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Graziano da Silva meets The Netherland’s Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation

Minister Ploumen stresses the importance of partnering with the private sector, civil society and research institutions in the fight against hunger
©FAO/Giulio Napolitano.
Graziano da Silva meeting Lilianne Ploumen, Minister for Trade and Development of The Netherlands.

25 February 2014, Rome- FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva thanked The Netherlands’ Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Lilianne Ploumen for the country’s long-standing financial and intellectual contributions and support to the Organization’s work as the two leaders met for the first time at FAO headquarters today.

Graziano da Silva thanked Minister Ploumen for the flexibility of the contributions by the Government of the Netherlands, as the country is a pioneer in providing un-earmarked funds for the strategic work of FAO.

The Netherlands is one of FAO’s traditional financial and intellectual partners. The Netherlands-funded project portfolio managed by FAO includes emergency and development programmes.

The two principals discussed three focal priorities for the Netherlands, namely access to nutrition by women, land governance and setting effective post-2015 targets.

The Minister reiterated the importance of gender for the food security agenda. The Director-General agreed and noted that gender was a cross cutting issue for FAO and is being mainstreamed into all its areas of work.

Partnerships, at the heart of FAO’s mission for a world without hunger

Graziano da Silva raised the importance of involving the private sector and civil society organizations in FAO’s work. He highlighted the positive work carried out by the Dutch Permanent Representative to FAO, current Chair of the Committee on Food Security (CFS), on the Principles for Responsible Agricultural Investments (RAI) which are expected to be approved in the upcoming CFS meeting in October.

“It is encouraging to see that the FAO Director-General attaches great importance to partnering with the private sector, civil society and research institutions in the fight against hunger and malnutrition ,” the Minister said, referring to the new FAO Strategy for Partnerships with Civil Society and the FAO Strategy for Partnerships with the Private Sector.

Both leaders also agreed on the importance of ensuring smallholders have access to markets. “The challenge is to help organize smallholders to empower them,” the Minister said. Graziano da Silva highlighted the need to support family farmers through domestic policies, in line with the EU’s approach.

“The Netherlands is the second largest exporter of agri-food products worldwide,” the Minister said, underlining “the important role that Dutch companies can play in FAO’s new strategy to work with the private sector”. 

“Combining aid and trade is key for development,” the Minister added.

Last September FAO and the Netherlands-based Rabobank Foundation signed an agreement to work on development projects in Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania aimed at improving the income of smallholder farmers. An agreement was also recently signed with Wageningen University, which will enable students to get involved in field work and prepare for their future professional lives.

Graziano da Silva has also recently met with Paul Polman, CEO of the British-Dutch company Unilever.  FAO and Unilever – which works directly with over 1.3 million smallholder farmers worldwide –  are exploring a global partnership agreement to join forces in the fight against hunger with emphasis on support to smallholder farmers.

Watch the video interview with The Netherland's Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Lilianne Ploumen.