Finding common ground with Food and Agriculture Organization

September 6, 2023

Innovation. Collaboration. Supported farmers.

These are some of the common themes presented in “Building a Dynamic FAO for a Better World,” the vision of QU Dongyu, Ph.D., general director of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, as he starts his second four-year term.

In his manifesto, QU champions science and innovation, private sector engagement, biodiversity across agricultural sectors, youth and women, and the world’s most vulnerable farmers and rural populations as means for improving agriculture and ultimately the world.

“We must leverage our collective wisdom to help vulnerable populations and stand united to achieve real progress,” QU says. “Our focus is to attain zero hunger, and our aspiration is to realize the Four Betters (better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life for all), with the ultimate purpose of ensuring the world’s farmers are well supported and rural areas are made more attractive for the younger generations.”

QU also affirms a truth that serves as the foundation for Solutions from the Land: Agriculture provides solutions to the world’s greatest challenges, from poverty and hunger to climate change.

“I continue to believe that food and agriculture is critical for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and all the SDGs. And that agriculture provides the most inclusive solution to eradicate poverty and hunger, and to reduce inequalities,” QU says. 

“Solutions from the Land is aligned with Director General QU in his sincere belief that agriculture can deliver high value solutions to global sustainable development goals, and we are advocating for agricultural innovation and technology and for recognizing that farmers are undeniably essential,” says Ernie Shea, president of Solutions from the Land. 

QU notes FAO’s vision to:

  • Make innovation a driving force, where innovations in technology, business model, society and ways of thinking come from people and are at service of people.
  • Promote greater incorporation of innovative, efficiency-enhancing mechanization and digitalization processes to enhance farmers’ access to, and use of, quality seeds and planting materials in sustainable cropping systems.
  • Increase food availability by reducing food loss and waste.
  • Address water scarcity for agriculture and the environment.
  • Support agricultural resilience in the face of climate change.
  • Monitor, assess and respond to food insecurity.
  • Build capacity for young farmers, rural women and producers’ organizations to improve their technical capacity and business operations, develop inclusive and sustainable value chains, create decent jobs and increase income generation.
  • Develop a global strategy for healthy, low-carbon animal protein production that reduces stress on resources and the environment through improved efficiencies at all levels, from land and herd management to feed conversion.
  • Strengthen work on data to improve science-based decision-making and through the creation of a Center for Excellence in Digital Agriculture, FAO Innovation Fund and Incubator, and Global Food and Agriculture Museum and Network.

As FAO continues its work, Solutions from the Land will continue to put a megaphone up to the mouths of farmers in the U.S. and beyond to showcase the innovative, boots-on-the-ground work they are doing that FAO could learn from and promote more widely.

These farmers are using circular systems—using and reusing resources while reducing waste—to improve the land, water and socioeconomics. Technologies help farmers use water more efficiently. Innovations and soil-health-building principles leverage the power of biodiversity. Working with neighbors and improving agricultural production enhances food and nutrition security.

All tools put together build better lives—for farmers and everyone on the planet.

“Let us unite as one FAO focused on providing service to the world’s farmers, ensuring global transformational development, and effective support for the most vulnerable populations,” as QU says. “Let us embrace innovation; strengthen internal management; and improve delivery, accountability and transparency.”

SfL endorses Director General QU’s vision and priorities, and we look forward to partnering with our FAO colleagues, advancing our guiding principles and helping agriculture cultivate a better world.

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