New FAO Head Discusses Unstable Food Prices


ROME — Food prices are expected to remain volatile in 2012, according to Jose Graziano da Silva, of the Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

And, speaking at his inaugural press conference, the newly appointed director-general said the anticipated recession across Europe this year could mean countries may renege on their annual FAO dues.

The FAO’s director-general said his top priority will be to eliminate hunger and undernourishment. “There will be many more people getting hungry, unemployed and we will need to find new ways to assist those governments,” he warned. The head of the UN food agency also said he expects food prices wouldn’st rise much but they also wouldn’st fall. “Volatility will remain, that is clear.”

FAO, the UN’s biggest specialized agency with a $1-billion budget, has been battling the effects of wild fluctuations in food prices that have particularly affected poor countries.

Graziano da Silva helped create Brazil’s much-lauded Zero Hunger program, which, over the past eight years, helped lift 19 million Brazilians out of poverty. He wants to decentralize FAO’s work to the regional and sub-regional levels where hunger is fought.

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