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Richer countries like Canada must deliver proactive aid: head of UN rural food agency

OTTAWA — The head of a UN agency working to shore up rural food systems says richer countries need to focus on delivering proactive aid to developing countries instead of shifting to humanitarian work after crises have happened.

Alvaro Lario leads the International Fund of Agricultural Development and says supply-chain woes and climate change mean the world needs to focus on helping rural farmers feed their countries instead.

He noted that countries facing food-security issues tend to import food, so the rising cost of commodities and instability in supply chains has put people at risk.

Lario said during a recent visit to Ottawa from Rome that too many countries respond to instability through aid that amounts to “maintenance of the situation, rather than really tackling the underlying causes.”

His comments come as Canada and other western countries cut back their aid for the developing world and divert funding away from African countries to help Europe cope with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Trudeau government has cut back development spending to slightly more than pre-pandemic levels, while insisting it will be spending more on humanitarian aid as crises emerge.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 12, 2023.

Dylan Robertson, The Canadian Press

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