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Volume 884: debated on Tuesday 21 January 1975

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asked the Minister of Overseas Development whether, following the World Food Conference in Rome, the Government propose to double their contribution of fertilisers to the poorest countries and to help meet the cost of the 1 million tons of grain which these countries need.

I expect to spend about £20 million on food aid in this financial year. Of this, £18 million is our share of the cost of the supply and delivery of 1·27 million tonnes of cereals and smaller quantities of other products being provided as EEC food aid. About £1·8 million has been provided by Britain for the World Food Programme. We are using all our influence to see that the neediest countries receive a major part of the grains to be made available over the coming year.Particularly difficult problems exist over the supply of fertilisers. Because we import much of our fertiliser, there are limits to what Britain can do directly in the short term. Nevertheless, we have promised 25,000 tons to the FAO international fertiliser supply scheme and have recently provided 10,000 tons for Bangladesh under bilateral aid. Together with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry and the United Kingdom Fertiliser Manufacturers' Association, I am considering what more can be done to help those developing countries most seriously affected. Furthermore, as part of our aid to food production we help developing countries to create or improve their own sources of fertiliser supply. For example, since 1970 Britain has committed over £25 million in capital aid to India alone for this purpose.