Uberlandia, Brazil, December 20, 2011. The Zero Hunger programme contributed to lift 28 million people out of poverty between 2003 and 2010, said former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in a message read at the ceremony in which FAO Director-General Elect José Graziano da Silva received the Doctor Honoris Causa from the Federal University of Uberlandia.
“[The election] is the recognition of the excellent results we have achieved in the fight against hunger in Brazil”, said former President Lula, that could not attend the ceremony held on December 12, 2011, because of the medical treatment for cancer he is being submitted to.
In 2003, Graziano da Silva was chosen by President Lula to head the newly created Special Ministry for Food Security and the Fight Against Hunger and to implement the Zero Hunger programme, responsible for putting hunger and poverty as the top priority of the government.
Graziano da Silva led the design of the Zero Hunger Programme, a collective effort in which over 100 people participated in, and that was a result of the Citizenship Caravans. During these caravans, that took place between 1993 and 2001, Graziano da Silva, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and a few others travelled over 90 thousand kilometres to see first hand the problems that Brazilians were facing to be able to propose ways to move forward.
Graziano da Silva’s willingness to take his academic knowledge to the field and transform it into public policies at the service of the needy, was one of his traits highlighted by Professor Antonio Cesar Ortega, that introduced him at the ceremony.
From Spain, the Director of the Advanced Social Studies Institute of Andalucia, Eduardo Moyano Estrada, also sent his message.
This past week, Graziano da Silva also met with the High Level Expert Panel of the Committee of Food Security, and was honoured with Special Sessions of the House of Representatives of Brazil and of the State of Sao Paulo, attended by representatives of the government, congressmen, civil society and the private sector.
“We know that hunger is a social phenomenon”, said Federal Representative Assis do Couto during the session held at the Brazilian Congress. “We must find new says to fight inequality and social injustice”, he added, speaking of the challenges the world faces.
Graziano da Silva will spend Christmas with his family in Brazil before taking up office on January 1, 2012. “I look forward to working together with FAO Member States, staff members and external partners to overcome hunger and promote sustainable agriculture”, said the Director-General Elect.