He praised the response of the international community to the recent famine in Somalia. "In Somalia, a combination of good rains and coordinated and dedicated efforts of the international community, including the work FAO did with our sister agency World Food Programme and UNICEF, allowed us to overcome famine conditions in only six months," he said.
However, Graziano da Silva warned that the gains in Somalia are still fragile and that a sustained effort was needed to prevent a repetition of such a tragedy. Graziano da Silva, who took office in January, asked the council to approve reform measures he has put forward.
"At this session you will discuss issues that will determine FAO's future capacity to contribute to a food-secure world. They include decentralisation, further adjustments to the programme of work and budget, and FAO's strategic direction," he said.
Measures include restructuring parts of the organisation and transferring many headquarters services and staff to FAO country offices to be closer to the problems of underdevelopment and hunger.
The council, which meets until Friday, is composed of representatives of FAO member countries. Elected by the FAO conference, the organisation's top governing body, council members meet every six months to carry out executive oversight of programme and budgetary activities.