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In the most urgent food emergencies, Belgium provides food aid via the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). Rather than using its own (surplus) food for this purpose, Belgium advocates purchasing food aid from producers in the south as far as possible to avoid distorting local markets. Belgium also supports projects to restore crisis-hit agricultural production systems, via the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
Belgian development cooperation supports structural interventions aimed at increasing food production in developing countries. This is done in direct collaboration with governments in our partner countries, agriculture being a priority sector in the majority of indicative cooperation programmes. Alongside this, the Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries (BIO) supports the development of private companies active in the agriculture sector.
This sector also receives plenty of multilateral attention, via the European Union and Belgium’s financing of international agricultural research (CGIAR) and the specialist UN agencies IFAD and FAO. Last but not least, many of the NGOs financed by Belgium are active in the agriculture sector.
Food security is not just about agricultural production. Local people must also be able to buy enough food for their needs. The Belgian Survival Fund (BSF) was set up specifically to improve the food security of the most vulnerable population groups in the poorest African countries. The Fund follows an integrated multi-sector approach: its actions focus not only on agriculture, food production and drinking water supply but also on improving healthcare, primary education and other basic social services.
In 2008, Belgium decided to significantly step up its commitment to agriculture and rural development. It plans to devote 10% of its official development assistance (ODA) to the issue by 2010, with this figure rising to 15% by 2015.