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FAO reports success of EU ‘food facility’ interventions in Togo

06 October 2011

In August 2011 the FAO reported on the success of a €2.5 million programme in support of agricultural development in Togo, financed in 2009 under the EU ‘Food Facility’. The programme sought to assist 20,000 Togolese farmers in restarting their production. ‘Some 15,000 farmers have received seeds and fertiliser to grow staple crops such as maize, rice and sorghum, while 5,500 more got inputs for market gardening’. By 2011 these farmers were self-sufficient in food, with an estimated value of production of €4.7 million.

In addition to this direct assistance, the programme also provided support to the government to rehabilitate a seed farm that would be capable of meeting national seed requirements and to establish a market information system encompassing the whole of the country.

At a general level, in July 2011 the EC released a memorandum on its ‘aid for trade’ initiative. The memorandum identified a number of key ‘behind the border’ constraints on the ability of developing countries to exploit trade preferences. These included ‘a lack of productive capacity and ability to meet standards in high value export markets, excessive red tape or poor infrastructure’. The memorandum argued that ‘targeting these constraints is what Aid for Trade is all about, along with strengthening countries’ capacity to negotiate and implement trade agreements to their benefit’.

The EC indicates that its ‘aid for trade’ support has more than doubled since the 2000–2005 period to €10.5 billion in 2009 (€7.1 billion from member states and €3.3 billion through the EU). By 2009 the EU accounted for around 37% of global ‘aid for trade’ support. Africa is by far the largest recipient of EU ‘aid for trade’ support, accounting for 41% of the global total in 2009.

Two specific examples of ‘aid for trade’ support in Africa are highlighted: a joint public–private sector partnership to promote sustainable cocoa production in Côte d’Ivoire, subsequently extended to Ghana and Nigeria, and beyond the ACP to Ecuador; and a programme of support to coffee and tea production in Rwanda.

Editorial comment

Against the background of rising prices and increased price volatility, which can undermine domestic production, the FAO report is illustrative of the kind of concrete benefits that can stem from programmes of direct assistance with input supply in ACP countries. Significantly, in addition to a short-term input supply component, the EU-financed programme implemented by the FAO in Togo sought to build up national capacities to sustain essential input supplies, such as seeds, while supporting the strengthening of marketing infrastructure, which allows the realisation of the full commercial value of smallholder production.

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