11 June 2012, Rome - Falling food prices due to good harvests and increases in stocks should mean a reduction in the number of hungry in the world in 2012, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva told the opening session of the Organization's governing Council today.
"That means that we should expect a reduction in the number of hungry people in the world in 2012," he said.
Nevertheless, Graziano da Silva warned that the food security situation in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa was still in a critical state. He thanked countries that placed Africa and food security among their top priorities and called on developing countries to step up their cooperation as well.
He praised the response of the international community to the recent famine in Somalia. "In Somalia, a combination of good rains and coordinated and dedicated efforts of the international community, including the work FAO did with our sister agency World Food Programme and UNICEF, allowed us to overcome famine conditions in only six months," he said.
However, Graziano da Silva warned that the gains in Somalia are still fragile and that a sustained effort was needed to prevent a repetition of such a tragedy.
Graziano da Silva, who took office in January, asked the Council to approve reform measures he has put forward.
"At this session you will discuss issues that will determine FAO's future capacity to contribute to a food-secure world. They include decentralization, further adjustments to the programme of work and budget, and FAO's strategic direction," he said.
Measures include restructuring parts of the Organization and transferring many headquarters services and staff to FAO country offices to be closer to the problems of underdevelopment and hunger.
The Council, which meets until Friday, is composed of representatives of FAO member countries. Elected by the FAO Conference, the Organization's top governing body, Council members meet every six months to carry out executive oversight of programme and budgetary activities.