New food aid strategy boosts program funding

The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) has announced a funding boost for food security programming and research as part of its new Food Security Strategy.

CIDA will focus its food security efforts on three priorities: sustainable agriculture development, food assistance and nutrition, and research and innovation, the federal aid agency said in a release Friday.

Food self-sufficiency is “an essential base for all long-term development,” International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda said in the same release.

“The new Canadian International Food Security Research Fund demonstrates our commitment to achieving results by finding practical solutions to increase agricultural productivity, primarily aimed at smallholder farmers.” 

This $62-million, five-year fund, a joint initiative between CIDA and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), is meant to support research partnerships between Canadian and developing-country organizations.

The new fund’s research activities are to focus on applied research to address food insecurity and may include work on “crop resilience, the nutritional value of crops, and infectious diseases related to crops and animal production,” the government said.

The government also pledged to double its support to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to $75 million over three years and support two Challenge Programs undertaken by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).

As part of its priority on sustainable ag development, CIDA said it plans to double all related investments to $1.2 billion from 2007-08 levels over three years.

It also said it would look to increase rural smallholder farmers’ access to agricultural technologies, knowledge, financial services, markets, land, water and other natural resources.

In terms of direct food aid and nutrition, the agency said it would look to explore innovative initiatives on food assistance and nutrition programming. For example, CIDA said it would contribute $30 million to the United Nations’ World Food Program’s Purchase for Progress program, which buys from local farmers.

CIDA said it will also increase investment for research and innovation, to “broaden and deepen publicly available research that focuses on food security issues,” such as that through its new food security research fund and the CGIAR programming.

The government in February said it would focus its bilateral development efforts on 20 countries, chosen “based on their needs and their capacity to use development aid effectively and efficiently, and in support of Canada’s foreign policy priorities.”

Those 20 countries include Bolivia, Vietnam, the Caribbean Region, Ukraine, Colombia, the West Bank and Gaza, Haiti, Ethiopia, Honduras, Ghana, Peru, Mali, Afghanistan, Mozambique, Bangladesh, Senegal, Indonesia, Sudan, Pakistan and Tanzania.

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