LONDON — The Russian Federation has become a member of the Food Assistance Convention of the International Grains Agreement, committing to provide $15 million of food assistance annually. Russia thus becomes the ninth country or bloc committing to the convention. While obviously a move to assert Russia’s role as a major grain exporter, its pledge contrasts with the U.S. commitment totaling $1.6 billion.

At the $15 million level, Russia’s food aid pledge is the second smallest of member parties, with Finland’s €6 million ($8.1 million) only less. Other Food Aid Convention commitments are: Austria, €1,495,000; Canada, C$250 million; Denmark, DKK185 million; European Union, €300 million; Japan, JPY10 billion; Switzerland, 34 million Swiss francs.

In entering into its commitment in an effort that has been under way for decades, the Russian Cabinet issued this statement:

“Russia’s participation in the convention will emphasize its status as a donor country and confirm its intention to fulfill decisions taken on providing assistance in ensuring global food security and the fight against hunger in the world.”

Membership in the Food Assistance Convention is open to all countries able to provide food assistance. Each member determines its annual food aid commitment in terms of money or in quantities to be shipped as aid. A long series of such conventions have been operated under the auspices of the International Grains Council, beginning in 1967. The current Food Assistance Convention replaced the Food Aid Convention expiring in 1999.

The current convention, like its predecessors, aims “to save lives, reduce hunger, improve food security and improve the nutritional status of the most vulnerable populations.”

Those goals are to be achieved by the following actions:

  • Addressing the food and nutritional needs of the most vulnerable by the convention parties providing food assistance that improves access to, and consumption of, adequate, safe and nutritious food.
  • Ensuring that the aid provided is appropriate, timely, effective, efficient, and is based on needs and shared principles.
  • Facilitating information-sharing, cooperation and coordination, while providing a forum for discussing the best ways to respond to these needs.
The present Food Assistance Convention entered into force as of Jan. 1, 2013.