Oxfam Canada is applauding changes to food aid procurement rules that will allow up to 50 per cent of Canada’s food aid to be sourced in low-income developing countries. Previously, 90 per cent had to be sourced in Canada, making food aid more expensive and less effective.
"Much more food will reach the hungry," said Robert Fox, executive director of Oxfam Canada. "Rather than squandering our precious aid dollars on exorbitant inter-continental transportation, the money will feed the hungry and at the same time support struggling developing country farmers."
The new rules will drastically cut the cost and the time required to deliver food to hungry people in Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique this year, for example, because South Africa has plenty of surplus grain for sale.
Oxfam Canada and the Winnipeg-based Canadian Foodgrains Bank rallied supporters over the past year to push for greater local-purchase flexibility. Many Canadian farmers and farm organizations courageously looked beyond narrow self-interest and spoke up in favour of new rules.
"We are pleased the government responded to our requests to make the necessary change," said Jim Cornelius, Executive Director of Canadian Foodgrains Bank. "There will still be many instances when it will make sense to purchase Canadian products, but often purchasing locally makes more sense."
"This is cause for celebration," said Mark Fried of Oxfam Canada. "And it is a victory for the supporters of the Canadian Foodgrains Bank and Oxfam who worked to make it happen. Through small changes like this we can help Make Poverty History."