17 August 2012

Rwanda to Learn From Brazil's School Feeding Programme

The Minister of Agriculture, Dr Agnes Kalibata, has said the schools feeding initiative run by the World Food Programme will go a long way in combating hunger and promoting nutrition in schools.

She was speaking at the Prime Minister's Office yesterday, where she had accompanied a visiting Brazilian delegation.

The minister said a meeting is due next month to streamline implementation of the programme.

The visiting Brazilian delegation is supported by the World Food Program (WFP) Centre of Excellence against Hunger, which runs a similar programme in Brazil.

A statement from WFP said the progamme is expected to be modelled around Brazil's WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger.

"After initiating the programme in Brazil it benefited over 47 million school children. They use their own food and money to feed their children, that's what we want also to establish," said Kalibata.

The delegation is in Rwanda as a follow-up to a visit to Brazil by a Rwandan inter-ministerial team in April 2012.

The head of the delegation, Daniel Silva Balaban, said they visited Rwanda to provide technical support on how to formulate the programme that will also provide market to small-scale farmers.

Balaban told reporters after meeting with Prime Minister Pierre Damien Habumuremyi that the strategy had been successful in several countries.

"We started it in Brazil ten years ago and now all children in our country receive health food and they all go to school", he said. "What we need is to see how Rwanda can also benefit".

He said with appropriate and well-established strategy it would provide market for local farmers since they would be the ones to supply the food commodities.

Last year, the two countries agreed to promote cooperation in agriculture after a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Brazilian External relations minister Antonio Patriota and minister Kalibata.

The agreement was reached in Rome, Italy, where the two ministers were attending a meeting organised by Food and Agriculture FAO.

Brazil, the largest and most densely inhabited country in South America with a population of close to 200 million, is among the food secure nations with vast experiences in agricultural technology.

Dr Kalibata pointed out that the new partnership would immensely impact the country.

The programme will help create a linkage to the One-Cup-of-Milk-per-Child programme, the Gir'inka project as well as other initiatives aimed at improving children's nutrition, she said.

The bilateral memorandum will help promote technical cooperation, capacity building and the transfer of knowledge, and competencies available in Brazil.

It also recognises South-South cooperation as a modality of cooperation for development with the greatest potential to promote economic growth, reduce inequality and improve standards of living in developing countries.

Since 2002 WFP is providing lunch to over 350,000 primary school children in 300 Rwandan schools, which has helped increase school attendance rate, reduced dropout rate and increased school permanence.

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