Director-General  QU Dongyu

FAO and the Parliamentary Front against Hunger in Latin America and the Caribbean discuss ways to strengthen collaboration

05/10/2020

5 October 2020, Santiago/Rome – FAO Director-General QU Dongyu today met the Regional Coordinator of the Parliamentary Front against Hunger (PFH) in Latin America and the Caribbean, Jairo Flores, who is also a Deputy of the Congress in Guatemala, to discuss ways of strengthening the collaboration between FAO and Parliaments in the region to fight poverty, hunger and malnutrition. The Deputy Coordinator of PFH for the Caribbean, Hamlet Sánchez Melo, Deputy of the National Congress in the Dominican Republic, also attended the meeting.

From the outset, the Director-General praised the efforts and achievements of the Parliamentary Front in enacting laws, promoting awareness and mobilizing resources in the pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly SDGs 1 (poverty) and 2 (hunger). Qu highlighted the substantial challenges facing specific countries in the region, especially in the Caribbean and Central America, but also noted with great concern that the region as a whole has been affected by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Jairo Flores reinforced PFH’s commitment to help end hunger and malnutrition by 2030. He pointed out that the Parliamentary Front has been not only focused on the approval of laws and budgets related to hunger and malnutrition, but more and more on the inspection of public financial resources.  

Flores also mentioned that the Parliamentary Front has been working with partners outside the region, particularly from Europe, and showed great interest on how parliamentarians could enhance their engagement with FAO under the Hand-in-Hand Initiative. 

The Director-General explained that the Hand-in-Hand Initiative is country owned and country-led, and that it can add great value in the elaboration of public policies to boost production, trade and growth, especially through big data collection and analysis. 

Qu stressed that enabling policies, including tax and land policies, are key to help farmers, attract investments and boost food production through science, research and innovation. In this context, he pointed out that a change in the business model needs to start from within – “countries need to change locally first”. 

The Director-General also mentioned that parliamentarians can play a critical role, “through their soft power”, in building a platform for public-private partnerships and reaching out to international financial institutions. 

In order to generate better national incomes, Qu suggested that countries could focus on specific cash crops that they have and which give them a comparative advantage. This way, countries would be in a better condition to increase their gains in international markets.

In this context, the Director-General instructed FAO officials to work closely together with governments and the Parliamentary Front to develop concrete proposals aimed at helping countries to improve value chains related to cash crops. 

Deputy Hamlet Sánchez Melo from the Dominican Republic listed some actions taken by the PFH to support governments in addressing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and asked the support of FAO to enhance partnerships with institutions from other regions.

To conclude, Qu talked about the great importance that FAO has been attaching to supporting Small Island Developing States (SIDS), Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Landlocked Developed Countries (LLDCs) since he took office in August 2019. 

The meeting was also attended by FAO Deputy Director-General Beth Bechdol, Chief Economist Maximo Torero, the Regional Representative for Latin America and the Caribbean Julio Berdegue, and the Director of the Office of SIDS, LDCs and LLDCs Angélica Jácome Daza.

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