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Declaración del Director General de la FAO José Graziano da Silva
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20 February 2014

 

Ministerial Meeting Italy-Africa on Agriculture

 

Your Excellencies,

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is an honor to participate in this meeting and a pleasure to see so many familiar faces.

I would like to point out that African leaders have put agriculture and food security at the center of the African development agenda.

In the end of January the African Union Summit launched the 2014 African Year of Agriculture and Food Security, marking the 10th Anniversary of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP).

The African Year takes place alongside the International Year of Family Farming, which FAO has the honor to coordinate on behalf of the United Nations.

Together, these two observances shine the spotlight on small-scale and family farmers who have a central role in food security.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The CAADP provides the framework for our action and FAO has been engaged in this process since it early days.

With the financial support from the Italian government and other partners, FAO has managed to support most of the African countries launching and implementing their CAADP compacts and Agriculture Investment Plans, for example, Cameroun, Djibouti, Ivory Coast, Lesotho, Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda.

This support has led to concrete results and additional resources for investment. Ethiopia, Gambia, Togo and Sierra Leone are among the African countries that have received funding from the Global Agriculture Food Security Program.

Italy and FAO have also worked closely with African institutions to promote rural development and build resilience in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel, two of the most critical regions in Africa.

And we are collaborating in the successful implementation of the Food Security through Commercialization of Agriculture Program in seven countries in Africa, including Burundi, Kenya and Rwanda.

The program has raised food availability, has contributed to a 30 percent increase in the income of over 120 thousand households, and has led to a 25 percent growth in employment opportunities, particularly for women and youth.

I would like to point out that promoting sustainable alternatives for Africa is important not only for Africa, but also for Europe.

Illegal border crossings are an issue of growing concern in Europe and can end in tragedy as the sad episode of Lampedusa reminds us.

It is our common responsibility to help build alternatives. Sustainable agricultural and rural development needs to be one of them. It is central to inclusive economic growth in Africa.

 

Ladies and gentlemen,

We have done a lot together. But there is still a lot to do. And we are moving ahead, individually and together.

Africa has placed food security and agriculture at the center of its development agenda.

FAO has reviewed its strategic framework and the way we do business to improve the focus of our efforts and better respond to the needs of Member States.

And the Government of Italy is presenting a blueprint on how to boost its cooperation with Africa, in the framework of the Italy-Africa Initiative.

This proposal puts an emphasis on small-scale farmers, aims to strengthen the agri-food sector, and believes in partnerships. FAO could not agree more with these points.

We believe that small-scale farming is at the heart of sustainable agricultural production. We believe that if we succeed in supporting small-scale and family farmers we will also succeed in promoting the sustainable development of local communities.

And we believe that we can achieve the goals that we propose. But only if we work together: governments, international organizations, the private sector, civil society and the farmers themselves.

Just last Monday, I participated in the launch of the 10 000 food orchards in Africa project, led by the Slow Food Movement and my friend Carlo Petrini. This is just one recent and innovative example of how cooperation can look.

To end, I want to reaffirm that you can always count on FAO. We look forward to continue working together with you.

Thank you very much for your attention.