FAO Director-General meeting with the President of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela.

19 July 2017, Panama – During his visit to Panama, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva signed four cooperation agreements aimed at accelerating the eradication of hunger, and established an alliance with a regional organization geared to reducing poverty and malnutrition around Central America. 

“Panama has showed commitment at the highest level to eradicate hunger and achieve the goals of the Sustainable Development Agenda for 2030,” Graziano da Silva said during a meeting with Juan Carlos Varela, President of the Republic of Panama. 

FAO’s Director-General signed agreements with the Agricultural and Livestock Development, Environment, and Foreign Affair Ministries as well as with the central government. The agreements are aimed at tackling the main causes of malnutrition in Panama and to share its experiences with other developing countries. 

“Panama has developed an innovative multi-sectorial approach to reduce malnutrition through the implementation of public policies requiring coordination between several ministries,” Graziano da Silva said. 

Support for indigenous peoples

Panama’s head of state and FAO’s Director-General also agreed to work together to promote output growth among the indigenous areas of the country. 

More than 60 percent of the country’s indigenous peoples suffer from some form of undernutrition. FAO agreed with the Agricultural and Livestock Ministry to provide technical assistance to strengthen food and nutritional security among these communities and to improve their productivity and organizational capacities. The planned measures will boost efforts to implement Panama’s Integrated Development Plan for Indigenous Peoples, designed to involve and engage traditional community leaders. 

Strengthening resilience in the Dry Corridor

The agreement reached with the Environment Ministry will facilitate the provision of technical help in designing the national component of FAO’s Program for Central America’s Dry Corridor. This programme seeks to improve environmental services, ecosystem protection and the resilience of the most vulnerable communities in the drought-prone area of Panama in an era of climate change. 

“It’s imperative to shift from merely responding to emergencies to an integrated action plan that tackles the structural causes of vulnerability, such as the degradation of natural resources, hunger and poverty, in the area,” Graziano da Silva said. 

Cooperation to share Panama’s experience

The agreement with Panama’s Foreign Affairs Ministry seeks to promote cooperation with other developing countries in the areas of food and nutritional security and the strengthening of family farming, within the framework of the Panama Cooperates 2030 Plan. 

Thanks to triangular cooperation with FAO, Panama is already working with Haiti on sustainable food production, and will seek to replicate this experience elsewhere. 

An alliance to reduce regional malnutrition

FAO’s Director-General also signed a new alliance with SISCA, the Central American Integration Secretariat. This five-year partnership will bolster the exchange and sharing of technical information, knowledge management and best practices among countries that form part of the Secretariat. Part of a broader South-South cooperation in strategic areas, it aims to bolster inter-sectorial public policies and technical cooperation to reduce hunger, malnutrition and rural poverty in Central American countries. 

SISCA and FAO will offer capacity building measures so that policies, plans and strategies to address those challenges can be designed and rolled out in practice. Inclusive social protection systems will play a significant role in the effort. 

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