Global food and nutrition security (FNS), the overarching theme of the EXPO Milan 2015, remains high on the policy agenda. Still there is a growing difficulty for scientists and policy makers to keep up with the expanding volume of information about the challenge of meeting human food and nutritional needs while preserving natural resources. A 2-day event organised by the European Commission with the European Association of Agricultural Economists (EAAE) and the International Agricultural Trade Research Consortium (IATRC) at the margins of the EXPO Milan 2015, gathered high level speakers from academia, major international organisations and governments to provide a closer look at the various dimensions of food security.
Aflatoxin contamination is a growing threat to trade, food and health security in sub-Saharan Africa, where smallholder farmers are challenged by food production and now climate change, researchers said. Aflatoxins are toxic and cancer causing poisons produced by certain green mould fungus that naturally occurs in the soil. The poisons have become a serious contaminant of staple foods in sub-Saharan Africa including maize, cassava, sorghum, yam, rice, groundnut and cashews.
The government of Angola granted a plot of 7,000 hectares in Kwanza Sul province to Cabo Verde (Cape Verde) for agricultural development, said Thursday the Cape Verdean ambassador to Angola, Francisco Veiga. The ambassador, at the end of a courtesy visit to the governor of Kwanza Sul, Eusébio de Brito Teixeira, said the government would now consider what to produce on the land but said that maize production from improved seeds was one of the priority crops.
The government of Sweden said it will contribute 140 million SEK (16 million USD) for food aid to people "affected by the severe and ongoing drought in Ethiopia", Swedish Embassy in Addis Abeba said. The contribution is made through a grant to the World Food Program (WFP). "Through this contribution more than 1.5 million people in the Somali region will receive cereals, pulses and vegetable oil, helping to stabilize malnutrition rates, which have risen sharply in recent months since the drought took hold," a statement from the embassy reads, adding Sweden's contribution will also complement food distributions in other regions following the Government of Ethiopia's allocation of 4 billion birr (US$ 192 million) to relief efforts.
Since 2013, the population of the commune of Marigot (Southeast department, borough of Jacmel), supported by the organization Solidarity Union Cooperation (SUCO) and the European Union, is currently meeting the food security challenge through a project, which in addition to nutrition, aims to protect the environment and agricultural recovery. Two years after launching the project, the results are very encouraging: 18 hectares of watersheds were protected by the installation of metal structures and biological, more than 69,000 fruit and forest seedlings were planted nearly a thousand jobs were created and about 400 families became familiar with soil conservation techniques.
The European Commission has approved the cross-border cooperation programme for 2014-2020 between Mayotte, the overseas region of France and the neighboring Comoros islands, in East Africa. Le total budget of the programme amounts to just over €16million, of which €12million comes from the European Regional Development Fund. The program has three priorities: increasing trade in key sectors for the economy, such as food processing, Information Technologies and Communication and shipping, improving the state of the population’s health and rescue capabilities, as well as improving education.
EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, visited Niger to discuss the implementation of EU development cooperation to the country and announce extra support. Ahead of the mission, Commissioner Mimica said: "The EU is a major political, humanitarian and development actor in Niger. We are using all our instruments to tackle the numerous challenges that this country has to face, such as food and nutrition insecurity, youth unemployment, regional instability. The new EU Trust Fund will enable us to deliver quickly to address root causes of instability and irregular migration. Niger will be on the list of the first countries to benefit from the Trust Fund, with an initial package of €50 million."
Member of the European Parliament Louis Michel hosted a conference with the Food Bridge vzw in collaboration with the Federation of Anglophone Africans in Belgium and African Diaspora Network in Europe on ‘Food and Gender implications in global food systems’. Prof Dr Peter Scholliers, Professor of Contemporary History at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and head of the FOST (Social and Cultural Food Studies) research group gave the key note address.
The European Commission’s External Action Infopoint hosted a conference on "Improving nutritional outcomes in agriculture interventions". Agricultural interventions (from local projects to large scale policies) are usually regarded as positive or neutral toward human nutrition. The CIRAD/ACF team drew on lessons from 170 studies and identified six pathways from successful agricultural interventions to negative nutrition outcomes, and suggested recommendations to avoid them.
Ahead of the closing of the EXPO 2015 Universal Exhibition in Milan, the European Commission welcomed new independent experts' recommendations on how European research and innovation can help improve food and nutrition security around the world. The advice will ensure a strong legacy from the Commission's presence at EXPO, which has been dedicated to the theme of global food and nutrition challenges. The findings are part of a larger collection of scientific knowledge on the issue of food security and offer directions for future research and innovation actions at EU and international level.