Santiago, Chile. December 1, 2011. José Graziano da Silva ended this week his term as Regional Representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations for Latin America and the Caribbean, a position that he held from March 2006.
The Director-General elect of the Organization, who takes up office in January 2012, noted that, in recent years, Latin American and Caribbean countries have placed increasing emphasis on the fight against hunger and extreme poverty to tackle the crisis the world is going through.
“The regional uniqueness is precisely to have found answers that make social inclusion a new motor of growth,” said Graziano da Silva.
Graziano da Silva recalled the launch of the Hunger-Free Latin America and the Caribbean Initiative, supported by FAO, that transformed the region in the first one in the world to commit itself to the eradication of hunger by 2025. With a similar purpose, FAO also supported the creation of the Parliamentary Front against Hunger in Latin America and the Caribbean. Today, half of the countries in the region have a legal framework or are working on laws that promote food security and the right to food.
He also pointed out that the Regional Office has contributed to the creation of a wide range of initiatives to strengthen food security at the country and regional level. Among them are the incentives to the participation of civil society in the debate on rural development and food security, the recovery of traditional food staples in the regional diet, an emphasis on issues such as rural territorial development and rural labour markets, as well as increasing support to small-scale farming.
“Small-scale farming is part of the solution to overcoming hunger and promoting development in Latin America and the Caribbean,” he said.
“Finding ways to link local food production and consumption is one of the most important aspirations of today’s development policies”, added Graziano da Silva, giving as an example the local purchases of small-scale farming food products for use in school meal programmes.
To support the strengthening of agriculture and the fight against hunger, the Regional Office mobilized new resources for projects on food security, transboundary diseases and emergency responses, bringing aboard new donors such as New Zealand and Brazil.
Graziano da Silva added that this was not an isolated effort, but that FAO has been working closer with other regional and international organizations to achieve the goal of guaranteeing that development is fairer and more inclusive.
“Latin America and Caribbean countries are making an effort to reconcile the macroeconomics of growth with the imperative of social justice, in a learning process that can also be useful on a global scale,” concluded Graziano da Silva.