FARM project, how effective is it in the face of global food insecurity?

Wheat field in Spasov, a village in Ukraine. @Liilia Moroz (CC-BY-SA-4.0)

One month after the start of the war in Ukraine on 24 February, France, as part of its Presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU), proposed a framework for solidarity-based coordination to address the global food insecurity caused by the blockade of Ukrainian Black Sea ports and the sanctions against Russia. Here we present to our readers and aid actors the features of this internationally adopted Food and Agriculture Resilience Mission (FARM) initiative.


The impact of the war in Ukraine on food insecurity is now more than clear and affects us all. According to the UN’s World Food Security Report published in early summer 2022, nearly one in ten people suffer from hunger. Russia and Ukraine alone account for about 30% of global wheat exports. Russia, the world’s largest exporter of cereals since 2016, and Ukraine, the world’s largest and fourth largest exporter of sunflower and corn, are at the heart of the global food system and ensure the supply of cereals for a large number of countries, particularly in Africa and the Middle East. The soaring cost of imported fertilisers and the drop in production due to the conflict is seriously disrupting supply systems and putting nearly 750 million people living in countries heavily dependent on Russian and Ukrainian exports in a vulnerable position. While African countries are heavily impacted, due to their already high levels of debt, the conflict also poses significant risks to Europe. Indeed, the European continent imports sunflower oil and corn from Ukraine, as well as N and K fertilisers (nitrogen and potassium fertilisers are part of the primary nutrients for plant growth) which ensure the fertilisation of European agriculture. In this context, it is therefore essential to strengthen support for the World Food Programme (WFP) and to reinforce the coordination of the various actors to maximise the impact of humanitarian and food aid.

Women preparing fields in Niger for the rain season to avoid droughts. ©CIAT

The Food and Agriculture Resilience Mission (FARM) initiative was set up under the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union in order to respond to the food crisis caused by the war in Ukraine and to help the most vulnerable countries affected. This project was launched in March 2022, following a meeting between members of the French government, private stakeholders, representatives of the WFP and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the European Commission and the European Investment Bank, and was endorsed by the European Union, the European Council, members of the G7 and the African Union. This meeting then led to the creation of a Private Sector Coalition for Food Security (PSCFS) in which each of the companies committed to ensuring the implementation of FARM missions by supporting :

  • The Ukrainian agricultural sector in its production and export capacities, in line with European efforts
  • Access to agricultural and food commodities and inputs for the most vulnerable countries alongside the WFP
  • The development of sustainable production capacities and robust value chains in fragile countries, particularly in Africa

This initiative is based on three major pillars: trade and transparency, solidarity and sustainable production. These three pillars aim to ensure trade in cereals, guarantee cereal supplies to vulnerable countries, support Ukrainian agricultural production and develop sustainable agricultural production capacities. Within these three pillars, four areas of action have been identified: increasing local production capacity, encouraging the consumption of local products, developing local markets, and limiting food waste.

Pillar Aim  Partner organisation Key actions
Trade  Ease tensions on agricultural markets, ensure full transparency of flows as well as stocks and fight against unjustified trade barriers WTO – exemption from restrictive export measures for all WFP purchases
Solidarity Support Ukrainian agricultural capacity, ensure affordable access to agricultural commodities in the most affected countries, and prepare for the effects of the war on agricultural production levels. WFP, OECD – Solidarity corridors initiative
Sustainable production Build agricultural capacity in a sustainable manner in the countries most affected. IFAD, World Bank, African Development Bank, Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme + French Development Agency (AFD) – capitalising on and developing existing initiatives such as the Great Green Wall, the African Union’s Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) and Plant Protein,

– Agricultural Value Chain Development Support Project



  1. Example of the IFAD-AFD partnership in Cameroon – Agricultural Value Chain Development Support Project (Piler Sustainable Production)

The partnership is based on three streams: a reaffirmed strategic dialogue, the development of operational synergies and the identification of coordinated financing opportunities. The aim of this IFAD-AFD partnership is, with the Cameroonian authorities, to strengthen the technical and management capacities of agricultural producers, the sustainability of agricultural practices and sustainable and responsible investment in the sector. To this end, the AFD-FIDA group is committed to strengthening human capital by offering professional training and agricultural advice.

