Malawi is to receive about US$39.6 million grant from the Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme (Gafsp) to help the country increase food security, raise rural incomes, and reduce poverty.

Gafsp, a fund that supports country-led efforts to fight hunger and poverty, said on Thursday grand is meant to promote irrigated rice and horticulture production as well as crop diversification and value chain development for selected commodities.

The money is part of the US$177 million Gafsp approved for six countries namely Burundi, the Gambia, Kyrgyz Republic, Malawi, Senegal, and Tanzania – will help each country increase food security, raise rural incomes, and reduce poverty.

According to Gafsp, international food prices remain volatile and high with the 2011 annual index 24 percent higher than its average in 2010 and that prices of certain foods remain dangerously high in many countries, leaving millions of people at risk of malnutrition and hunger, many of them children.

The organisation says it is essential to increase the productivity and resiliency of food production in developing countries that face more volatile international markets.

“The Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme has quickly proven to be one of the most innovative and effective development programs the global community has created,” said Lael Brainard, Under Secretary of the United States Treasury for International Affairs, in a statement.

“Gafsp will raise the incomes of 7.5 million smallholder farmers and their families. These new grants will meet the high global demand for agricultural resources to achieve food security. Continued financial support from the development community is critical to maintaining momentum in the fight to achieve sustainable, lasting solutions to hunger and poverty.”

Launched in April 2010, Gafsp represents a global effort to aid vulnerable populations afflicted by hunger and poverty. It takes up where emergency and recovery assistance leaves off, targeting transformative and lasting change in agriculture and food security within poor countries through financial support to existing aid effectiveness processes.

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ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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