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Irish Official Elected Chairperson of the Prestigious Food Aid Convention

Representatives from over thirty donor Governments have gathered in London for the 100th Session of the Meeting of the Food Aid Committee on 5 June. An Irish Official, Ms Sharon Murphy of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (DAFF) was unanimously elected as Chairperson of the Committee for a one-year period commencing on the 1st of July 2009.

The 1999 Food Aid Convention (FAC) is the main international agreement on the provision of food aid.  It works both as a code of conduct regarding best practice, and as a commitment to provide a certain minimum level of food aid annually. These pledges are made in tonnes of grain or in the equivalent promise of financial assistance. EU Member States have an annual commitment of 420,000 tonnes or €130 million euros.  When the Convention was negotiated in 1999 Ireland's commitment was set at €1.524 million.  However Ireland's food aid donations greatly exceed this level and reached €25m in 2008. The Convention was recently extended for a further year until 30 June 2010. It is currently anticipated that the forthcoming December meetings of the FAC, under the Irish Chair, will focus on the objectives and structure of a potential new Convention and the continuing efforts of members to enhance the effectiveness of the Convention.

Ireland's national position has been to focus on the delivery of emergency, cash only and untied food aid.  This is in line with best international practise as recognised by the OECD and concentrates on the delivery of aid in a timely fashion and, in many cases, using the cash to purchase surplus food from within the affected region. However, it is acknowledged that other countries may deliver assistance by other means and the FAC will covers these other arrangements. The re-negotiation of the FAC will allow the donor Members to support a move towards a Food Assistance Convention and to provide binding commitments to allow countries to meet their minimum commitments. 

Date Released: 10 June 2009