Thus, as a first concrete and joint contribution to the FARM initiative, AFD has expressed its interest in engaging in a joint dialogue with the Cameroonian authorities and IFAD on a five million euro financial contribution to the Support Project for the Development of Agricultural Sectors – Phase 2 (PADFA II).

Inhabitants of a village in Chad facing a growing food crisis.  © EC/ECHO/Anouk Delafortrie (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

2. Development of the Great Green Wall Initiative, CAADP and Plant Protein Initiative (Sustainable Production Pillar)

Initiated in 2007, the Great Green Wall project for ecological restoration and the fight against food insecurity in Africa aims to restore 100 million hectares of degraded land. The project covers a strip of 8,000km, from Senegal to Djibouti (including Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Sudan, Eritrea and Ethiopia). Reforestation of this region helps combat climate change and desertification by promoting the evapotranspiration mechanism of plants on the land. Increasing the number of trees also helps to store CO2. On a socio-economic level, reforestation helps in the fight against poverty and food insecurity. Indeed, the project generates employment and produces food resources (fruits, vegetables). During the last 12 years, the project has not achieved these objectives because of several obstacles. Indeed, the project is not always the priority of governments, which are often preoccupied with geopolitical problems and violence. The countries also face a considerable lack of financial resources, which makes the implementation of the initiative more complex. Thus, the support of the FARM project to revitalise this project by increasing the financial and human resources will enable the countries to reclaim their territory in a sustainable manner.

CAADP is part of the Agenda 2063 aspiration to help African countries eliminate hunger and reduce poverty. The programme, under the FARM initiative, will be upgraded and expanded to foster economic growth by developing the agricultural sector through increased national budgetary allocations to the sector. The aim is for African countries to devote at least 10% of their national budgets to agriculture and rural development and achieve an agricultural growth rate of at least 6% per year. The African Union is emphasising African ownership and leadership to pave the way for more sustainable agricultural change.

The Plant Protein Plan was created following the launch of the Great Green Wall Accelerator in January 2021 after the One Planet Summit. The aim of the plan is to speed up the transformation of African food systems to more sustainable models. The development of protein crops contributes to food security objectives and socio-economic development in the region. The initiative aims to strengthen sustainable plant protein value chains, with the long-term goal of agricultural self-sufficiency in Africa.

These three concrete actions of the FARM initiative are in line with a sustainable food and agricultural sovereignty approach for the African continent to reduce dependence on Ukrainian exports and thus minimise the consequences of the conflict on the continent.

3. Solidarity Corridors

The main objective of the corridors, set up by the European Commission, is to help Ukraine export its agricultural products through several concrete and joint actions, but also to import the goods the country needs. In May 2022 (when these corridors were set up), the European Commission (EC) Commissioner for Transport, Adina Valean, announced that 20 million tonnes of grain would have to leave Ukraine in less than 3 months in order to free up storage capacity for the 2022 harvest. Short and long-term solutions, such as corridors, are being organised in coordination with the Ukrainian authorities and EU members.

Firstly, solidarity corridors were set up to facilitate border crossings between Ukraine and EU member states. The European Commission has asked to make additional transport means available as a matter of urgency and to set up a logistical matching platform (EU-Ukraine Business Matchmaking Platform) as well as to designate corridor-specific contact points. The Commission also calls on infrastructure managers to prioritise agricultural exports from Ukraine by reserving rail slots for them, and on national authorities to show flexibility in speeding up procedures at border crossings. Finally, the Commission calls its members to coordinate to promote and facilitate the temporary storage of Ukrainian exports.

