The African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Monday awarded FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva with a special certificate of recognition for his contribution towards the eradication of hunger in Africa and the sustainable development of the continent’s agriculture sectors.
“His (Graziano da Silva’s) passion for the Zero Hunger vision and relentless leadership is an inspiration for Africa,” the AU Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, Josefa Sacko, said at the award ceremony.
Describing the FAO Director-General as “one of the world’s architects of the Zero Hunger concept,” the AU Chairperson noted that this was “a powerful brand that is now reflected within the global Sustainable Development Goals” and that “the right to adequate food can and must be part of the continent’s reality.”
Sacko highlighted how, back in 2013, the fight against hunger and its underlying causes, especially acute poverty, became a top priority in Graziano da Silva’s home country, Brazil, which has served as an example for many nations. He noted how the Zero Hunger programme in Brazil and its subsequent social policies, such as Bolsa Familia, managed to reduce hunger from 11 per cent of its population (about 19 million people) in the early 2000s to less than 2.5 per cent in the 2010 triennium. All this in less than ten years,” he noted.
Graziano da Silva expressed his gratitude to the AU saying: “This recognition is a collective encouragement to keep the Zero Hunger vision at the top of African minds and hearts.” The FAO Director-General in his acceptance speech noted how hunger remains a problem in Africa with recent estimates showing that conflicts, exacerbated with climate hazards, have reverted the progress made in achieving food security and better nutrition in many countries, especially in Africa.
“There is also an additional, serious challenge,” he warned. “Once known for the scourge of its stunting children, Africa is now known as the continent with more overweight and obese people in the world,” he highlighted.
“As part of these new challenges, we need to consider that there is no Zero Hunger solution for the future generations in Africa without stimulating its youth to stay, work and live in rural areas,” Graziano da Silva stressed.
An award dedicated to former Brazilian President Lula
Concluding his statement, Graziano da Silva hailed former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, with whom he “shared this recognition from the African Union” as his “greatest inspiration for the zero hunger vision, FAO DG stated.