Jose Graziano da Silva, who served as a regional official in the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization since 2006 will take the post of Director-General on Jan. 1, 2012. He beat out five other candidates during voting in the agency's headquarters in Rome.
Graziano da Silva will only be the eighth person to lead on agency that was established in 2945 and he will be the first from his region.
USDA Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan and U.S. Ambassador to the UN Food and Agriculture Agencies Etharin Cousin issued a joint statement about Graziano da Silva new role: " Dr. Graziano da Silva follows the current Director General Jacques Diouf, who helped usher in a process of renewal and reform that is transforming the UN's largest specialized agency into a more dynamic, responsive and accountable organization in the fight against world hunger. The United States thanks Dr. Diouf for his hard work and dedication during his 18 years as Director General. The reforms he helped begin are now more important than ever as global food prices continue to rise and the FAO itself is faced with a difficult financial climate.
The statement adds that both will look forward to working closely with Dr. Graziano da Silva to endure that the FAO continues to reform and push for more sustainable agricultural development, greater access to nutritional crops and more opportunities for women, particularly small holder farms, to receive the technical capacity and training support required to participate in the ag sector.
In his acceptance speech yesterday, Graziano da Silva outlined a pledge to work toward meeting five goals:
- eradicating hunger
- promoting a shift to sustainable food production
- ensuring greater fairness in gloval food management
- swiftly implementing agreed internal FAO refoms
- Expanding South-South Cooperation
"My track record shows that I can bring to the Organization the leadership that it needs," he said. "I have spent my whole working life dealing with issues related to agriculture, food security and sustainable development that are central to FAO's mandate.
"Not only have I taught and written about them, but as [the] first minister of food security in Brazil, I have led the design and implementation of the Zero Hunger programme that has enabled millions of people to escape from hunger."