The Government of Nicaragua, the World Food Programme (WFP), the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation, universities, non-government organizations and members of agricultural cooperatives joined to celebrate World Food Day 2012. The aim of this event is to inform the public about measures being undertaken to reduce food insecurity and undernutrition in Nicaragua. World Food Day is celebrated throughout the world on 16 October and this year’s theme is “Agricultural Cooperatives – Key to Feeding the World.”
During his opening statement, Pedro Haslam, Minister of Home Economics, Community, Cooperatives and Associates, underscored the impact of the cooperatives' work in Nicaragua. More than 4,400 cooperatives have a membership of approximately 220,000 people who work in farming and complimentary activities like providing credit, transport etc in Nicaragua. "Seventy percent of the labor force is found in small scale economy at the community level, which accounts for 40% of Nicaragua's GDP,” said Minister Haslam. “It's a very important contribution to the country's economy!"
World Food Day includes the celebration of International Day of Rural Women, a central event being held at the National Parliament, a national meeting of cooperatives, a children’s drawing competition in schools in Nueva Segovia, San Francisco Libre, Villa El Carmen and Tipitapa and Food Security and Nutrition Festival, among other activities.
World Food Day activities were outlined during a press conference. From right to left, Minister Pedro Haslam of the Ministry of Household Economics, Community, Cooperatives and Associates; Meling Preza Romas, President of the National Council of Cooperatives; Benjamin Dixon, Vice Minister of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAGFOR); WFP County Director, Helmut W. Rauch (speaking in the photo); FAO Representative, Gero Vaagt, and the Rector of the University of Agriculture, Telemaco Talavera.
WFP Country Director, Helmut W. Rauch, recalled that 15 October is the International Day of Rural Women to recognize and promote the tremendous role played by women in feeding the world. Women produce 60 to 80% of the food consumed in developing countries. In Nicaragua they make up 30% of the cooperatives' membership.
Small farmers create more advantages, more opportunities, farming information, harvesting, storing and markets when they work together through associations and cooperatives. The World Food Programme, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, the Nicaraguan Institute of Agricultural Technology (INTA) and the new Ministry of Household Economics, Community, Cooperatives and Associates, work together with nine agricultural cooperatives in Nueva Segovia and their 2,000 small holder farmers through the Purchase For Progress (P4P) project.
The Purchase for Progress (P4P) initiative puts into practice the wealth of experience that WFP develops with its associates, like the Ministry of Agriculture (MAGFOR) and the Ministry of Education (MINED) and local associates, to support the work of small farmers. The goal is to promote the farmers' access to markets and fair prices for their crops, decent trading conditions and the sustainability of the initiative. Capacity building, the strengthening of the cooperatives movement and the promotion of gender equality are at the heart of the P4P initiative.
Thanks to an initiative of the Minister of Education, Miriam Soledad Raudez, some 10,000 Nicaraguan pre-school and school children will spend one day in October drawing pictures about the School Feeding Programme. The goal is to allow these children to express what it means to them to receive a hot meal in school. The drawings will be part of the Second Children Drawing Competitions during World Food Day, organized by WFP.
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