Boosting food security knowledge in Latin America and the Caribbean

More than 220 universities join FAO to expand learning opportunities and improve policies

Rome, 28 February 2014 – A new educational partnership will soon be putting knowledge into the hands of thousands of professionals working in food security and nutrition in Latin America and the Caribbean. Individuals and institutions will be able to gain access to a broad suite of online courses to develop their capacity to improve policies and programmes.

The initiative will offer a new Master’s programme in Food Security, in addition to e-learning courses currently offered by FAO. The programme partnership will target current and potential policymakers through a vast network of over 220 universities in the region.

With the support of the European Union (EU), FAO has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Association of Universities of Latin America and the Caribbean (UDUAL) to develop the education programme.

FAO and UDUAL will work with the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) to develop the curricula. Rollout of the new courses is slated for January 2015.

The aim is to further develop the capacities of a wide range of food security professionals, including nutritionists, statisticians, market analysts and others who work primarily in government ministries and institutions. E-learning tools will also be available to farmers, traders and agriculture workers interested in the subjects covered.

“With this partnership we will make a major contribution to developing the capacity of professionals and practitioners in Latin America and the Caribbean to address food security issues,” said Marcela Villarreal, Director of FAO's Office Office for Partnerships, Advocacy and Capacity Development. "This is a very cost effective and meaningful way to contribute to the fight against hunger in the region.”

“This new partnership will link regional expertise with FAO’s global perspective and knowledge,” said Maria Helena Semedo, FAO Assistant Director-General. “It will allow us to reach more people, more quickly, helping them to design effective nutrition and food security policies and programmes, and ultimately, helping them to improve lives. Scaling up food and nutrition policies is crucial if the continent wants to eradicate hunger by 2025.”

“Directly training every policy maker is simply impossible,” said Lloyd Day, Deputy Director-General of IICA, “since traditional learning requires significant expense in travel, resources and time. But with e-learning we can reach those individuals and trainers of trainers who otherwise could not afford to take advantage of these courses.”

Day added that the more people reached, the more successful this initiative will be in “developing the capacities of individuals and governments to base decisions on sound science and accepted policy to help provide safe and less expensive food to a hungry world.”

“To me, this agreement is about how knowledge and policy can join together to provide solutions to food insecurity,” said Roberto Escalante, Secretary-General of UDUAL. “Good policies are informed by knowledge. Universities joining forces with organizations, like FAO and IICA, to build knowledge on food security represent a great way to address hunger.”

The EU consistently supports FAO in development of its current roster of e-learning courses on food security. The EU and FAO are partnering under the Improved Global Governance for Hunger Reduction programme, working with countries to improve nutrition, strengthen resilience and enhance food security. The programme emphasizes the value of inclusive dialogue, accurate information and regional and national policy processes in the design of policies and programmes.

To learn more about FAO’s e-learning courses on food security see:

Photo: ©FAO/Giulio Napolitano
The courses are being designed primarily for food security professionals like government statisticians, nutritionists and others.