Indian institutions award FAO Director-General for efforts to promote food security

India well positioned to take global role in post-2015 push to eradicate hunger, improve nutrition worldwide

8 September 2014, New Delhi, India – Today FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva was named Doctor Honoris Causa by the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) and made a Fellow of India's National Academy of Agricultural Sciences (NAAS) during his first official mission to the country.

“This is truly a great honor,” said Graziano da Silva. “The NAAS and IARI have a rich history of contributing to agricultural development, responding to the challenges of yesterday and today, and bridging the academic world and concrete needs.

Graziano da Silva is only the 15th person to receive an IARI Doctor Honoris Causa in more than half a century, joining the ranks of Nobel Peace Prize winner Norman Borlaug and MS Swaminathan, who were instrumental in launching the Green Revolution in India in the late 1960s.

Zero Hunger

The awards were made in recognition of Graziano da Silva's commitment and contribution to improving food security in Brazil through the Zero Hunger program. 

“Zero Hunger was Brazil´s first step towards a new development model centered on social inclusion,” explained Graziano da Silva. 

By implementing a comprehensive set of actions that included strengthening social protection, increasing support to family farming and promoting social participation, Zero Hunger was the starting point of an effort that has since helped some 36 million Brazilians to overcome extreme poverty and hunger.

In 2012, Graziano da Silva brought this experience to the global stage when he took up office as FAO's Director-General.

In his acceptance speech, he noted that while FAO´s vision has remained the same since its founding, the obstacles that must be overcome to ensure food security and freedom from want are different today. FAO is adapting to respond to today´s challenges, focusing its work, opening up to partnerships and adopting a cross-cutting and holistic approach to help countries achieve food security and sustainable development.

“Simply producing more food is not enough,” Graziano da Silva said. “We need to increase production, sustainably, and ensure access for all. The solutions we need today might be different than those of decades ago, but to respond to these multiple and interconnected challenges we need to be as innovative as the Green Revolution was,” he added.

FAO and India – sharing knowledge, working together

During the official visit the FAO head is scheduled to meet with senior government representatives, including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Graziano da Silva pointed out that India has expertise, knowledge and capacity that can help advance global efforts against hunger. The country has already established state-of-the-art science and technology institutes and its agricultural research facilities attract researchers from across the Asia-Pacific region.

The FAO Director-General also cited the Green Revolution and India´s cooperative movement. “India can rightly claim to have the largest network of cooperatives in the world. For example, organizing poor farmers into cooperatives is a way to give them voice, power and improve their access to training, credit and markets,” he said.

Photo: ©FAO
José Graziano da Silva receiving the Doctor Honoris Causa by the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI)