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FAO urges G20 to keep food security on development agenda

First-ever address by an FAO Director-General to the G20 Leaders’ Summit

San José del Cabo, México, 19 de junio 2012 - FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva urged world leaders to maintain food and nutritional security as a priority on the G20 agenda in the years to come.

Speaking during the plenary of the G20 Leaders' Summit, Graziano da Silva said: "Hunger is a persistent problem affecting over 900 million human beings worldwide", adding: "The efforts of all G20 members to improve food security must be similarly persistent, even in times of financial crisis."

During his address, the FAO chief highlighted the priority given to food security by the Mexican Presidency of the G20, as well as the inclusion on the group's agenda of the goal of reducing the productivity gap that separates small farmers from large agricultural producers.

"Close to 500 million small-scale farmers constitute the backbone of food production, yet often lack the means to support themselves," he said.

Graziano da Silva's speech marked the first time an FAO General-Director has addressed the G20 Leaders' Summit.

On behalf of the Rome-based UN organizations (FAO, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and the World Food Programme, WFP), Graziano da Silva stated that "increasing support to smallholders can help transform a sector that is frequently seen as part of the hunger problem into part of the solution."

Prior to the Summit, FAO -- along with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) -- led the work of 12 international organizations that provided the G20 with recommendations on how to increase agricultural productivity in a sustainable way.

The organizations recommended an approach that benefits small-scale producers and increases investment in research and development as well as in infrastructure.

They also underlined that it is necessary to provide small farmers with support so they can adopt and benefit from existing technologies, as well as gain more access to productive resources.

In his remarks, the Director-General insisted on the need for long-term commitments to promote food security, "especially in times of crises and uncertainty such as these".

During his stay in Los Cabos, Graziano da Silva also addressed the B20 (Business 20) Task Force on Food Security, underlining the necessity of increasing investment in agriculture, with special emphasis on initiatives that target small-scale farmers.

Such intervention models must respond to the necessities of both countries and investors, be evidence-based and include civil society, producer organizations and the private sector, he said.