LIBERIA: FAO holds Food Security Assessment Workshop

…. AU Summit adopts Jacques Diouf Food Security Prize – By: Augustine N. Myers – The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Liberia, has ended a one-day workshop with partner organizations, United Nations agencies, and the Ministry of Agriculture through the Central Agriculture Research Institute (CARI) to establish current food situation in counties affected by the Ivorian refugee crisis.

Participants at the food security assessment workshop at FAO Office in Monrovia

Participants at the food security assessment workshop at FAO Office in Monrovia

The Country Representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in Liberia, Mr. George Mburathi, says the FAO and its partners have been instrumental to support the government in assisting Liberian farmers.

According to him, FAO field technicians around Liberia are in permanent contact with communities, partners, and the government to make Liberia a food secure country.

Speaking at the opening of the one-day food security assessment workshop in Monrovia, Mr. Mburathi said Liberia was potentially capable of self sufficiency in food if international community invests in more resources towards providing the required agricultural inputs, technical support, training, and general capacity building of farmers and government institutions.

International NGOs, UN agencies, and the Ministry of Agriculture/CARI Wednesday attended a one-day food security assessment workshop to gauge prevailing food security needs of Ivorian refugees and host families in Nimba, Grand Gedeh, and Maryland Counties.

Presentations were made on the latest findings in terms of food security and viable ways of working with the refugees, host families, and the government to improve food security.

Participants at the food security assessment workshop at FAO Office in Monrovia

Participants at the food security assessment workshop at FAO Office in Monrovia

Discussions centered mostly on the recent assessment on food security in refugee areas, land tenure, as well as movement of refugees, and the general food security situation in the affected counties.

The food security actors forum later derived several proposals aimed at assisting more efficiently the affected communities in the next six months.

The proposals stressed the need to get a better consensus with the Government of Liberia on a food security roadmap for the country and how emergency food security interventions could be shifted more toward development, including the provision of more technical support in both lowland and upland farming ecologies.

The proposals further signaled that land availability and tenure for emergency agriculture interventions could be potential sources of problem if not carefully handled.

The FAO, German Agro Action, Catholic Relief Services, OXFAM, Norwegian Refugees Council, among others, attended the gathering.

Meanwhile, the African Union (AU) has established a “Food Security Award ” to the  outgoing Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Jacques Diouf as a continuing tribute to his stewardship of the Organization.

The $25,000 dollar prize will go to the improvement of small-scale farming and elimination of post-harvest losses in rural communities, agriculture innovation and environmental sustainability.

The Prize will be awarded to a member state or institution that has made an outstanding contribution towards achieving food security every two years.

Mr. Diouf steps down on 31 December 2011 after 18 years of service to the Organization during which the world was faced with food insecurity, food price instability and climate change challenges of exceptional magnitude and unprecedented complexity.

Under Diouf’s guidance the Organization has taken major steps towards resolving these problems by ensuring that agriculture is back on the global agenda.

FAO’s initiative on Food Security aims at reaching the goal of halving the number of hungry people in the world by 2015 (currently estimated at close to 1 billion people), as part of its commitment to the Millennium Development Goals.

A budget for the 2012-13 biennium has been approved for the Organization by governing members at the just ended FAO conference of governing members equivalent to a 1.4 percent increase over the current biennium.

The level of the budget and its unanimous adoption was considered an expression of confidence in the Organization by the Conference, which last week elected José Graziano da Silva, a national of Brazil, to be the next Director-General, starting on 1 January 2012.

In addition, FAO expects some $1.4 billion of voluntary contributions from members and partners over the next biennium. The fact that such extra-budgetary resources exceed the regular budget is further evidence of Members’ confidence in the Organization, Diouf said in his closing speech to the Conference.