Why Dr. Davit Kirvalidze is the right person to lead the FAO into the future

I strongly support Dr. Davit Kirvalidze to become the next Director- General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

I served as the United States Ambassador to Georgia from 1998–2001, which was a tumultuous period for the newly independent state. Beset by separatist struggles and civil war, the government of President Eduard Shevardnadze was trying to bring peace and economic reform to what some feared could become a failed state.

And then a natural disaster struck in the summer of 2000, a severe drought of historic proportions.

Fortunately for Georgia, Dr. Kirvalidze was Minister of Agriculture and did a superb job of navigating the country through this crisis, which threatened food and seed supplies and the very future of Georgian agriculture. The United States had provided Georgia with significant economic and technical assistance since independence in 1991 and was very concerned about the threat posed by the drought. I had several meetings with the Minister to discuss the problem and his plans for dealing with it. I was deeply impressed with him on several levels. His education and background were perfect to meet the task. He was a visionary with strong ideas and the drive and will to implement them.

This was a period of weak governance structures in Georgia and Davit stood out for his expertise and executive acumen. I observed as he mobilized resources across the government and engaged the foreign donor community. He organized a trip to the drought-stricken regions for the ambassadorial corps which led to an outpouring in emergency assistance to Georgia. The ambassadorial trip was well-publicized and played a key role in reassuring Georgians they were not forgotten. I also know from speaking with President Shevardnadze that he credited Davit for bringing Georgia through that crisis.

I have kept in close contact with Davit since leaving Georgia. I am quite familiar with his excellent work in agriculture both in Georgia and internationally. He is without doubt deserving and highly qualified for the Director General position at the FAO. He has personal integrity, drive, vision and the ability to organize and delegate. He is an optimist who believes the FAO can do even greater things to ease world hunger and poverty and a proven executive who can implement those plans. I very much hope he will be elected.