Peace Corps and UNs FAO Sign Agreement to Improve Food Security Around the World

November 24, 2004

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 24, 2004 – Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations Director General Dr. Jacques Diouf signed an historic agreement today that will enhance the two organizations' collaboration and efforts to improve food security and the conditions of rural people across the globe.
photo of Director Vasquez and FAO Director-General Dr. Jacques Diouf
Director Vasquez and FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf signed an agreement that will strengthen the two agencies' partnership.



The Memorandum of Understanding was signed at FAO headquarters in Rome. The agreement will promote collaboration with Peace Corps volunteers – who are well suited for initiating and implementing projects because of their relationships in communities – in areas ranging from food security, to small scale agriculture, to horticulture education.

"Alone, the Peace Corps and the FAO have both made a real difference in the world. Now, as partners, we will combine our expertise and work toward the common goal of helping to meet the world’s agriculture needs," said Director Vasquez.

For the Peace Corps, the memorandum means increased collaboration with FAO, better understanding of each other's work and sharing of both organization’s respective skills and experience, in particular at the community level, to allow volunteers to improve projects and strengthen existing programs.

Specifically, the agreement will impact the 6 percent of the total 7,733 Peace Corps volunteers who work in the agriculture sector and the 16 percent of volunteers who work in environment. Through working together, Peace Corps volunteers in rural settings will benefit from FAO's technical expertise in agriculture and other food and nutrition related subjects. FAO will benefit because Peace Corps volunteers work at the community level and are trained in the local language. They are able to share their information, skills and technical knowledge in a sensitive way. For example, volunteers working in HIV/AIDS education and prevention can strengthen and contribute to FAO's activities in AIDS-affected communities.

These are some of the ways the partnership will help volunteers work with people around the globe:

  • Team up on projects related to crop production and diversification, including planting multipurpose trees in communities across the world;

  • Help developing agro forestry techniques for the benefit of local farmers, such as wind breaks, alley cropping, live fencing and effective irrigation – all vital to the livelihood of their crops and often relatively inexpensive to implement;

  • Create new opportunities through FAO's Telefood Program which benefits community groups providing them the tools to increase food production;

  • Supply training and support for Peace Corps volunteers to help farmers branch out in new directions, such as poultry projects as alternative income generation for subsistence farmers or for farmers burdened with increased expenditures due to HIV/AIDS, which is a serious concern particularly in Africa;

  • Increase collaboration on activities to alleviate suffering and combat HIV/AIDS through improving nutrition and small-scale food production.

    Prior to this agreement, the Peace Corps and the FAO had been working together in a small number of countries, often in support of specialized agriculture or school garden projects. The agreement enhances and expands the work already being done.

    The FAO has an extensive decentralized network of offices at regional and country levels and engages in a wide range of field projects aimed at incof offices at regional and country levels and engages in a wide range of field projects aimed at increasing food production and alleviating hunger and poverty. For more information on the FAO, please visit: www.fao.org.

    Since 1961, more than 178,000 volunteers have served in the Peace Corps, working in such diverse fields as education, health, HIV/AIDS education and prevention, information technology, business development, the environment, and agriculture. Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a two-year commitment.

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