International Food Security
The recent rises in food prices, throughout the world, have brought increasing focus on the importance of global food security and the need to ensure a sustainable food supply for all consumers. Bad weather conditions including drought, the effects of the increasing price of oil and fundamental long-term changes in the world demand for food, particularly in developing countries, have put increasing pressure on world food supplies. These events have shown that food security should not be taken for granted. Europe has to consider the role of its own agri-food sector in ensuring international food security, so that it can play its part in ensuring a high standard of quality food for future global food security
As part of its international role DAFF participates in both the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the UN World Food Programme (WFP).
FAO is one of the largest specialised agencies of the UN and the main agency for agriculture, fisheries, forestry and rural development. FAO currently has over 180 member countries and one member Organisation, the European Union. It works towards the alleviation of hunger and poverty through promoting agricultural development, food security and raising nutritional standards. FAO provides a neutral forum for the discussion of important issues covered by its mandate. In addition FAO has a large field programme, operating approximately 2,500 projects in developing countries. DAFF is the lead Department in relation to FAO and pays Ireland's main annual subscription to the Organisation, which was €1.5 million in 2008. In addition to our regular contribution, DAFF provides extra-budgetary funding to FAO activities in a strategic manner, focusing on those areas where the FAO is performing well and has a strategic advantage.
WFP is the food aid organisation of the United Nations. The WFP provides food aid to meet the relief needs of victims of natural and other disasters and to low-income, food deficit countries, to assist in the implementation of economic and social development projects. Contributions are made either as cash, food or the basic items necessary to grow, store or cook food. Governments are WFP's principal source of funds, but increasingly businesses and individuals are also making a vital contribution to WFP's mission. Ireland's contribution to WFP is coordinated through two government Departments, DAFF and Irish Aid in Department of Foreign Affairs. In 2008 Ireland's overall contribution to WFP was some €25 million. In 2007, WFP fed 86.1 million people in 80 countries including most of the world's refugees and internally displaced people. 3.3 million tonnes of food aid was distributed in 2007.
Ireland gives completely untied food aid, in the form of cash contributions as opposed to 'in kind' commodity contributions. Cash contributions enable WFP to direct funding to where it is most needed and purchase food wherever it is most suitable.