FAO Goodwill Ambassador and Olympic Legend Carl Lewis to visit FAO Project Site in Laguna

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(Press release provided by Grace Bondad Nicolas)

In line with his active involvement in the global efforts to bring hope to the disadvantaged, hungry, and suffering, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Goodwill Ambassador and Olympic Legend Carl Lewis will visit the Philippines on April 9 to 12, 2012 to reinforce awareness on the need for strengthened partnerships and innovative solutions for water and food security. Prior to his speech on “Water and Food Security—a challenge for all” during the opening of the Asian Irrigation Forum organized by the Asian Development Bank, Lewis will visit a FAO project site in Los Banos, Laguna on 10 April 2012 to interact with project counterparts (e.g. DA, BFAR and LGUs) and farmer/fisher beneficiaries.

​The recently completed project is entitled “Immediate Restoration of Food Security in Flood-affected Region IV-A (CALABARZON) through the Provision of Agriculture and Fisheries Inputs and Technical Support,” and aimed to restore the agriculture- and fisheries-based livelihoods and strengthen the food security of 10,406 of the most-affected farmers in Region IV-A through the provision of agricultural and fisheries inputs and technical assistance.

​Implemented from January 11, 2010 to May 17, 2011, the project was funded by the Kingdom of Spain in response to the humanitarian crisis that had a severe impact on people’s livelihoods during the onslaught of tropical storms Ketsana (Ondoy), Parma (Pepeng), and Marinae (Santi) in 2009. Agricultural and fisheries inputs provided include high value vegetable crop seeds, livestock, feeds, dewormers, tilapia and milkfish fingerlings, and seaweed seedlings. The beneficiaries also received training in crop production and management, organic farming, home gardening, rice breeding and seed inspection.

​A short programme will be held during the visit, and will include a briefing on the project highlights and interaction with local stakeholders. Lewis will arrive at the project site on the afternoon of April 10 (2pm at Brgy. Bayog, Los Baños), right after a visit to the International Rice Research Institute, also in Los Baños, Laguna. He will then return to Manila to attend to his other engagements during the Asian Irrigation Forum.

About FAO

​The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations is the specialized UN agency for food, nutrition, agriculture and forestry, and has been helping the Philippines pursue its development objectives since 1978. It closely works with various national government agencies, local government units, civil society organizations, academe, federations, associations and groups representing farmers, fisherfolks, the private sector, donors and international agencies. ​Since its foundation, FAO has recognized physical and economic access to food as a basic human right, and the mission of the Organization was grounded on the belief that elimination of hunger and malnutrition is essential and attainable through national efforts and international cooperation.

FAO’s mandate is directed to step up levels of nutrition and standards of living, to improve the production and distribution of food and agricultural products, and to better the condition of rural populations as rural areas are home to seventy percent of the world’s poor and hungry people. FAO helps the Philippines address different development issues. These include food security and poverty, soaring food prices, rural development, agribusiness development, good agricultural practices, climate change, transboundary animal diseases, disaster preparedness and peace promotion in conflict-affected areas.

About Carl Lewis

​Carl Lewis was nominated FAO Goodwill Ambassador on October 16, 2009. During his career, Carl Lewis attended four Olympic games and won 9 Olympic gold medals, earning himself international respect and a place in history as one of the truly great athletes of all time. He was member of five American Olympic Teams, winning 10 medals, nine of them gold. ​With unsurpassed talent in the long jump and his speed in the sprints, he has gone places where no other track and field athlete has ever visited. His five Olympic appearances are a record for a male athlete, and many of his Olympic performances were in world record or Olympic record time. His impressive track and field performances earned Carl Lewis world-renowned fame and instant name recognition as one of the greatest athletes of our time.

​Since his retirement from active competition in 1997, Carl Lewis has devoted a great deal of his time and energy to charity, founding “The Carl Lewis Foundation,” which serves as an umbrella for the many charities that Lewis supports including the “Best Buddies” organization, The Wendy Marx Foundation (for organ donor awareness), many youth fitness groups as well as the Ronald McDonald House Charities. He has recently launched a new website, Fit Forever (www.fitforever.com), dedicated to empowering youth and adults, and improving their life conditions through physical activity and a healthy lifestyle.

​An activist for family, youth, education, wellness and fitness, Carl Lewis brings his international celebrity status to attract awareness of the challenges and opportunities surrounding these issues around the world. In recognition of his untiring commitment to the cause of the underprivileged and active involvement in the global efforts to bring hope for a decent life to those who are disadvantaged, hungry and suffering, Carl Lewis was nominated Goodwill Ambassador of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization on the occasion of World Food Day.

​In this capacity, Carl has acted as an active testimonial of the Run for Food race organized by FAO which took place in Rome, Milan and other cities of the world, and of other FAO awareness-raising and fundraising initiatives. ​Carl Lewis’s commitment towards FAO’s activities has been untiring, including his participation as keynote speaker in the World Food Day celebrations in New York in October 2009 and in the launching of the One Billion Hungry Project at FAO Headquarters in Rome on 11 May 2010.  To this aim, Carl has recorded numerous support messages and released interviews to the international media on his role as an FAO Goodwill Ambassador.

​In the framework of the joint efforts by the United Nations communications platform, and to galvanize support for the Millennium Development Goals, the UN Secretary-General Ban-ki Moon nominated Carl Lewis, in June 2010, as MDG Champion on the basis of his track record of speaking out against hunger and extreme poverty and outstanding leadership in promoting the implementation of the goals. Consequently, Lewis attended the UN Summit in September 2010 and also actively promoted the Summit: in particular, Goal No. 1, “Eradication of Hunger and Extreme Poverty,” through a social media campaign, posting support messages on Twitter and Facebook and linking those to the BHP.

​In June 2011, Carl Lewis carried out an official mission to Haiti, during which he advocated the current FAO initiative Fruit Trees for Haiti. He also visited some meaningful FAO projects related to emergency aid to agricultural production in support of vulnerable families and earthquake-affected rural families through smallholder reforestation and agroforestry and water resources development.

​On July 27, 2011, Carl Lewis was invited to act as the keynote speaker at the Unveiling Ceremony of the Olympic Countdown Clock marking the “One Year to Go” point at the UN Headquarters in New York.  In his statement, Carl spoke about the ideals of the Olympic Movement, and the United Nations and its funds, programmes and agencies, and the role of sport in promoting peace, development and understanding.

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