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Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Announces New Director-General

27 June 2011, Rome - FAO's Director-General elect José Graziano Da Silva. A Dialogue on Women in Agriculture: Where to after SOFA? Side event sponsored by the Rome Women's Network co-hosted by the United States and Kenya. FAO Conference, 37th Session. FAO headquarters (Austria Room). Co-Hosted by Ambassador of the United States of America to the UN Agencies in Rome Ertharin Cousin Ambassador of the Republic of Kenya to Italy and Permanent Representative to FAO, IFAD, and WFP Josephine Wangari Gaita. Presentations by: Ambassador Melanne Verveer, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues for the United States of America; Dr. Agnes Kalibata Minister of Agriculture of Rwanda; Ann Tutwiler Deputy Director General for Knowledge of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. Copyright ©FAO. Editorial use only. Photo credit must be given: ©FAO/Alessandra Benedetti

FAO's Director-General elect José Graziano Da Silva. A Dialogue on Women in Agriculture: Where to after SOFA? Side event sponsored by the Rome Women's Network co-hosted by the United States and Kenya. FAO Conference, 37th Session. FAO headquarters (Austria Room). Co-Hosted by Ambassador of the United States of America to the UN Agencies in Rome Ertharin Cousin Ambassador of the Republic of Kenya to Italy and Permanent Representative to FAO, IFAD, and WFP Josephine Wangari Gaita. Copyright ©FAO. Editorial use only. Photo credit: ©FAO/Alessandra Benedetti

This week, I joined my colleagues from all over the world for the 37th Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Rome. This bi-annual conference brings together world leaders in food and agriculture to discuss important issues related to agriculture, forestry, and global food security. This year’s conference is of particular significance as delegates elected a new Director-General, Jose Graziano da Silva of Brazil, to replace Jacques Diouf of Senegal, who has served in the position since 1993. The United States thanks Dr. Diouf for his hard work and dedication during his time as the Director General.  We are confident that Dr. Graziano da Silva will continue the ongoing reform effort to ensure that FAO is a strong, vibrant organization capable of tackling the challenges before us.

At this year’s meeting, ‘Women in Agriculture’ is the central theme and I am joined here by Melanne Verveer, U.S. Department of State’s Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, and Ertharin Cousin, Ambassador, U.S. Mission to the U.N. Agencies, as part of the U.S. delegation. In 2009, I had the great honor of being the first woman to chair this meeting. This year, the conference focused on the important role of women in agriculture. FAO reports emphasize that closing the gender gap in agriculture would greatly benefit the agriculture sector and society as a whole.  If women had the same access to knowledge, resources, and leadership roles as men, they could increase yields on their farms by as much as 30 percent. Production gains of this magnitude could reduce hunger for as many as 150 million people. Obviously, women play a key role in the fight against hunger and poverty.

We look forward to working closely with Dr. Graziano da Silva to ensure 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 farmers, to receive the technical capacity and training support that are required to participate in the agricultural sector. As FAO begins a new era in its history, we remain committed to supporting the organization, its continuing reforms, and its critical work combating hunger around the globe.

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