African Union honours FAO’s Director-General for contribution to Zero Hunger vision in Africa

Graziano da Silva receives recognition for supporting food security, nutrition and sustainable food systems in Africa; dedicates award to former Brazilian President Lula da Silva

11 February 2019, Addis Ababa – The African Union (AU) today awarded FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva with a special certificate of recognition for his contribution towards the eradication of hunger in Africa and the sustainable development of the continent’s agriculture sectors.

“His (Graziano da Silva’s) passion for the Zero Hunger vision and relentless leadership is an inspiration for Africa,” the AU Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, Josefa Sacko, said at the award ceremony.

Describing the FAO Director-General as “one of the world’s architects of the Zero Hunger concept,” the AU Chairperson noted that this was “a powerful brand that is now reflected within the global Sustainable Development Goals” and that “the right to adequate food can and must be part of the continent’s reality.”

Sacko highlighted how, back in 2013, the fight against hunger and its underlying causes, especially acute poverty, became a top priority in Graziano da Silva’s home country, Brazil, which has served as an example for many nations. He noted how the Zero Hunger programme in Brazil and its subsequent social policies, such as Bolsa Familia, managed to reduce hunger from 11 percent of its population (about 19 million people) in the early 2000s to less than 2.5 percent in the 2010 triennium. All this in less than ten years,” he noted.

Graziano da Silva expressed his gratitude to the AU saying: “This recognition is a collective encouragement to keep the Zero Hunger vision at the top of African minds and hearts.” The FAO Director-General in his acceptance speech, noted how hunger remains a problem in Africa with recent estimates showing that conflicts, exacerbated with climate hazards, have reverted the progress made in achieving food security and better nutrition in many countries, especially in Africa.

“There is also an additional, serious challenge,” he warned. “Once known for the scourge of its stunting children, Africa is now known as the continent with more overweight and obese people in the world,” he highlighted.

“As part of these new challenges, we need to consider that there is no Zero Hunger solution for the future generations in Africa without stimulating its youth to stay, work and live in rural areas,” Graziano da Silva stressed. 

Award dedicated to former Brazilian President Lula

Concluding his statement, Graziano da Silva hailed former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, with whom he “shared this recognition from the African Union” as his “greatest inspiration for the  zero hunger vision, FAO DG stated.

First International Food Safety Conference

The ceremony took place ahead of the First International Food Safety Conference organized by the African Union (AU), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
The two-day conference will gather participants from over 130 countries, including ministers of agriculture, health, and trade. Leading scientific experts, partner agencies and representatives of consumers, food producers, civil society organizations and the private sector are also taking part.

Photo: ©FAO
FAO Director General receiving the award from the African Union Chairperson, accompanied by the AU Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, Josefa Sacko