Rome: The European Union (EU) will continue to build long-term resilience among the most vulnerable, tackle the root causes of hunger and poverty and improve nutrition, said José Manuel Barroso, addressing the FAO Conference.
Barroso, President of the European Commission, accepted an award for the EU's €1 billion initiative against hunger, partly implemented together with FAO in response to high food prices in poor countries.
In presenting the award, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva praised the EU for having used agriculture as a solution for the crisis: "As a result of these and other efforts, agriculture and food security are once more seen as entry points for growth and development strategies in many countries, and increasingly designated as priorities for international development assistance."
The award ceremony took place on the opening day of the 38th FAO Conference. Barroso accepted the Jacques Diouf Award for the "EU Food Facility", launched by the EU in response to the food price crisis in 2008-2011. The Facility helped 59 million people in 50 countries.
"The programmes financed under the Food Facility allowed smallholders to increase and diversify their sources of income, through better land, livestock, and water management," Barroso said. "Beneficiaries saw a 50 percent increase in agricultural production and a rise in the household annual income of on average €290. They have helped to save the lives of those who were most vulnerable to the price hikes, especially women and children."
"Next week I will attend the G8 Summit in Lough Erne and I will underline once again the need to make malnutrition history. This must be one of the main focuses of international development agenda."
Barroso stressed that the EU will continue to respond to food crises in vulnerable countries, like in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa, affected by poverty, climate hazards, high and volatile food prices, pressure on natural resources, rapid demographic growth, fragile governance, and political instability.
The EC shares the prize with the Indian NGO Self Employed Women's Association, which is helping extremely poor women through the integrated provision of agricultural extension, financial, literacy, education, care, housing, and health services.
"When women build food security they are able to educate their children, save, plan for future, participate in planning, and participate in decision making processes," said Reema Nanavaty on behalf of SEWA. "Such food security brings sense of dignity and self respect."
The Kenya Forest Service won an FAO award for its implementation of the Sustainable livelihood development project in the Mau forest complex. The service receives the Edouard Saouma Award, which is presented to the institution or institutions that have implemented with particular efficiency a project funded by FAO's Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP).
"The project has created new sustainable livelihood opportunities among forest adjacent communities and the Service has witnessed reduced incidences of destructive activities in the forest," said David K. Mbugua on behalf of the Kenya Forest Service.
The Guardian newspaper's global development team won for its reporting on agriculture, food security and poverty, with emphasis on progress made towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. The team receives the A.H. Boerma Award, which is presented biennially to a journalist or journalists who have helped to focus public attention on the world food problem.
The Organización del Sector Pesquero y Acuícola del Istmo Centroamericano won the Margarita Lizárraga Medal 2012-2013 for its significant contribution to sustainable fisheries and aquaculture development and to the practical and tangible application of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries in the Central American countries.
Three FAO field officers with the most outstanding contribution to the advancement of their country or countries of assignment received B.R. Sen Awards.
The award for 2011 is shared by project manager David Doolan, who through his technical expertise, leadership and ability to keep operations going despite a difficult environment lifted whole communities out of poverty in Pakistan, and senior forestry officer Patrick Durst for contributions to forestry over his 19-year career in the Asia-Pacific region.
The 2012 Sen award goes to Luca Alinovi, Senior Emergency and Rehabilitation Coordinator and Officer in Charge of FAO Somalia, for outstanding leadership, innovative approaches and a major upscaling of operations in famine-torn Somalia.
New member countries
The Conference voted to accept Brunei Darussalam, Singapore and South Sudan as new FAO Member Countries, bringing the total to 197 Members comprising 194 Member Nations, 1 Member Organization (European Union) and 2 Associate Members (Faroe Islands and Tokelau).