May 17, 2012
The Global Agriculture & Food Security Program, known as GAFSP, stands out for its early results in improving food security for the world's poor.
On the eve of the G8 Summit, food security is again taking center stage, and for good reason. Almost 1 billion people are struggling with hunger every day. Most of them are children.
As high and volatile food prices continue to impact the world’s poorest people, global action is critical. Seventy-five percent of the world’s poor live in rural areas, and most depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. In addition, higher food prices have increased undernourishment. As a result, progress toward the Millennium Development Goals closely linked to food and nutrition is lagging, particularly with respect to child mortality and maternal mortality.
In developing countries that face more volatile international markets, it is essential to increase the productivity and resiliency of food production. One program that stands out for its early results and future potential is the Global Agriculture & Food Security Program, known as GAFSP, which is drawing acclaim from donors, recipients, and civil society.
7.5 Million beneficiaries in 12 countries are being reached by GAFSP in just the first call for proposals.
In 4 countries that are reporting results targets – Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Niger, and Rwanda – 44,415 hectares are expected to have new, improved, or rehabilitated irrigation and drainage services.
In Rwanda, 70% of farmers are now using improved farming practices. The GAFSP project there has reached 6,752 beneficiaries, 54% of them women.
Administered by the World Bank, GAFSP was established in April 2010 at the request of the G20 and is a transformational approach to aid targeted to helping countries make lasting improvements through sustainable investment in agriculture and food security. Seven countries and the Bill &Melinda Gates Foundation have pledged about $1.1 billion over 3 years.
Neil Watkins of ActionAid noted, “One of the best outcomes of the L'Aquila summit three years ago was the creation of the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP), an innovative multi-donor trust fund that backs country plans and engages farmers and civil society in decision making and implementation. It's already making a huge difference in 12 countries.”
In Togo, where the agriculture sector contributes 40 percent to GDP, GAFSP is working with other donors to 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. The project is expected to directly benefit 62,000 people, including crop farmers, fish producers, and fish merchants.
In Rwanda, one of GAFSP’s first beneficiaries, the funding is co-financing a project 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. GAFSP is transforming lives, said Hon. John Rwangombwa, minister of finance in Rwanda. Next week, this groundbreaking partnership will meet to choose another batch of countries that will receive approximately $180 million in grant funding.
In Nepal, GAFSP will support a project that seeks to explicitly integrate food and nutrition security issues by increasing productivity of agriculture (crops, livestock and fisheries), strengthening the livelihoods base for food insecure communities, and improving the nutritional intake of adolescent, pregnant, and lactating women and children under two years old. The direct beneficiaries for this project are expected to include 150,000 small farmers and 25,000 adolescent girls, young mothers and children.
GAFSP is just one of the many ways that the World Bank Group (WBG) is working to put food first. Other World Bank Group efforts include:
- In response to drought in the Horn of Africa, the WBG is providing $1.8 billion to save lives, improve social protection, and foster economic recovery and drought resilience.
- A first-of-its-kind risk management product, provided by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), will enable protection from volatile food prices for farmers, food producers, and consumers in developing countries.
- The Global Food Crisis Response Program is helping 40 million people in 47 countries through $1.5 billion in support.
- The Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) framework for action to address undernutrition was endorsed by over 100 partners, including the World Bank.
- The WBG is boosting spending on agriculture to some $6 billion to $8 billion a year from $4 billion in 2008.
- The WBG is coordinating with UN agencies through the High-Level Task Force on the Global Food Security Crisis and with non-governmental organizations.
- Supporting the Partnership for Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS) to improve food market transparency and to help governments make informed responses to global food price spikes.
- Advocacy for more investment in agriculture research -- including through the Consultative Group on International Agriculture Research (CGIAR) – and monitoring agricultural trade to identify potential food shortages.
- Supporting improved nutrition among vulnerable groups through community nutrition programs aimed at increasing use of health services and improving care giving. As part of its response to the food crisis, the Bank has supported the provision of some 2.3 million school meals every day to children in low income countries.
- IFC will invest up to $1 billion in the Critical Commodities Finance Program, aimed to support trade in key agricultural and energy-related goods, to help reduce the risk of food and energy shortages, as well as improve food security for the world’s poorest.