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$5.5m initiative for food security in Mediterranean countries

Food security Reuters/Mohamed Azakir
The package, launched in January, is in response to the grain crisis affecting food security in some Arab countries
  • Crisis in grain markets is result of Russian invasion of Ukraine
  • Package looks at local food production and environmental constraints

A new $5.5 million package of technical assistance to improve food security in Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco and the West Bank and Gaza has been agreed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations.

The joint initiative, which will be launched in January, is in response to the crisis in grain markets as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has made global food security more precarious.

Russia is the world’s largest grain exporter and Ukraine is the fourth largest.

The World Food Programme sources 40 percent of the wheat for its emergency food-relief programmes from Ukraine, but after its operating costs rose by $70 million a month, it has been forced to halve rations in several countries.

The package supports public and private investment in upgrading national grain import systems, including the development of more efficient procurement and better storage infrastructure.

It will also help countries reassess their own food production potential, looking at climate and environmental constraints and maximising the value of local production, including through trade diversification.

The new technical assistance package complements the EBRD’s individual financing for these countries. Tunisia, for instance, has received a $150.5 million loan to buy cereals in the face of the global markets’ crisis.

“Transforming agrifood systems calls for a range of technical solutions, enabling policies and investment,” said FAO director-general QU Dongyu.

“Together with the EBRD and other partners, FAO has been supporting members to move forward on these three fronts simultaneously to ensure the Four Betters: better production, nutrition, environment and a better life for all – leaving no one behind.”

The FAO and the EBRD began cooperating in 1997 and have paved the way for 200 joint technical assistance projects worth $60 million.

EBRD president Renaud-Basso added: “Boosting food security is one of the EBRD’s priorities and, together with the FAO, we are able to put our joint expertise in finance and technical solutions to the benefit of the regions where we both operate.

“The new technical assistance programme in the southern and eastern Mediterranean is the latest example.”