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Chilean President awarded Ceres Medal

FAO Director-General awards top honor in fight against hunger

9 March 2009, Santiago, Chile/Rome – The President of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, has received the Ceres Medal from FAO in honor of her country’s progress in promoting agriculture in the fight against hunger.

During a ceremony at the La Moneda Presidential Palace, FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf handed the award to President Bachelet, noting that Chile is one of the countries which are on track to meeting the 1996 World Food Summit commitment to halve the number of people who suffer from hunger, in keeping with the first Millennium Development Goal.

“I am deeply grateful that Your Excellency has given agriculture the importance that it deserves and has recognized the fundamental role that the agricultural sector plays as a necessary prerequisite for national development,” Diouf said as he presented the award to Chile’s first elected woman president.

“At the same time, Your Excellency has worked diligently to improve food security and the welfare of all Chilean citizens, men and women alike,” the FAO chief added.

Inspired by the Roman goddess of agriculture, the Ceres Medal is the top award given by FAO to distinguished women who have made outstanding contributions to agricultural development and food security. Previous recipients include Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Queen Sofia of Spain, the former President of Panama, Mireya Moscoso, and the anthropologist and former First Lady of Brazil, Ruth Cardoso.

"I am sincerely thankful for this award which FAO has given me. The truth is I receive it with great pride, but also fully aware that its really addressed to our country, as it recognizes its advances in all of those areas that are important parts of FAO's mission, particularly the promotion of agricultural development and food security, " President Bachelet said on receipt of the award.

Global efforts against hunger fare worse

Diouf’s visit occurs during a critical time in the fight against hunger and the promotion of global food security. In spite of global efforts, FAO’s latest estimates reveal that the world’s undernourished population has increased from 842 million people in 1990 to 963 million in 2008. The bulk of the increase occurred mainly between 2005 and 2008, when 115 million people were pushed into hunger because of rising food prices and the financial and economic crisis.

During his 6-8 March visit to Chile, the Director General also held meetings with the Minister of Agriculture, Marigen Hornkohl, and the Minister of Foreign Relations, Alejandro Foxley, to discuss cooperation and other areas of common interest.

FAO in Chile

FAO and Chile have worked together closely for more than 30 years. In February 1978, an agreement was signed with the Chilean Government to establish the Representation of FAO in Chile, and since 1952, Chile has hosted FAO’s Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Photo: ©FAO/...
FAO's Jacques Diouf awards Ceres Medal to Chilean President Michelle Bachelet