By Abdallah el-Kurebe

Abidjan, Cote d’IVoire – April 9, 2016: The FAO Regional Conference for Africa, which ended on Friday in Abidjan, Cote d’IVoire has  unveiled new beneficiaries of the Africa Solidarity Trust Fund (ASTF) to support their national  agricultural priorities.

Maria Helena Semedo, FAO Deputy Director General and Coordinator of Natural Resources revealed that the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Islamic Republic of Gambia and Swaziland would access $750,000, broken into $250,000 each.

She added that while the funds for the DRC, would be used to complement and scale up successful FAO participatory interventions that promote rural women and men’s socioeconomic, proved empowerment, the Gambia would build on enhancing the  agricultural component of the Gambia Women’s Empowerment Programme (GAMWEP) on improving the access of women’s groups to productive resources.

“For Swaziland, the funds will support the commercialization of sweet potatoes. The project is expected to expand FAO’s work by increasing rural women’s access to productive resources such as improved seeds,” among other things.

Meanwhile, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations has renewed its call for an expanded Africa-for-Africa and South South Cooperation (SSC), especially in view of the commendable achievements of the Africa Solidarity Trust Fund (ASTF), which results had hiked the Cooperation’s vision to achieve food security across the continent.

“Based on the successes and lessons learned to date on ASTF implementation, which are many and for which documented evidences is available at this Conference, I will like to express our deep appreciation to those African governments that committed the funds,” said Maria Helena Semedo, FAO Deputy Director General and Coordinator of Natural Resources during the Ministerial Roundtable of the Conference.

The DDG called for expanded partnerships and encouraged other African nations to share their expertise as well as make additional financial contributions to fund  initiatives that involved knowledge exchange across the continent.

Since the establishment of the Fund in 2013, “Contributions have reached $40 million with Equatorial Guinea and Angola being the major financial contributors,” the statement read in parts adding that “the Fund had allocated $34.5 million to 15  regional programmes and  national projects, which were being implemented in 36 countries to boost efforts of eradicating hunger and reduce malnutrition and poverty,” the statement further read.