Five nations to get $224 mln to boost food output


The US Treasury Department said that five developing countries will get grants totalling $224 million from a new fund set up to reduce global hunger and poverty.

The Global Agriculture and Food Security Program was launched in April 2010 in response to a call from Group of 20 leaders in Pittsburgh last year for the World Bank to find ways to set up a trust fund for donors who wanted to help.

The US, Canada, South Korea, Spain and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation put $880 million into the fund and the timing of yesterday’s announcement — ahead of meetings this week of G8 and G20 leaders — was intended to show a commitment to reduce food insecurity.

The first round of grants will go to Bangladesh, Haiti, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Togo. Treasury said an estimated two million people should benefit from the funding to boost food production and reduce poverty.

Treasury said that estimates were that a sudden increase in food prices in 2008 drove some 100 million people into poverty and even before that price spike, 850 million people in poor countries were chronically malnourished.