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Thursday, September 11, 2008

European NGOs welcome support to Southern farmers

Concord press release - 11 September 2008: European NGOs welcome the 1 billion Euros fund for farmers but ask for long term measures

An innovative proposal of the European Union (EU) to redirect 1 billion Euros of unspent Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) funds to help millions of farmers across the developing world was applauded yesterday by senior leaders of the World Bank, Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and United Nations (UN).

CONCORD, the European confederation of relief and development NGOs, whose members represent over 1600 NGOs, welcomes this proposal and urges for strong, long term actions. “This is a clear opportunity for the European Union to demonstrate leadership and solidarity with farmers across the developing world”, says Tom Arnold of the CONCORD Working Group on Food Security issues.

In developing countries, small farmers are at the heart of the food chain as they provide most of the basic food. They know best how to meet the needs of their local community. As explained Ndiogou Fall, a Senegalese farmer and President of ROPPA, the network of farmer and agricultural producer organizations of West Africa, who spoke yesterday at an European Parliament hearing: “Such fund should ensure transparency, participation and empowerment of small scale family farmers and their organisations.”

European NGOs support this position and believe that EU Development aid needs to be invested in improving farmers’ production capacities through a plurality of farming methods, in farmers’ access to land and local markets and in the optimisation of farmers’ knowledge of biodiversity.

Sustainability is key. The European Union and its partners ought to look at a long term strategy. Olivier Consolo, CONCORD Director, adds: “Through this initiative of creating a fund, the European Union strives to contribute to bring a much needed short term response to the food crisis. In a longer term, a systemic answer to the crisis is needed. That is why European NGOs will continue advocating for EU policies which are more coherent with sustainable development.”

The world is facing a genuine global food crisis. Across the developing world increasing numbers of vulnerable people can no longer afford to feed themselves. Since 2000, the wheat price in the international markets has tripled, and corn has more than doubled in price.

Trade, agriculture, environment, energy and other policies have an impact on sustainable development. The European Union should make the 1 billion € available quickly, while reconsidering the impact of its policies on developing countries. CONCORD hopes that the discussions on the Common Agricultural Policy will be the occasion to reflect upon long term measures which improve European and International food security.

For more information contact An Van Goey, CONCORD policy officer

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