Addressing ministers from some of the countries that lie in the so-called “global south”, comprising developing nations in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, José Graziano da Silva said a number of these places were facing similar challenges in food security and agricultural and rural development.
“In many cases, the geographic, climatic and socioeconomic conditions are similar," the director-general said. "This makes it easier to adapt successful experiences to local realities.”
He added that the FAO would help participating countries by collating data, including any findings and solutions they made, and distributing it to other parts of the global-south, having strengthened its presence in poorer countries to offer tailored assistance.
The FAO's South-South programme, which was designed to share homegrown development initiatives, has connected countries to share expertise since 1996, and and in that time it has deployed 1,800 experts and technicians to more than 50 countries.
In April, Morocco established a South-South cooperation trust fund to share expertise with other African countries. With support from the fund, a three-way cooperation agreement was signed this weekend between FAO, Morocco and Mali.
Graziano da Silva stressed the different perspective that South-South exchanges bring to international cooperation as "a relationship among equals" that "breaks the traditional dichotomy between donors and recipients”.
“This sharing is more than just technical assistance—it is also an exercise in solidarity."
The director-general called family farming the backbone of the rural economy, saying it was the key to fighting rural poverty and the food security crisis.
He also underlined the connection between a lack of economic opportunities for young people in rural areas to the immigration crisis in the Mediterranean and beyond, urging "actions that give poor rural people the opportunities to lead a dignified life within their communities, near their families."