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Director General  José Graziano da Silva

FAO head rallies Russia’s future agriculture experts for fight against hunger

Graziano da Silva addresses faculty at Moscow Timiryazev Agricultural Academy

24 June 2015, Moscow, Russian Federation - The next generation of Russia’s agricultural researchers and experts can play a major role in the global drive to end hunger and malnutrition – by developing and applying solutions to real-world food and agriculture problems. This was the rallying call of FAO Director-General Jose’ Graziano da Silva as he addressed faculty today at Moscow Timiryazev Agricultural Academy.

“Academia needs to move beyond its comfort zone” to make a concrete contribution to food security and sustainable development, Graziano said. “The challenge is to use the knowledge that you produce to support the actions that we need to fight hunger, adapt to and mitigate climate change, and promote sustainable development.”

Climate change is already having an impact on agriculture, he said. In colder climates like Russia, temperatures may rise and make more agricultural land available. But in tropical areas where most of the world’s poor and hungry live, availability of farmland and fresh water will decline. FAO’s primary concern is to help developing countries adapt to climate change in order to keep the capacity to feed every person, in a context of population grown, he said.

Innovation is urgently needed, Graziano said, “and this time, innovation means increasing the resilience and the sustainability of our food systems.” Options like climate-smart agriculture, agro-ecology and conservation agriculture are examples that point the way forward, he added.

Graziano accepted an honorary doctoral degree from Timiryazev Agricultural Academy, the country’s leading institution of higher education in agriculture. Established in 1865, the Academy has trained hundreds of thousands of specialists for both domestic and cross-border agriculture, including foreign citizens from Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas.

The opening of an FAO liaison office in Moscow is expected to strengthen ties between FAO and Russian academia and research community, and help tap the expertise that Russia can share with other countries, particularly in the region Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Caucasus.