Another axis of the solidarity corridors focuses on the connections between the EU member states and Ukraine, with the aim in the medium term of increasing the infrastructure capacities of the new export corridors and establishing new infrastructure connections. In this perspective, on 10 May, talks were held on an agreement on road freight transport in the EU Member States, Ukraine and Moldova. In addition, the EC has also proposed to extend the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) to Ukraine and Moldova to enable both countries to obtain European funding for their infrastructure and to facilitate post-war reconstruction in Ukraine.

The Odessa Marine port in Ukraine with wheat containers ready for exportation. @George Chernilevsky
    4. Exemption from restrictive measures on exports of WFP purchases

On April 27th 2022, the EC presented a proposal for a European Parliament and Council Regulation, approved on 24 May, to introduce trade liberalisation measures over 1 year. Three measures are proposed:

  • The temporary suspension of all customs duties for industrial products, fruit and vegetables subject to the entry price system and agricultural products subject to tariff quotas
  • Temporary suspension of anti-dumping duties on imports originating in Ukraine
  • The temporary suspension of the common import regime for imports originating in Ukraine.

The primary aim of these measures is to promote trade flows between Ukraine and the EU and to create conditions for strengthening economic and trade relations with a view to the gradual integration of the country into the EU market.

In order to benefit from these measures, Ukraine commits itself to respect the rules of origin of products and procedures, not to introduce new duties, taxes or restrictions on imports originating in the EU (unless justified in the context of war), and to respect the principles of democracy, human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law.

In this context, the signing of an agreement on 22 July in Istanbul between Russia and Ukraine on the export of Ukrainian and Russian grain from Black Sea ports, thanks to the good offices of Turkey and under the direction of the UN, is a major decision which remains to be implemented in the long term.

Possible risks of the FARM project

While the adoption and implementation of the FARM project is the most important thing, it is also useful to anticipate the risks of malfunctioning that would affect its effectiveness. The Ukrainian conflict and the food crisis, not to mention the energy crisis, is creating tensions and adjustments between countries and reshaping the framework of international relations.  Therefore, the project will only be a success if the EU member states overcome the inconsistencies that often accompany decisions taken by the 27 member states. Moreover, there is a real risk of duplicating existing initiatives in the food and agricultural sectors. Indeed, since March, three initiatives similar to FARM’s have been launched: the Global Alliance on Food Security launched by Germany (holding the G7 presidency), the Roadmap for Global Food Security by the United States and the Global Crisis Response Group on Food, Energy and Finance announced by the United Nations. These initiatives show the interest and the need for concrete measures against food insecurity but underline the importance of good international coordination to optimise the FARM project.

In this context, civil society organisations are making proposals. In a press release, CCFD-Terre Solidaire states that “any real international response to the crisis will require more market regulation, more transparency on private stocks and a profound transformation of our trade system in favour of people’s food sovereignty. CCFD-Terre Solidaire, based on the government’s past experience with agricultural and food policy, also warns against making the same mistakes. The organisation recalls the launch of the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition by the G8 in 2012 in a similar crisis situation, which had similar objectives to those of FARM. The alliance relied on multinationals and allowed legislative changes liberalising land, seeds and taxation to the detriment of local producers. Faced with its lack of results, its limitations and the negative impacts it generated (land grabs, indebtedness of farmers, lack of accountability of the companies involved), Emmanuel Macron made the choice in 2018 to withdraw from it. It is therefore important to keep these considerations in mind during future evaluations and analyses of the FARM initiative.

Aid actors, both macro and micro, are concerned at various stages by this FARM project, which aims to limit the global food consequences of the war in Ukraine, particularly for the populations of the poorest countries already affected by other crises. With this article, Humanitarian Challenges aims to better inform aid actors in order to improve the effectiveness of aid for populations at risk. We would be grateful for any testimonies or information you may have about this FARM initiative.


Eva Miccolis in collaboration with Axel Bonnechaux.

