Malawi, other African Countries get GAFSP agriculture grants

Malawi will receive $39.6 million to promote irrigated rice and horticulture production as well as crop diversification , Partners in the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP) announced on Friday.

GAFSP, is a fund that supports country-led efforts to fight hunger and poverty.

It announced that six countries will receive grants totaling $177 million. The grants – to Burundi, the Gambia, Kyrgyz Republic, Malawi, Senegal, and Tanzania – will help each country increase food security, raise rural incomes, and reduce poverty. 
 
International food prices remain volatile and high with the 2011 annual index 24 percent higher than its average in 2010. 

Prices of certain foods remain dangerously high in many countries, leaving millions of people at risk of malnutrition and hunger, many of them children.

 In developing countries that face more volatile international markets, it is essential to increase the productivity and resiliency of food production. 

 “The Global Agriculture and Food Security Program has quickly proven to be one of the most innovative and effective development programs the global community has created,” said Lael Brainard, Under Secretary of the United States Treasury for International Affairs.

 “GAFSP will raise the incomes of 7.5 million smallholder farmers and their families. These new grants will meet the high global demand for agricultural resources to achieve food security. Continued financial support from the development community is critical to maintaining momentum in the fight to achieve sustainable, lasting solutions to hunger and poverty.” 

 Launched in April 2010, GAFSP represents a global effort to aid vulnerable populations afflicted by hunger and poverty. It takes up where emergency and recovery assistance leaves off, targeting transformative and lasting change in agriculture and food security within poor countries through financial support to existing aid effectiveness processes. 

 In Togo, where the agriculture sector contributes 40 percent to GDP, GAFSP support is helping the country to implement their national agriculture plan and has funded seeds, fertilizer, and training for farmers.

 It has helped farmers to organize better, improved the production of maize and cassava, and increased donor coordination. 

In Rwanda, one of GAFSP’s first beneficiary countries, the funding is being used to reduce erosion and bolster productivity in hillside agriculture with tremendous results: potato yields are seven times higher than before and cereal yields have quadrupled. 

 Australia, which was selected as the new chair of the GAFSP Steering Committee, will work to improve the responsiveness of the fund, encourage quality proposals, and attract more donors. 

“The program has already achieved significant results and we anticipate a substantial increase in national food security. For instance, in Cambodia GAFSP will help farmers to diversify their crops which will increase incomes, allowing families to feed themselves while obtaining goods and services to improve their nutrition and welfare,” AusAID First Assistant Director 
General, James Gilling said. 

“Channeling funding through GAFSP means we can reduce costs and ensure that aid efforts are coordinated, not duplicated.”
         
In Burundi, GAFSP funds totaling $30 million will improve water management and irrigation in the drought-prone regions of Imbo and Mosso, with investments in infrastructure and agricultural intensification through improved technologies, productive assets, and the establishment of farmer field schools.         

In The Gambia, $28 million in GAFSP funds will target three highly food-insecure regions via an integrated area development program that includes land and water management, horticultural gardens, aquaculture farming, and small ruminant and poultry farming. 

In the Kyrgyz Republic, GAFSP has allocated $16.5 million to support a project that focuses on the rehabilitation of irrigation and drainage systems, building the capacity of water user associations, providing agricultural extension services, and a nutritional component. 

In Senegal, $40 million in GAFSP funds will promote livestock and crop production in three high-potential, drought-prone zones, including investments focused on: provision of water management systems, rural roads, vaccination centers, and financing for model ruminant and poultry operations.

Tanzania will receive $22.9 million to support the rehabilitation of 18,500 hectares of irrigation schemes designed and managed by local government authorities, as well as subsidy on rice input packages in the project zones under an input voucher scheme.