Director-General QU Dongyu

Agricola Medal Ceremony H.E. Abiy Ahmed Ali, Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Statement

by Dr QU Dongyu, FAO Director-General

28/01/2024 , Rome (Italy)

Your Excellency Abiy Ahmed, Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

Your Excellency Prosper Bazombanza, Deputy President of Burundi

Your Excellency Moussa Faki, Chairperson of the African Union Commission

My good friend Gerd Muller, Director-General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)


Ladies and Gentlemen,


I am pleased to welcome you to FAO this morning for this historic ceremony, not only for Ethiopia, but also for Africa because food security in Africa is a matter for the global agenda.

First and foremost, I wish to congratulate Your Excellency for your leadership, commitment, and passion, which have led to a big, historic revolutionary change of agrifood systems, and for rural development.

As well as for your Green Legacy Initiative. I am confident that in ten years’ time, Ethiopia will not only be prosperous, but also green, beautiful, and peaceful.

I am honoured to present His Excellency Abiy Ahmed Ali, Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, with the prestigious FAO Agricola Medal, the highest award of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations conferred by the FAO Director-General.

More specifically, you are the first Agricola Medal I confer since taking office, a truly deserved medal for you and your continent. A reflection of my close feelings for Ethiopia and Africa.

Since 1977, FAO has conferred the Agricola Medal to honour eminent world figures for their extraordinary role in undertaking outstanding and successful efforts in advancing the cause of global food security, poverty alleviation, nutrition, and rural development – especially the complex issues related to rural development.

We need a strong political commitment and passion to help people in the rural areas.

In support of FAO’s mandate to ensure humanity’s freedom from hunger as set out in the Preamble to the FAO Constitution.

Since taking office in 2018, His Excellency the Prime Minister has tirelessly pursued efforts to realize his vision for food security and nutrition, and economic development in Ethiopia and beyond, by identifying and implementing innovative solutions to address these critical global challenges.

From the presentation at the start of today’s event, we can see how truly remarkable this achievement has been. As a professional, technical Organization, FAO congratulates and appreciates the efforts that you have taken, together with the people of Ethiopia and all your partners, for realizing this vision and improving the lives of your people.

Your personal commitment to the successful Wheat for Food Self-Sufficiency programme in Ethiopia has been a source of inspiration in Africa, and globally.

I always say that in Africa you have your own solutions based on your local conditions and wisdom. For this reason, it is important to share your best practices with your African brothers and sisters first so you can learn and grow together.

In February 2023, Ethiopia undertook its first shipment of wheat exports to the international market - a successful model to be followed by other countries around the world.

Furthermore, in 2019 His Excellency the Prime Minister was conferred the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in ending the 20-year postwar situation between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

This is an important political recognition. For FAO, as a professional, technical organization we look at the technical achievements for achieving food security. Based on science and innovation, investments, and enabling policies.

The Prime Minister was also a former Minister for Science and Technology, thereby combining all three elements needed to make things happen on the ground: political will; technical capability; and science and technology.

Peace is a prerequisite for food security, and peace is crucial for the livelihoods of many Ethiopians who depend on agriculture.

Because when you move from the middle-low income to the middle and middle-high income countries, agrifood system transformation, industrialization and modernization are the only most cost-effective approaches, based on my understanding during the past 45 years in China.

Moving from USD 3 000 per capita to USD 8 000 per capita depends on agrifood systems transformation, rural development, and labour-intensive industries.

Today, we also wish to recognize His Excellency’s focus on transforming Ethiopia’s agrifood systems for improved nutrition, through the establishment of the national pathway Vision 2030: Transforming Ethiopian Food Systems, supported by an Inter-Ministerial Task Force on Food Systems to scale up the transformation of national agrifood systems.  

I have visited Ethiopia twice over the past five years and have personally witnessed the change: from infrastructure to agro-industries, and in wheat production. With the best-scaled improvement of infrastructure, irrigation systems, marketing, and seeds technologies. This is truly admirable.

His Excellency is also playing a crucial role in Ethiopia’s commitment to a green economy through his personal leadership exemplified by the Green Legacy Initiative, which aims to plant 25 billion seedlings across the country, which is very much in line with the FAO Green Cities Initiative I launched during the UN General Assembly in 2020.

We need Members to take ownership and leadership to support and implement the Green Cities Initiative – which represents the future cities in Africa and in other developing countries. We need to integrate agrifood systems with urbanization.

I appreciate Your Excellence’s leading role in this regard. Not many people realize what you have done to achieve this long-term vision – because you need 10 or 100 years to grow a tree!

This is something that really touches me personally, because when I was a local leader in China about 20 years ago, we started designing the forest park. Now after 18 years, people benefit from that, and they did not know that when we started planting the seedlings!

It was a very long investment, but now people benefit from the Green Cities Initiative, the green park, the forest park.

I can already see the future of the Green Legacy Initiative, which will make Ethiopia an attractive green country.

It is therefore and honour and a privilege for me as FAO Director-General to invite His Excellency Abiy Ahmed Ali, Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, to join me at the podium to receive the FAO Agricola Medal,

In recognition of his contribution and commitment to the wellbeing of all people, and for his unwavering support towards FAO’s fundamental mandate of attaining global food security, and the pursuit of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Let us produce more with less.

Let us do more and better for people and the planet.

Your Excellency, I now invite you to join me here at the podium.