Global Humanitarian Assistance Report 2021 – Key figures

The Global Humanitarian Assistance Report has been published for over 20 years by Development Initiatives.

It provides a detailed picture of international humanitarian assistance, based on extensive and accurate data. You will find here a summary of 4 of the 5 chapters of this report, the last one being the methodology.

Enjoy your reading!






Find access to the PDF of the full Development Initiatives report here.

Summaries of 2018, 2019 and 2020 GHARs can be found on the Humanitarian Challenges website, in the “Studies” section.

Chapitre 1: People and crisis

This first chapter takes stock of the extent of global poverty in four points. The central message is that the pandemic has both exacerbated existing needs and fueled new crises in countries that did not need humanitarian assistance, increasing the total volume of aid needed.

People living in extreme poverty are increasingly concentrated in fragile countries at high risk from the impacts of Covid-19

Source: Development Initiatives based on World Bank  PovcalNet, national sources, INFORM Index for COVID Risk and OECD.

  • People living in extreme poverty are increasingly concentrated in countries that are fragile and at high risk from the impacts of Covid-19. In 2020, 66% of people living in extreme poverty (less than $1.90/day) were also living in one of the 52 countries classified as fragile by the report, up from 40% in 2010. Poverty reduction is progressing overall but is very uneven and has increased by 8% in fragile states.


  • Acute food insecurity disproportionately affects the poorest and has been stimulated by the pandemic. The report estimates that more than 80% of people living in severely food insecure areas live below the international poverty line ($3.20/day).


  • The Covid-19 pandemic exacerbates humanitarian crises, with more people in more countries affected. The pandemic has exacerbated existing crises but has also been the main driver of humanitarian needs in some countries like Iran. The report estimates that 243.8 million people in 75 countries have been assessed as needing humanitarian assistance (224.9 million in 65 countries in 2019). High numbers of people in need remained concentrated in a small number of countries: more than half of those in need in 2021 lived in just nine countries.


  • The number of displaced people increased for the ninth consecutive year to 82.1 million (+3.4%). In 2020, 10 countries hosted 54% of IDPs, a similar proportion to 2019. Many IDPs are in situations of protracted displacement with no possibility of safe return to their homes.
    • 58% were forcibly displaced within the country;
    • 32% were refugees (26.3 million);
    • 5.1% were asylum seekers (4.2 million);
    • 4.4% (3.6 million) were Venezuelans displaced abroad.


20 countries with the largest forcibly displaced populations and risk of impacts from
Covid-19, 2019 and 2020

Source: Development Initiatives based on data from UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Index for Risk Management (INFORM) and Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC).

The report also makes two findings:

  • Women and girls in conflict zones are twice as likely to experience gender-based violence. This gap is likely to increase with the pandemic. The UN estimates that there will be 13 million early child marriages between 2020 and 2030 due to the pandemic.
  • The availability and delivery of covid vaccine has not been equitable, and countries experiencing a protracted crisis have some of the lowest single-dose vaccine coverage rates in the world (2.4% compared to 12.5% in other developing countries covered by COVAX).



Chapitre 2 : Humanitarian and wider crisis financing

In this chapter, the report highlights that in 2020 global humanitarian needs have increased faster than ever, while the growth of humanitarian aid has stalled. International humanitarian aid volumes had been growing steadily over the years 2012 to 2018 (12% per year on average), peaking in 2018 at $31.3 billion.

International humanitarian assistance, 2016–2020

Source: Development Initiatives based on Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC), UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Financial Tracking Service, UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and our unique dataset for private contributions.

Funding needs through UN-coordinated appeals were also following a steady increase (+90% compared to 2015). However, actual funding declined for the first time in 5 years. Of the $38.8 billion requested, $18.8 billion (including $5.7 billion related to covid) was not funded, compared to $11.1 billion in 2019.

Of the 55 calls in 2020, only 7 received 75% or more of the required funding. The number of calls with less than a quarter of the funding requirement met worsened significantly in 2020, with 17 calls receiving less than 25% coverage. In 2019, no calls were funded at less than 25%.


