Bev Oda Strengthened Canada’s Commitment to Food Security

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Foodgrains Bank looks forward to working with Julian Fantino, new Minister for International Cooperation

By Jim Cornelius

When Bev Oda announced in early July that she would step down as Minister of International Cooperation, and retire as a Member of Parliament, much of the media coverage focused on her missteps. At the Foodgrains Bank, we think her accomplishments, particularly in the area of food security, should not be forgotten.

Under Ms. Oda’s leadership, CIDA fully untied food aid, making it both cheaper and faster to get food to people in need. CIDA also made food security a priority theme for Canada’s aid, and it doubled its investment in agriculture in developing countries—an important increase, since most hungry people in the developing world still depend on agriculture for much of their livelihoods.

During her time as Minister, Ms. Oda developed a strong working relationship with the World Food Program and Canadian Foodgrains Bank—the two primary partners through which Canada delivers its food aid program. During the food crisis in 2008, she provided significant additional funding to help those most affected by the rapid rise in the price of food.

As she leaves office, the Foodgrains Bank conveys our well-wishes to Ms. Oda. We look forward to working with her successor, Julian Fantino, and will be urging him to build on her efforts to make food security a priority at CIDA.

Like Ms. Oda, he arrives in office without much background in international development. We invite our supporters to pray that he will receive wisdom as he learns about his new responsibilities, and that he will make a positive difference for poor and hungry people in the developing world.

Jim Cornelius is Executive Director of the Foodgrains Bank.

Image: Beverley J. Oda, former Minister of International Cooperation, with Jim Cornelius, Executive Director, Canadian Foodgrains Bank.