FAO's Initiative on soaring Food Prices now covers 54 countries

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New Delhi, Jul 9 (UNI) The United Nations agency Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) has approved a series of projects in 48 countries for a total value of 21 million US dollar to help small farmers and vulnerable households mitigate negative effects of rising food and input prices.

The projects will provide farmers with agricultural inputs as of this month, for an expected duration of one year. Funded by the Technical Cooperation Programme - i.e. FAO's own resources - which are part of FAO's Initiative on Soaring Food Prices (ISFP).

With six countries already benefiting for a total amount of nearly 2.8 million dollar (Burkina Faso, Cate d'Ivoire, Haiti, Mauritania, Mozambique and Senegal), FAO's own funding under the ISFP now covers 54 countries.

The immediate objective of these projects is to ensure success of the next planting seasons and, in the long-term, demonstrate that by increasing the supply of key agricultural inputs, such as seeds and fertilisers, small farmers will be able to rapidly increase their food production.

Increased food production would help cushion small farmers, who often have to buy parts of their food from markets with rising food prices and would, hopefully, lead to a surplus production that could be sold, increasing their income and facilitating the access to food of the rural and urban population.

The provision of seeds, fertilisers and other agricultural inputs to small farmers is intended to encourage donors, financial institutions and national governments to support the provision of inputs on a much larger scale, according to FAO experts, who stress that their initiative is intended to produce a salutary catalytic effect that will encourage development partners to contribute to similar projects, but on a larger scale.

According to FAO, countries most affected, especially in Africa, will need at least a total of 1.7 billion dollar to start reviving agricultural systems that have been neglected for several decades.

and this amount is just for immediate and short-term measures during 2008-2009.

The unprecedented hike in food prices, which rose 52 per cent between 2007 and 2008, has had severe economic, social and political consequences in poor countries. And high prices of agricultural inputs have become a major obstacle to developing countries' efforts to increase agricultural production, according to an FAO release received here today.

For the period January 2007 to April 2008, fertiliser prices in particular shot up at a much faster rate than food prices.

Anticipating the widespread impact and grave nature of soaring food prices, in December 2007, FAO launched its ISFP to help vulnerable countries put in place urgent measures to boost food supplies by ensuring the success of their agricultural campaigns, and to provide policy support improve access to food.

UNI BBS PY RN1824

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