Funding and unmet requirements, UN-coordinated appeals, 2011–2020

Source: Development Initiatives based on UN OCHA FTS and UNHCR data

The UN-coordinated appeals do not represent all the needs, so significant funding is provided outside of the appeals. For example, in 2020, the needs of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) rose sharply to a record level of over 1 billion, while the funding gap continued to widen (58% coverage).

In addition, the role of the broader development community is increasingly important and countries in crisis now receive far more development funds than humanitarian funds.

Official Development Assistance (ODA) received by countries in crisis has thus increased from 47% of total ODA in 2010 ($51 billion) to 65% in 2019 ($94 billion). The proportion of ODA reported as humanitarian aid has doubled from 15% in 2010 ($7.6 billion) to 29% in 2019 ($27.2 billion).


ODA from multilateral development banks to the 20 largest recipients of humanitarian
assistance, 2010–2019

Source: Development Initiatives based on OECD DAC CRS

Multilateral development banks (MDBs) have become increasingly active in crisis contexts, providing increasing volumes of ODA to countries in crisis.

MDB disbursements to the 20 largest recipients of humanitarian assistance have doubled since 2014, from $5.4 billion to more than $10.7 billion in 2019. However, the share of disbursements in the form of grants has decreased significantly in favor of loans.

For the epidemic response, total MDB financing reached $120 billion in April 2021, 95% of which was in the form of loans. The IMF has been the largest contributor, committing $50.4 billion to date.

Finally, the total volume of ODA with disaster risk reduction as its primary objective has increased from $1.4 billion in 2018 to $1.9 billion in 2019.


Chapitre 3 : donors and recipients of humanitarian and wider crisis financing

This third chapter makes the key finding that most government donors increased their contributions in 2020, but significant reductions by a few key donors caused overall aid to stagnate.

The volume of international humanitarian aid from the top 20 government donors in 2020 stabilized at $23.1 billion. As in previous years, the top 20 public donors in 2020 contributed 96 percent of total international humanitarian aid allocations. The top three donors (US, Germany, and the UK) accounted for 61% of total donor contributions.


20 largest public donors of humanitarian assistance in 2020 and percentage change
from 2019

Source: Development Initiatives based on OCED Development Assistance Committee (DAC), UN OCHA Financial Tracking Service and UN Central Emergency Response Fund data

The largest donors to Covid-19 were the United States, Germany, and Japan.

It should also be noted that many donor countries also hosted exiles and that most government spending within their own borders is not accounted for. In the previous year, three countries accounted for nearly two-thirds of all in-country refugee spending: Germany (29 percent), the United States (21 percent), and France (13 percent).

Another important indicator highlighted in this chapter is the proportion of gross national income (GNI) devoted to international humanitarian assistance because it reflects the importance of humanitarian spending relative to the size of a country’s economy. Within this framework, five donors provided more than 0.1 percent of GNI as international humanitarian assistance in 2020, as shown in the following infographic.


20 donors providing the most humanitarian assistance as a percentage of GNI, 2020

Source: Development Initiatives based on OECD DAC, UN OCHA FTS, UN CERF, World Bank World Development Indicators and International Monetary Fund World Economic Outlook data

The proportion of total private funding from individuals continues to grow. For example, in 2019, international humanitarian aid from private donors increased by 9%, from US$6.2 billion in 2018 to a record $6.8 billion in 2019.

Sources of private international humanitarian assistance, 2015–2019

Source: Development Initiatives based on GHA’s unique dataset of private contributions.

While total international humanitarian aid stagnated, 112 countries received more than $5 million in humanitarian aid compared to 69 countries in 2019. One explanation is that the top 10 recipients received 57% of all funding or $13.3 billion (-11%) in 2020 compared to 66% ($15 billion) in 2019.

