“World Bank sustainable development expert Inger Anderson said small farmers are at the center of the hunger problem. … Lindiwe Majele Sibanda with the African policy analysis group FANRPAN says small farmers face a range of challenges, especially in Africa,” the news service reports.

“We are using seeds that are not best-placed to produce the best. The soil management practices are not applied. … Ninety-five percent of our agriculture is rain-fed – which means in bad years you can harvest nothing,” Sibanda noted.

The panel also discussed how governments can improve food security (Baragona, 4/16).

With food prices high, Samuel Worthington, the president and CEO of InterAction, said the “largest alliance of U.S.-based international NGOs doing relief and humanitarian work abroad” is urging governments to follow through on previous food security pledges, AlertNet reports. “The current spike in food prices has made it all the more urgent for leaders to follow through on their promises to deal with this food crisis head-on. It is not enough to make pledges at international summits,” he said.

Worthington also highlighted the roles NGOs are playing in the World Bank’s Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP). “Civil society representation on the GAFSP is a real step forward, though more must be done to ensure that local civil society participation is there too. Local expertise would strengthen this program,” he said (4/14).

In related news, Treasury Undersecretary Lael Brainard said the U.S. is poised to contribute $100 million to the GAFSP now that Congress has approved the FY11 budget, Bloomberg reports. “We are confident that this contribution will unlock new funds from other G20 development partners so that the fund can extend additional grant awards to some of the 20 African countries that have submitted proposals,” Brainard said in prepared remarks at the World Bank/IMF meeting (Christie, 4/15).

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