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Congress Blocks the Move for Local Procurement of Food Aid While Famine in Southern Africa Reinforces the Need for Drastic Chang

The Oakland Institute Media Alert

For Immediate Release: November 2, 2005

Contacts: Anuradha Mittal, Executive Director, (510) 469-5228; [email protected]

Congress Blocks the Move for Local Procurement of Food Aid While Famine in Southern Africa Reinforces the Need for Drastic Changes

The Oakland Institute Releases New Report on Food Aid Programs F

Oakland, CA November 2, 2005 — In light of the current debate in the Congress if food aid should be procured through local and regional purchases, the Oakland Institute’s new report, Food Aid or Food Sovereignty? Ending World Hunger in Our Time , calls for drastic changes in the international food aid system to make it more effective at preventing large-scale hunger emergencies and recommends food sovereignty as the policy tool to achieve food self-sufficiency.

In a dramatic departure from prevailing thought about international food aid programs, the report advocates that such programs shift their focus from dumping products on developing countries to helping build local agricultural infrastructure and supporting small-scale farmers. “It is shameful that Congress has failed to approve modest changes that would lead to local procurement of food aid,” said Anuradha Mittal, Executive Director of the Oakland Institute. “Examples from famine situations around the world show that policies that emphasize helping countries develop their own agriculture actually feed more people and decrease developing countries’ dependence on aid programs in the long run.” Canada has decided to procure 50% of its food aid through local and regional purchases. A major share of EU food aid– 90 percent in 2004– is now secured through purchases in developing countries. The U.S. is the only donor nation that still avoids local and regional purchases.

“World hunger is not caused by a shortage of food production in the developing world," says Frederic Mousseau, Oakland Institute’s Senior Fellow. “Most countries that experience the type of famine that we now see in Niger or Malawi export a large portion of their agricultural produce. This phenomenon has compounded the food deficit, causing high inflation and widespread hunger. Famine in Niger is a result of poverty among certain sections of the population who are unable to cope with price increases brought on by market deregulation and speculation.” Today food aid is being distributed to those who are too poor to buy food in the open market in Niger.

Food Aid or Food Sovereignty? evaluates current food aid programs, their response to food crisis situations, and the role that international relief agencies play in the fight against hunger. On the basis of this analysis, the report proposes specific steps to drastically change the current food aid system to combat world hunger more effectively. These include:

1) Local procurement of food aid which should prioritize purchases from small farmers

2) Support for small farmers through strong agricultural policies including land redistribution.

3) Support for the production of staple food rather than cash crops.

4) Protection of prices and markets

5) Better management of national food stocks

Chronic hunger affects an estimated 852 million people worldwide, killing as many as 30 to 50 million people each year. The victims of starvation include the approximately 6.5 million children who die from hunger and its related causes each year—one every five seconds.

About The Oakland Institute

The Oakland Institute is a policy think tank whose mission is to promote fair debate and increase public participation by bringing dynamic new voices into policy debates on critical economic and social issues. >Food Aid or Food Sovereignty? Ending World Hunger in Our Time is the first publication of the Oakland Institute’s Aid Watch, a research center, information clearinghouse, and early warning system for activists, policy makers, journalists and the public on international aid operations. To obtain a copy of the report, visit The published report is also available for purchase via the Oakland Institute. Contact [email protected].