Interview – FAO boss: in a place that produces so much food, hunger is a crime


FAO boss: in a place that produces so much food, hunger is a crime“Hunger is a crime,” says José Graziano

On June 6, 2015, José Graziano da Silva was re-elected as director general of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). He was first elected to the position in June 2011, starting his term in early 2012, just after the end of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s second term as president of Brazil. Years prior, Mr. Graziano was part of the Lula administration, serving between 2003 and 2004 as the minister of Food Security and the Fight Against Hunger.

He also coordinated the elaboration of the Fome Zero (“Zero Hunger”) program and oversaw its implementation. Zero Hunger was the first step towards Bolsa Família, certainly Lula’s most famous policy. The cash-transfer program, which provides a minimum monthly cash deposit for families in extreme poverty, is the main source of income for 21 percent of Brazilian families, according to the Ministry of Social Development.

Mr. Graziano joined FAO in 2006 as head of the Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean and supported the “Latin America and the Caribbean without Hunger Initiative“. The project led to the region’s commitment to being the first region in the world to eradicate hunger by 2025.

He has written or edited more than 25 books on rural development, food security, and the agrarian economy and regularly contributes to important publications and high-level discussions on food security and sustainable agriculture. Born in the United States on November 17, 1949, he is a Brazilian and Italian citizen and has two children and three grandchildren.

In 2014, for the first time in its history, Brazil was no longer listed in the World Hunger Map, which features countries in which over 5 percent of the population ingests fewer calories than recommended. In 2013, 3 percent of the Brazilian population ate less than they should. A report published in July 2017, however, alerted that there is a risk that the country will return to the next Hunger Map due to a high level of unemployment, the rise of poverty levels, cuts to Bolsa Família’s budget, and the federal spending cap approved by the Temer government, which froze public spending for 20 years.

The Brazilian Report spoke with Mr. Graziano from Rome, where FAO is located and where he is currently living. In this interview, he talks about what Brazil and the world needs to do in order to ensure that every person has access to food.

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