The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) honored three research and farming organizations from Brazil, the Netherlands, and Zimbabwe today, the inaugural recipients of a new FAO Awards program.
FAO Director-General QU Dongyu delivered the Champion Award and the Partnership Award at a ceremony conducted during the Organization’s 170th Council meeting. The Council is the FAO’s highest governing body, meeting every two years in between the full Conference.
“As we gather today to honor our first group of awardees, we find ourselves in difficult times, with conflicts in many parts of the world, the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the effects of the climate crisis, and other humanitarian and social emergencies, all of which have pushed food prices to new highs.
“Through their efforts, our honorees have proved that we have the tools, knowledge, and capacity to make positive changes and make a difference in people’s lives,” he added.
The FAO Champion Award, which carries a $50,000 prize and honours significant and outstanding contributions to FAO’s overall aims, including the accomplishment of the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, is the UN agency’s top corporate award.
The FAO Awards Selection Committee recognized the Brazilian Agriculture Research Corporation (Embrapa) for its “widely recognized and well demonstrated track record in research and development, delivering innovation, training, and agritech solutions.”
Embrapa’s network and programs have aided in the expansion and scaling-up of breakthrough technologies and systems.
The Selection Committee highlighted that the organization’s collaborative activity spans numerous geographical areas and fields of expertise, with theme, ecoregional, and product-based research centers leading the way in disseminating and exchanging sustainable agrifood practices and information.
The $10,000 Partnership Award was split between Wageningen University and Research (WUR) in the Netherlands and the Foundations for Farming (FfF) in Zimbabwe.
The WUR’s engagement with the FAO, which “puts new collaborations and enhanced coordination at its center,” was acknowledged by the Awards Selection Committee.
It establishes a new collaborative strategy for the two institutions, which includes “bridging the science-policy interface, uniting research personnel and policymakers, and collaborating through agile actions to efficiently address challenges in a quickly changing world.”
The Selection Committee stated that the FfF “has engaged with local communities and important stakeholders to improve people’s lives by responding to their needs and rights.”
It cited how FfF-led initiatives helped nine million Zimbabweans achieve household food security for less than $1 per week, as well as how FfF developed the Pfumvudza concept, which entails farming significantly less land while increasing natural soil fertility and improving management and farming standards.
The prizes were presented to representatives of the organizations that attended the ceremony in person by the FAO Director-General.
In his acceptance speech, Tiago Toledo Ferreira, Director of Institutional Management at Embrapa, said, “Global problems require global solutions, and Embrapa has built a strong international cooperation network to search for joint solutions to tackle challenges like poverty, hunger, decarbonization, and sustainable agriculture.”
“Together, FAO and WUR must play a significant role in the transition of food systems worldwide, in collaboration with all stakeholders,” said Ron Mazier, Director, Corporate Strategy and Accounts at Wageningen University and Research.
“We look forward to maintaining our cooperation and joining hands to equip and encourage young Africans across the continent to become champions of agriculture,” said Matthew Mbanga, Chief Executive Officer of the Foundation for Farming Zimbabwe.
In his closing remarks, QU said, “Their accomplishments elevate our spirits, stimulate action, and urge more collaboration.”
The 195 FAO Members authorized a new awards program in June 2021 at their Conference, unifying and modernizing current honors under a single FAO brand name and establishing five categories of corporate prizes, two of which were presented today. Later in the year, the Achievement Award, Innovation Award, and Employee Awards will be handed.