Trailblazers for food security lauded at FAO ceremony

26 June 2019, Rome – Government ministries in Pakistan and Rwanda, a group of Spanish journalists, a Norwegian research vessel, a group of current and former parliamentarians in Chile, and FAO field staff who worked in South Sudan and Yemen have been recognized at today’s FAO Awards ceremony, held on the sidelines of the 41st FAO Conference.

Pakistan’s Ministry of National Food Security and Research and Rwanda’s Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources jointly received the Edouard Saouma Award for having implemented with particular efficiency projects funded by FAO’s Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP).

The Pakistani ministry won for its outstanding efficiency in implementing a Foot and Mouth Disease surveillance programme which has triggered a large-scale vaccination campaign and built the capacities of a network of laboratories across the country.

The Rwandan ministry was recognized for its exceptional approach to tackling youth unemployment and the challenges faced by youth in agriculture. This includes an alliance created by the Rwanda Youth in Agribusiness (RYAF) with local governments and private institutions to increase youth employment in rural areas.

“My congratulations to all of you. Your work is an inspiration to all of us. Thank you for your contribution,” said Director-General José Graziano da Silva. “It is very important to showcase positive results and concrete ways in which we can work together,” he said.

The editorial team at the Spanish-language newspaper El País were honoured with the A.H. Boerma Award for their outstanding efforts to communicate to the public about the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with a focus on hunger, malnutrition and sustainable agriculture, and FAO’s work to improve food security and nutrition.

The Margarita Lizárraga Medal for a person or organization that has served with distinction in the application of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries has been awarded to the research vessel Dr Fridtjof Nansen of the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation for its work in the application of the Ecosystem Approach for Fisheries.

Ambitious policy change lauded

The Jacques Diouf Award recognizes a significant contribution to the improvement of global food security and was won by a group of current and former parliamentarians in Chile for spearheading the Law on Food Labelling and Advertising.

The new legislation is an outstanding example of ambitious policy change, the Selection Committee said, and has reframed policy discussions around obesity and related non-communicable diseases. The Chilean example also shows that change in consumers’ habits and producers’ practices can take place when supported by appropriate policies and legal frameworks, and is proving to be an inspiration to other countries.

FAO staff recognized for outstanding service

Two FAO staff members have been praised for their work in the field, receiving the B.R. Sen Award which recognizes FAO field officers for outstanding contributions to the advancement of their country or countries of assignment.

Serge Tissot has been recognized for his exceptional leadership and technical expertise as FAO Representative in South Sudan, while Salah El Hajj Hassan has been recognized for his exceptional contribution to addressing food security, rural development and humanitarian challenges as FAO Representative in Yemen.

Recognizing innovation in agriculture

Separate to the FAO Awards, FAO and the Federal Government of Switzerland have awarded the first International Innovation Award for Sustainable Food and Agriculture.

The top prize, which recognizes innovations that apply to more than one level of the supply chain from farmers to consumers, has been shared by Imaflora in Brazil and Practical Action in Bangladesh.

Johann Schneider-Ammann, former Federal Councilor of Switzerland’s Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research, who initially launched the prize, emphasized that “agricultural innovation is a central driving force that can significantly contribute to transforming food systems by helping family farmers and ensuring food security and sustainable diets.”

Imaflora is commended for successfully linking indigenous groups to markets through a digital platform and creation of the Origens Brasil brand. Imaflora has developed a sustainable practice that fosters the protection of natural resources and the Amazon, and values the participation of women and youth. Launched in 2016, it already has more than 1,500 producers, 14 companies and 40 local organizations.

Practical Action is recognized for developing an innovative approach to empowering landless and marginalized farmers through sandbar cropping, making use of otherwise barren riverbeds to grow food, and connecting growers to buyers.

The second category recognizes innovations that strengthen the role of youth in agriculture and food systems has been awarded to the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Nigeria. The IITA established an agribusiness incubation program that links trained agripreneurs to a source of start-up capital and has grown to 13 groups with over 385 members in six countries.

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