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On World Food Day, WFP emphasizes commitment to supporting the most vulnerable

On World Food Day, WFP emphasizes commitment to supporting the most vulnerable

Freetown – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) honours World Food Day (16 October) by reaffirming its dedication to work with communities, civil society, governments and the private sector to end hunger in our lifetimes.

Over the last year, communities on almost every continent have felt the devastating impacts of high food prices, natural disasters, climate emergencies and conflict, which have exacerbated hunger and poverty. Fortunately, working with partners across the globe WFP’s food assistance has brought hope and relief to millions.

“WFP faces many challenges as we work to ensure that the hungry poor receive the right food at the right time,” said WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin. “From the Sahel region stricken by the third drought in recent years, to unrest in the Middle East, to communities whose imported staple foods have become inaccessibly expensive, WFP delivers life-saving food assistance where it is needed most.”

In 2011, WFP reached almost 100 million people in 75 countries, including over 11 million children who received special nutritional support and 23 million children who received school meals or take-home rations.

“WFP Sierra Leone continues to work closely with the Government on social and productive safety nets in support of the Agenda for Change and recognizes that supporting programmes increasingly owned and managed by the Government, is a sustainable move towards national development,” said WFP Country Representative, William Hart.

The theme of this year’s World Food Day is “Agricultural cooperatives—key to feeding the world.”  WFP through the European Union funded  component 5 of the Smallholder Commercialization Programme, works with Agricultural Business Centres  and farmers organizations  providing food for work, cash for work and food for training for  infrastructure projects such as the rehabilitation of inland valley swamps, regeneration of coffee and cocoa plantations, and repair of feeder roads . WFP in many countries around the world,  continues to provide training to small holder farmers to help them improve crop quality, strengthen business practices and increase access to markets. In Sierra Leone for example, partnership with the Government, small holder farmers and supply-side partners under the Purchase for Progress (P4P) initiative has helped to connect farmers to markets and enhanced agricultural production. In 2010/2011 some 2,000 smallholder farmers were empowered to sell 340 metric tons of high quality rice directly to WFP. The purchased rice was distributed to over 200 primary schools under the WFP-assisted school feeding programme. In 2012, contracts have been signed with 19 farmers’ organizations for the supply of 500 mt of milled rice and 30 mt of gari. Some 207 mt of milled rice has been collected so far from 17 suppliers.

WFP celebrates World Food Day along with its sister UN food agencies, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). The three Rome-based agencies often work closely together to invest in and boost the production of smallholder farmers and increase people’s access to nutritious food.

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