Rome -- FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva formally recognized 38 countries for reducing hunger by half well ahead of international targets for the year 2015.
During a high-level ceremony attended by several heads of state, 18 countries received diplomas for early achievement of targets set by both Millennium Development Goal 1 (MDG1) — to halve the proportion of hungry people by 2015 — plus the more stringent World Food Summit (WFS) goal of halving the absolute number of hungry people by 2015.
They are: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cuba, Djibouti, Georgia, Ghana, Guyana, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Nicaragua, Peru, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Thailand, Turkmenistan, Venezuela and Viet Nam.
Twenty countries received diplomas for meeting the MDG 1 target alone.
They are: Algeria, Angola, Bangladesh, Benin, Brazil, Cambodia, Cameroon, Chile, Dominican Republic, Fiji, Honduras, Indonesia, Jordan, Malawi, Maldives, Niger, Nigeria, Panama, Togo and Uruguay.
Recognition in both cases was based on hunger reductions achieved between 1990-92 and 2010-2012.
The WFS goal was set in 1996, when 180 nations met at FAO headquarters to discuss ways to end hunger. The MDG 1 target was established by the international community at the UN General Assembly in 2000.
In addition, 8 countries were identified as being on track to meeting the MDG-1 hunger target: the Bahamas, Chad, China, Ethiopia, Gabon, Rwanda, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.
'To each and every one of you, I want to say that you are living proof that when societies decide to put an end to hunger, and when there is political commitment from governments, we can transform that will into concrete action and results,' Graziano da Silva said.
'FAO is proud to work with all our Member Nations, developed and developing, to reach our common vision of a hunger-free and sustainable world,' he added.
First generation that can end hunger
The Director-General pointed out that there were 928 days until the 2015 MDG deadline, but he urged countries to go beyond that and aim for the complete elimination of hunger.
'We are the first generation that can end hunger, which has plagued humanity since the birth of civilization. Let's seize this opportunity,' he said.
Graziano da Silva said strong regional commitments were supporting national anti-hunger efforts. He also thanked the international donor community for helping to initiate and scale-up successful hunger-fighting actions in numerous countries.
The FAO chief also pointed out that 15 developing countries already had hunger rates below 5 percent dating back to at least 1990: Argentina, Barbados, Dominica, Brunei Darussalam, Egypt, Iran, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mexico, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates.
The ceremony was attended by numerous representatives of FAO member states, including: President Boni Yayi, President of the Republic of Benin; President Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia; President Porfirio Lobo Sosa of the Republic of Honduras; President Ricardo Martinelli of Panama; President Nicolás Maduro Moros, of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela; Prime Minister Samuel A.A. Hinds of the Republic of Guyana; Prime Minister Ralph Gonzalves of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines; Prime Minister Gabriel Arcanjo Ferreira da Costa of the Republic of São Tomé and Principe.
The ceremony took place during the week-long meeting of FAO's highest governing body, the Conference.