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World Food Day (16 October): Australia renews Food Aid Convention

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World Food Day (16 October) Australia renews Food Aid Convention

Australia is renewing its commitment to the international Food Aid Convention on the eve of World Food Day, the Minister for Trade and Overseas Development, John Kerin, announced today.

"During each of the next two years Australia will provide about 300,000 tonnes of Australian wheat or grain equivalents as food aid to countries suffering serious food shortfalls," Mr Kerin said.

Mr Kerin said that Australia is one of the world's largest providers of food aid to developing countries, providing over $100 million in wheat and other commodities in 1991-92. Food aid commodities are purchased from Australian producers by AIDAB, Australia's overseas aid agency, at market prices.

"Despite improvements in world food supplies, about one fifth of the world's population still doesn't have sufficient food to lead a healthy and productive life," Mr Kerin said.

"Improving their nutritional well-being means upgrading agricultural productivity and improving distribution and market mechanisms.

"For now food aid has to fill the gap between poor countries' agricultural output and their capacity to import food on commercial terms.

"Food crises caused by war or natural disasters, such as the calamitous situation in Somalia, require an urgent food aid response."

Mr Kerin said food aid is also used as payment for community participation in agricultural rehabilitation schemes or building basic rural infrastructure, and supports nutrition, health and education programs.

Mr Kerin said that World Food Day serves to reaffirm and revitalise global commitment to fighting hunger, malnutrition and disease amongst the poor in developing countries.

"Australia, with its commitment to free and equitable world trade in food commodities, will continue to meet its international responsibilities in meeting the immediate food needs of the world's poorest people," Mr Kerin said.

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CANBERRA For further information contact AIDAB Public Affairs: David Jones (06) 276 4967 or A.H (06) 241 6248 COMMONWEALTH