1993 European Footballer of the Year, Baggio, traveled to Peru as part of the “Professional Football Against Hunger” Campaign, a joint initiative of the Association of European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL), FAO and the Humanitarian Aid Department of the European Commission (ECHO). This campaign seeks to raise awareness of the unacceptable levels of hunger in the world.
During his visit to the Matinga and Quillihuay communities in the Cusco region on 11 May, Baggio met with small-scale farmers and alpaca breeders who have benefited from ECHO and FAO support. “The assistance given to these families has helped them to recover from the terrible tragedy they suffered,” said the footballer. “I am happy to have spent time with them and to be a part of this joint effort between FAO and the European Union”, he added.
Through the distribution of quality seeds, tools and veterinary medicines, the repairing of irrigation canals, the recovery of damaged land, and the provision of technical assistance, a FAO project funded by ECHO has allowed over 10 000 families to rebuild their livelihoods and agricultural and livestock production systems, lost during the January 2010 floods.
“The beneficiaries of this FAO project, funded by the Humanitarian Aid Department of the European Commission are small-scale farmers and livestock breeders who depend on their crops and animals to survive. This is one of Peru’s poorest areas,” said Alvaro De Vicente, in charge of ECHO’s Office for South America.
“The European Commission considers its partnership with FAO as fundamental,” added De Vicente. “Most of our funding in South America is destined to emergency response and food aid. FAO brings the key technical know-how that is essential for providing effective agricultural assistance to farmers, as well as important knowledge on how to protect and adapt crops, stabilize soil and manage water,” he explained. “Our objective is, on the one hand to help the victims recover, and on the other to reduce future risks.”
After returning from his visit to the Cusco region, Baggio spent time with children from Oscar Ibanez’s Football School, in Lima where he demonstrated the football skills which have made him one of the sport’s legendary figures.