Sustainability depends on the way food produced and consumed: FAO chief

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Jose Graziano da Silva

Small-scale producers, local production and consumption circuits and recovering traditional crops have a major part to play in reducing hunger, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva told professors and students at the University of Gastronomic Sciences on Monday.

He said that the Green Revolution of the 1960s had increased per capita availability of food by over 40 percent, but at the cost of a loss of food diversity, because of a focus on a few crops and significant impact on the environment from intensive use of chemical inputs.

But he said now there was a trend towards growing and marketing traditional foods, towards improving local infrastructure and markets and helping small-scale producers, all of which was good for the environment and the economy of rural areas, where hunger was worst.

Graziano da Silva said “Under-utilized crops … can have a positive impact on food security”, adding that “Recovering these crops is a way towards food security. It also means rediscovering lost flavors and identifying new ones".

Graziano da Silva mentioned cassava in Africa and South America and quinoa in the Andes as food crops that were coming into their own, to the benefit of poor farmers and their families. He encouraged his audience to help spread the word about the International Year of Quinoa, being celebrated this year.

Donn Bobb, United Nations.

Duration: 1'13"

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