Commissioner Andris Piebalgs: helping farmers to help themselves

At the World Food Day last 16 October, Commissioner for development Andris Piebalgs made a statement on the eradication of undernutrition and the EU role helping the farmers to organize themselves and generate decent income through their work.

“It is unacceptable that tonight, across the world, close to 870 million people – more than one and a half times the population of the European Union – will go to bed hungry. As I travelled in Kenya, in Djibouti or in Burkina Faso, I have seen the effects of hunger and under nutrition. It is a terrible and tragic thing to witness. The EU is strongly committed to catalysing real and permanent change in this area. During the London Hunger Event in August, I have pledged to reduce the number of stunted children (those who haven’t grown and developed enough due to a lack of access to the right sort of food) by at least 7 million by 2025. The EU is already at the forefront of the fight against hunger, as every year, we invest around €1 billion in agriculture, food and nutrition security.”

African farmers

Concerning the African farmers the Commissioner stated: “I wholeheartedly support this year’s focus on “Agricultural Cooperatives”. Agriculture is the lifeblood of African economies– more than half a billion Africans, or some 65 per cent of the population (more than 80 per cent in some countries) depend on small or micro-scale farming as their primary source of livelihood. These farmers grow crops on small plots of land, often far away from markets, roads, assets or even electricity. Therefore they are extremely vulnerable to shocks and have difficulties in providing food for themselves and their communities.”

The Eu role

 “The EU actively helps those farmers to organise themselves and generate decent income through their work. Farmers’ organisations have a crucial role to play: they increase food security and can promote the empowerment of women and young people in agriculture. That is why I am glad to announce that we will launch a new €26.9 million initiative “Farmers Africa” to further support farmers’ organisations to empower smallholders and help them to participate in decision-making that influences their lives. In addition, the EU is very active within the G8 “New Alliance” which aims at boosting productivity, private sector investments and supporting innovation and technology in Africa. To this end we will invest €3 million in HarvestPlus to develop rich seeds to benefit the poor in Africa and India. I strongly believe that a tide has turned in the fight against under nutrition and we are closer to realising the aim of a “hunger free” world.”

Henry Borzi