Internet community connects with African farmers in campaign to feed the hungry
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has welcomed an innovative seasonal on-line fundraising campaign that connects together two different worlds -- small-scale farmers in rural Africa and a global community of food bloggers.
...the global community of foodies can make a real difference to poor people who struggle daily with hunger and survivalIt makes a unique connection between people with a fascination for fine food, dining and gastronomic delights, and a cause that improves the lives of impoverished African farmers and their communities.WFP Director of Public Policy Strategy, Nancy Roman
“It is difficult to imagine two worlds that are further apart – the high-end culinary world and rural African farmers,” said WFP Director of Public Policy Strategy, Nancy Roman. “But by coming together, the global community of foodies can make a real difference to poor people who struggle daily with hunger and survival.”
The funds raised in this campaign will go towards supporting WFP’s work in the tiny southern African kingdom of Lesotho. WFP has been helping rural communities in Lesotho by purchasing surplus grain from small-scale farmers who might otherwise struggle to sell their produce.
The grain bought by WFP is then used in programmes including those that supply school lunches to children in Lesotho – meals which provide a chance for a better start in life to millions of children around the world.
The “Menu for Hope” on-line raffle was conceived by the leading international food blogger, Pim Techamuanvivit, who uses her popular site as the launching pad for an annual fundraising campaign in aid of good humanitarian causes.
Last year, with the active participation and strong support of the global food blogging community, “Menu for Hope” was a runaway success -- more than doubling its target and raising over US$60,000 for WFP’s work -- through sales of on-line tickets that give purchasers a chance to win a variety of ”foodie” items.
"It's hard to contain my excitement about this year's Menu for Hope," said Pim Techamuanvivit from her base in San Francisco. "This is the 4th year that I have run this campaign, but this is the first time that we have tried to make this direct connection between the money we raise and the people who need it in a place like Lesotho. The internet is so much more powerful than other media in the way it can bring these diverse communities together."
Michelin-starred restaurants and internationally renowned chefs including Ferran Adria, from Spain, and Heston Blumenthal, from Britain, are among those supporting the initiative.
An enticing array of gastronomic items will be available on the “Menu for Hope” raffle, including invitations to join world-famous chefs for personal cooking lessons, rare cookery books, opportunities to dine in leading international restaurants, and many unusual recipes and ingredients.
Across the developing world, WFP is exploring how it can use its purchasing power to offer more direct financial support to small-scale farmers, providing them with a regular income, and reducing the cost to WFP of transporting food long distances to where it is most needed.
This year in Lesotho, WFP paid 20 small-scale farmers around US$2,800 for eight metric tons of maize.
“That might not seem much,” said Roman. “But when you realise that this is a country where more than a third of the people live on less than US$1 a day, you quickly understand the incredible impact this kind of investment can have.”
More than three-quarters of the food that WFP buys for its operations is now purchased in 70 developing countries -- a powerful tool to support small-scale farmers and stimulate agricultural markets.