FAO and Peace Winds Japan has agreed to join forces in Banda Aceh

23 April, Banda Aceh, Indonesia - In a meeting between Jean-Jacques Franc de Ferriere, FAO Area Coordinator for Banda Aceh and Cameron Noble, Country Director, Peace Winds Japan (PWJ) on 22 April, FAO and Peace Winds Japan Indonesia agreed to prepare a Letter of Agreement on future cooperation.

The partnership with Japanese Peace Winds Japan, a good community based NGO (Non-Governmental Organization), has agreed to distribute the much needed rice seeds being provided through a donation by the People of Japan to the local communities in Banda Aceh. A total of 174 tons of rice bags are currently in the process of being transported from a FAO warehouse in Medan, along the 562 kilometres trip up to Banda Aceh.

The first 175 FAO hand tractors, bought with funds donated by the Kingdom of Belgium, will also be distributed by Peace Winds Japan to the tsunami affected farmers in the Banda Aceh region.

Peace Winds Japan is dedicated to the support of people in distress, threatened by conflict, poverty, or other turmoil. With its headquarters in Japan, Peace Winds Japan has been active in various parts of the world, specialised in the distributing of "non food kits", such as agriculture training, livelihood programs for women, microfinance, re-building aquaculture ponds (tambaks) and rehabilitation of affected areas, all areas of FAO expertise.

"We are an organisation that likes to go into difficult areas. We have currently been in Indonesia for the past two months and have set up livelihood programs, such as agricultural training for 160 people. We now are in the process of setting up livelihood workshops with a local NGO, for more than 300 women, teaching them how to make cigars, cakes and ceremonial umbrellas," Cameron Noble, Country Director, Peace Winds Japan .

With its bases in Banda Aceh and Meulaboh, Peace Winds Japan is the second Japanese NGO slated to work closely with FAO in the tsunami area. Another is the Organization for Industrial, Spiritual and Cultural Advancement- International (OISCA International) that is expected to set up an office at the FAO premises in Banda Aceh in May 2005.

"We have also identified a need for agricultural tools for approximately 1892 families," concluded Mr. Noble.

A project which FAO could assist with, as a need has already been established.

FAO is also seeking to coordinate activities for a community based "early warning system" in Meulaboh, an area which was badly destroyed by the tsunami. Other projects are still in the process of being discussed.