FAO seeks to tailor technologies to needs. But it takes a much bigger effort to build the enabling environment that can embrace the all of the continent’s 50 million family farms, its even greater number of smallholders, and its many landless rural poor. FAO stands ready to support its member countries to take advantage of this digital revolution in their own food and agriculture systems, with the aim of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger and improving food security and nutrition worldwide. The international community must join forces to ensure that this digital revolution can be brought to scale.
AUTHOR’S PERSONAL STORY I was born in the Midwestern United States but grew up in the rural areas of the state of São Paulo, among what were at the time the most important coffee plantations of Brazil. I was always intrigued by how a country so rich and fertile could be plagued by hunger and poverty. This led me to study and then teach agronomy and economy. What I learned at university was important, but not enough. In the 1990s, I traveled over 90,000 kilometers in Brazil with then union leader Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to take an in-depth look into how the poor rural and urban populations lived. We met thousands of people, listened to their stories, to their needs and to their dreams. Everywhere we looked, there was potential waiting to be tapped. All that was needed was the right kind of support. To successfully overcome the hunger and poverty trap you needed a combination of action, ranging from productive support to social protection, investing in future generations while providing the tools needed for development today. There are no silver bullets against hunger and poverty, but data is part of the package that can help on the way to sustainable and inclusive development.
José Graziano da Silva is Director General of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization