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Africa Food & Nutrition Security Day Emphasizes Need For Stronger Food Systems To Reduce Hunger

The World Food Programme (WFP) is celebrating Africa Food and Nutrition Security Day by highlighting the importance of regional markets and local produce in increasing access to food at both national and household levels.

LUSAKA-- “WFP works with governments and communities across Africa to break the cycle of hunger that is so pervasive,” said WFP Deputy Executive Director Sheila Sisulu.

 “We’re helping to apply country-led hunger solutions while promoting growth and development. At the same time, we are providing life-saving assistance to those suffering from crises, such as the drought in the Horn of Africa or the post-election population displacement in Côte d’Ivoire.”

In 2010, WFP reached almost 46 million people in more than 40 countries in Africa. WFP’s assistance on the continent focuses on emergency relief, post-crisis recovery and longer-term programmes to reduce chronic hunger and malnutrition.

“Here in Zambia, WFP is trying to develop local markets by providing the demand for local production through our social safety net interventions,” said WFP Zambia Officer-in-Charge, Felix Edwards.  “We are trying to encourage smallholder farmers to diversify their crops and participate in the wider commercial market, as well as working with the Government to develop a rules-based, predictable and transparent market system that will help reduce volatility in the market.”

“Alongside the Government, we are also exploring ways for Zambia to capitalise on its surplus production through exporting to neighbouring counties,” said Edwards.

This year, the theme of the Africa Food and Nutrition Security Day is “Investing in Intra-African Trade for Food and Nutrition Security,” a crucial issue as commodity markets remain volatile. With global food prices expected to remain high, WFP is undertaking several initiatives to scale up social protection activities and to strengthen local and regional markets.

•    REGIONAL PROCUREMENT: WFP is the single largest purchaser of humanitarian food assistance in Africa, buying more than US$ 2 billion worth of food from African farmers and traders between 2003 and 2010. These purchases have allowed WFP to deliver food assistance more quickly and at a lower price.
•    SUPPORTING SMALL-SCALE FARMERS: Food security in developing countries can be strengthened by empowering smallholder farmers. WFP’s Purchase for Progress (P4P) initiative is a pilot programme in 15 African countries that is providing farmers with the expertise to improve the quality and size of their yields and better connect them to markets.
•    SAFETY NETS: WFP places a strong emphasis on social protection activities for vulnerable populations, including the prevention and treatment of mother/child malnutrition, school meals, assistance to families affected by HIV/AIDS and job creation and training programmes.