FAO advocates strengthening ties of industry, agriculture

by World Grain Staff
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VIENNA, AUSTRIA — Industrialization can be an important tool for poverty and hunger reduction but should not come at the expense of agricultural development, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Director-General José Graziano da Silva said on Nov. 4 at the Second Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development Forum (ISID Forum II) in Vienna, Austria.

“Industrial development and agriculture should complement each other,” he told participants. Graziano da Silva stressed the need to strengthen links between agriculture and other sectors of the economy to build sustainable food systems.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, also speaking at the event organized by the United Nations Development Organization (UNIDO), underscored this point, saying that promoting food security should be a priority for industrial development.

Supporting farmers to add value to the food chain goes beyond the monetary dimension of increasing their incomes, Graziano da Silva argued, saying, : “It means more nutritious and healthy foods, produced sustainably.”

There is no one-size-fits-all formula to creating sustainable and inclusive industrialized economies, he added, underscoring the role of FAO and UNIDO in assisting developing countries in finding their own way forward by building on and adapting the successful experiences of other countries.

Developing a strong, sustainable agribusiness sector is particularly important for Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs), who experience a disadvantage in access to resources, tend to have less arable land than their seafront neighbors and experience significantly higher food price volatility. 

“Being a landlocked developing country does not condemn you to food insecurity,” Graziano da Silva said at the Second United Nations Conference on Landlocked Developing Countries, also in Vienna. “There are ways forward, and success stories to inspire action.”

He highlighted a number of landlocked countries, including Kazakhstan and Mali, who have not only halved the proportion but also the total number of hungry people, regardless of such structural constrains.

One major challenge in building strong agricultural industries in LLDCs is climate change, which puts additional pressure on agriculture and natural resources and increases the need to build climate resilience into local agricultural production techniques.

“We must recognize that agricultural systems are very diverse, and very differently affected by climate change,” said Graziano da Silva, who added that FAO is currently active in all landlocked developing countries, “helping them increase food security, strengthen healthy and sustainable food systems, and build resilience.”

These efforts will be further bolstered by a new "Global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture" launched during the September 2014 UN Climate Summit, which will be housed in FAO. And the upcoming Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2), organized by FAO and the World Health Organization (WHO), Nov. 19-21, aims to create broad and concrete global commitment at the highest political levels towards such improved, more nutritious, food systems for all.

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