June 26, 2011 / 4:35 PM / 7 years ago

Brazil's Graziano da Silva voted new UN food chief

ROME, June 26 (Reuters) - Brazil’s Jose Graziano da Silva was elected head of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) on Sunday, replacing Senegal’s Jacques Diouf.

Graziano da Silva, currently head of the FAO in Latin America and the Caribbean and a former minister for food security in Brazil, was elected with 92 votes out of 180 cast, beating Spain’s Miguel Angel Moratinos, who got 88 votes.

He will serve a three and a half year term starting in January next year, renewable for another four years.

Graziano da Silva takes over at a time of volatile global food prices, which hit record highs early this year. The FAO is the largest U.N. agency with an annual budget of some $1 billion and 3,600 workers.

The 66-year-old organisation adopted a package of reforms in response to a withering independent assessment funded by its members in 2007, which said it risked “terminal decline” due to its weak governance and lack of transparency and accountability.

But this year Britain threatened to pull out of FAO unless it improved its still “patchy” performance and some donors, such as the United States, have initiated agricultural development projects of their own.

Graziano da Silva, an agronomist and economist, said on his campaign website he would promote more sustainable food production systems to protect the environment and would work for “greater fairness in the management of the global food system”.

World leaders set a goal in 2000 of halving the portion of the world population that suffers from hunger, reducing it to 7 percent. Around 13 percent are now undernourished, latest FAO figures show, compared to some 14 percent when the goal was set.

Reporting by Gavin Jones; Editing by Jan Harvey

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