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Sargent to Visit Ethiopia

Mr Trevor Sargent TD, Minister for Food and Horticulture at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, will visit Ethiopia next week to see, at first hand, how Irish funded support for agriculture and emergency relief efforts has helped to improve the lives of people living in Ethiopia. As part of a comprehensive programme Minister Sargent will visit a variety of development activities supported by Irish Aid, Irish NGOs, Irish business people and UN agencies.

During his stay Minister Sargent will visit a land rehabilitation project funded by Irish Aid that is part of a comprehensive programme to support food security for rural households. He will also meet with Mr Mikutui Kassa, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development with responsibility for Early Warning and Food Security. The recent report of the Hunger Task Force has emphasised the importance of improving smallholder productivity in Africa in order to improve overall food security. The economy of Ethiopia is primarily based on agriculture, with estimates suggesting it accounts for approximately half of gross domestic product (GDP), 60% of exports, and 80% of total employment. Production is overwhelmingly of a subsistence nature.

Minister Sargent will also meet with Dr Teowolde Birhan Gebre Egziabhur, Head of the Ethiopian Environment Protection Authority to discuss the contribution organic agriculture can make to food security in Africa, which was recently highlighted by the recent UNEP-UNCTAD report "Organic Agriculture and Food Security in Africa".

Minister Sargent will meet with a range of Irish NGOs and Irish business people interested in supporting development in Ethiopia, including Connect Ethiopia, Goal, Self Help, Camara Education, Christian Aid, Concern and Trocaire. His programme includes visits to see projects supported by these organisations including visits to local farmers to observe innovative farming techniques, environmental rehabilitation programmes and Information Technology training.

Minister Sargent will also visit emergency relief activities organised by the UN World Food Programme (WFP), which receives funding from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and Irish Aid. WFP is one of Ireland's leading humanitarian relief partners, providing food aid to hungry people in times of crises, and received €25.5m in funding for food aid from Irish Aid and Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in 2007.

This is Minister Sargent's first visit to a developing country and to Africa. Minister Sargent stated that "Ethiopia that has special memories for the Irish. We will never forget the tremendous work that Bob Geldof did for Ethiopia in 1985 through Live Aid, Band Aid and again in 2005".

Note for Editors

Minister Sargent's visit takes place from 24th to 29th November.

The World Food Programme (WFP) was established in 1962 and is the food aid organisation of the United Nations. It is an aid programme, which operates on the basis of voluntary contributions by donor countries pledged at irregular intervals. The WFP provides food aid primarily to low-income, food deficit countries, to assist in the implementation of economic and social development projects and to meet the relief needs of victims of natural and other disasters. In 2007, WFP fed 86.1 million people including 58.8 million children in 80 countries. Sudan was the largest single country operation in 2007. Currently some of WFP's major operations include: Eastern Africa (Kenya, Somalia, Djibouti and Ethiopia) Southern Africa (Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe) and elsewhere.

The Department of Agriculture and Food Provides core funding to WFP and Irish Aid responds to requests for emergency funding and supports other activities including the Rapid Response Initiative. The table below shows the increases in Ireland's contributions to WFP since 2002.

Annual contributions to WFP for all activities in Euro (2000-2008)


WFP Funding 2002 (€) 2003 (€) 2004 (€) 2005 (€) 2006 (€) 2007 (€) 2008 (€)
DAFF 4,519,745 4,520,072 6,096,985 7,277,242 8,590,508 10,739,523 9,960,000
Irish Aid 4,370,532 3,400,000 4,400,000 6,500,000 16,800,000 14,950,000 11,250,000
Total 8,890,277 7,920,072 10,496,985 13,777,242 25,390,508 25,689,523 21,210,000

Ireland was the fourth highest per capita contributor to WFP in 2007.

Date Released: 19 November 2008