The Centre hosted a delegation from Mexico´s government for an exchange on school feeding initiatives

Mexican delegation learns how smallholder argiculture can be integrated into school feeding programmes.

The mission, which took place between 6 and 10 August, was composed of three representatives from the Sistema Nacional para o Desenvolvimento Integral da Família (SNDIF), Maria Isabel Ferre Eguiluz, Veronica Perez Zarate and Joanna Cristo Aguirre. Throughout the study visit, which also included representatives from the World Food Programme´s offices in Panama and Honduras, the Centre strove to offer a stimulating environment for facilitating a south-south policy dialogue.

Brasilia - Whilst Mexico already has a comprehensive school feeding programme in place, the delegation was interested in learning of Brazil´s experience with the Zero Hunger Strategy and its multi-sectoral framework that connects school feeding to local purchase initiatives. In Mexico, as elsewhere, the financial crisis and rising food prices have put pressure on smallholder farmers in particular. The Mexican government sought to provide safety nets such as reducing tariffs for commodities and increasing social protection for poorer families through cash transfers. Thus even though, between 2008 and 2010, poverty rose by 1.7% the population living in extreme poverty fell by 0.2%.  Brazil´s food acquisition programme (PAA), which has attempted to increase the nation´s food and nutritional security whilst also ensuring that family farms are integrated into the market and gain more recognition, offers an additional model of a buffer against rural poverty.

In Brasilia the delegation participated in a number of discussions within the Centre and outside at various ministries, they had the opportunity to explore the different aspects of the National School Feeding Programme (PNAE) – one of the largest in the world. The delegates expressed much interest in gaining an overview of the institutional mechanics that link farmers´ organisations, Government-contracted suppliers and social beneficiaries. Thus meetings were held with representatives from the national fund for education development, the school feeding programme, the ministries of social development and agrarian development and the Government´s food supply operator.

Furthermore, study trips in the Brasilia area were held over two days. These visits enabled the delegates to get firsthand experience of the workings of the supply chain, from family farms and food producers´ associations through to school canteens and cooperatives. Catching attention of the state media, the delegates were interviewed in the field by the news channel NBR (in Portuguese only).

The response of the delegation to the study visit was broadly positive and expressed enthusiasm for the WFP´s collaboration with the Mexican Government on improving their school feeding programme. They also underlined the reciprocal dynamic that is at the heart of a productive policy dialogue.

Joanna Cristo Aguirre, Director General of Food and Community Development, Ministry of Health, says: “I think Mexico could benefit a lot from Brazil´s school feeding experiences, in particular from monitoring and evaluation tools. On the other hand, Mexico was the first country in Latin America to develop a multidimensional poverty measure, and that could be of Brazil´s policymakers´ interest”.

“Mexico and Brazil have a lot in common. They are the greatest economies of Latin America and have much to share. The WFP Centre is ready to support Mexico to strengthen their National School Feeding Program” , said Daniel Balaban, Director of WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger in Brasilia.

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About the WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger

The World Food Programme and the government of Brazil launched in partnership the WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger to promote sustainable national social safety nets based on the successes and lessons learnt from the Brazilian experience. The WFP Centre of Excellence is a bridge for south-south cooperation in capacity development in the areas of school feeding, nutrition and food security. It brings southern nations together who want to learn and develop their own programmes.

Since its official launch in November 2011, the Centre has organized a total of 8 study visits from 8 countries (Mali, East Timor, Haiti, Guinea Bissau, Malawi, Rwanda, Niger, and Guinea Conarky). Learn more about it at: http://www.wfp.org/centre-of-excellence-hunger/news