In addition, with $1.3 billion provided in response to the pandemic, these countries actually received $12.0 billion for other pre-existing or emerging humanitarian needs in 2020, $3.0 billion less than in 2019.

Overall, countries outside of the top 10 recipients received more funding in 2020 than in 2019, but less if those for Covid-19 are removed.

10 largest recipients of international humanitarian assistance, 2019–2020

Source: Development Initiatives based on UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Financial Tracking Service (FTS) data.


CHAPITRE 4 : funding for effectiveness and efficiency

According to this chapter, international humanitarian assistance would have been provided broadly in the same way in 2019 as in previous years: multilateral organizations received most of their funding from public donors, and NGOs from private donors.

Channels of delivery of international humanitarian assistance, 2019

Source: Development Initiatives based on Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC), UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Financial Tracking Service (FTS) and UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) data and Development Initiatives’ unique dataset for private contributions.

Local and national actors are often the first to respond to crises, especially since the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting restrictions on access. Commitments made at the Grand Bargain, an agreement among the largest donors and humanitarian agencies in 2016, included a global target of 25% of total international humanitarian aid transferred to local and national actors by 2020. Since then, while the absolute volumes of international humanitarian aid passed directly to local and national actors have increased, the scale of this aid falls far short of expectations.


Direct funding to local and national actors reporting to UN OCHA FTS, 2016–2020

Source: Development Initiatives based on UN OCHA FTS data

Pooled funds are an increasingly important part of humanitarian funding because of their responsiveness and flexibility. They consist of the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and the Country-based pooled fund (CBPF). Contributions to the UN pooled funds fell sharply in 2020 to $1.5 billion from a record $1.8 billion in 2019.

It should be noted, however, that the proportion of PBC funding to country organizations continues to grow despite the absolute decrease in CBPFs.




Total funding to UN-managed humanitarian pooled funds, 2011−2020

Source: Development Initiatives based on UN OCHA’s CBPF Grant Management System and UN CERF data.

Quality funds (multi-year, unearmarked funding as a proportion of total funding) are another option favored by the Grand Bargain. They should represent 30% of international humanitarian aid by 2020. While they have increased significantly in volume by 2020, as a proportion of total funding, they remain below 2016 levels.

Proportion of resources received by UN agencies reported as earmarked and unearmarked, 2016–2020

Source: Development Initiatives based on data provided bilaterally by UN agencies.

Multi-year funding is, according to the Grand Bargain, funding that lasts 24 months or more from the start date of the initial funding agreement. This method of funding provides implementing agencies with predictable resource levels that can allow for efficiencies and effectiveness by allowing them to plan ahead.

15 donors, which provided 84% of total government humanitarian assistance in 2020, allocated 42% (US$6.5 billion) of their multi-year humanitarian funding in 2020 compared to 50% (US$7.3 billion) in 2019.

Finally, the volume of humanitarian cash and voucher assistance (CVA) continued to grow in 2020 across all types of organizations. This method that can be rapidly deployed in suitable areas was often the modality chosen to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic.


Total funding for humanitarian cash and voucher assistance, 2015–2020

Source: Development Initiatives based on data collected with the help of the Cash Learning Partnership from implementing partners and on UN OCHA FTS data

To summarize, here are the key 2020 trends to remember:

– Humanitarian needs are growing: 243.8 million people living in 75 countries have been assessed as needing humanitarian assistance. The Covid-19 pandemic is exacerbating and creating humanitarian crises.

– While global humanitarian needs have grown faster than ever, the growth of humanitarian assistance has stalled. Appeal coverage rates are declining.

– Most government donors increased their contributions in 2020, but significant reductions from a small number of key donors have caused overall aid to stagnate. Overall, countries received less funding in 2020 than in 2019, particularly if those for Covid-19 are removed.

– The structure of international humanitarian assistance remains the same: Multilateral organizations received most of their funding from public donors, and NGOs from private donors. The funding commitments made at the Grand Bargain are far from being met.


Rodolphe Rouyer