Food Tank recently had the opportunity to speak with Thomas Pesek, Partnership Officer at the International Fund for Agricultural Development, who was one of the speakers at the 2015 Food Tank Summit in partnership with The George Washington University.
Food Tank (FT): What will your message be at the Food Tank Summit?
Thomas Pesek (TP): Investing in smallholder family agriculture is the most important thing we can do to promote improved global food security and nutrition, and to achieve a significant impact on poverty reduction.
(FT): How are you contributing to building a better food system?
(TP): By contributing to the work of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), which is the leading multilateral investor in the livelihoods of poor, rural agricultural producers and plays a critical leadership role in positioning smallholder farmers at the center of the global food system.
(FT): What are the biggest obstacles or challenges you face in achieving your organization’s goals?
(TP): In mobilizing the level of financial resources required to sufficiently match the unmet demand for IFAD’s work and to address the scale of the challenges and opportunities faced by rural communities in developing countries.
(FT): Who is your food hero and why?
(TP): Bill Ayres. As a boy growing up in New York City, my mother always listened to his weekly radio talk show each Sunday evening. At first, the weekly broadcast was something I vaguely noticed, much like the sound of city traffic. Over time, however, I became a huge fan because of the thoughtful questions he raised, often focusing on food, hunger and poverty issues. As the Executive Director and Co-Founder of World Hunger Year, a grassroots organization dedicated to ending hunger and poverty, he frequently stressed that solutions to these problems already existed. Bill Ayres opened my eyes and inspired me to try to make a difference.
Interestingly, I had the pleasure of meeting him in-person a couple of years ago. We were sitting next to each other at a congressional hearing on global food security. I made some comments during the discussion segment and he leaned over to signal his agreement. We then introduced one another and I told him that he was one of my heroes.
(FT): In 140 characters or less what is the most important thing we can all do to help change the food system?
(TP): As a global community, we can increase awareness that the future of global food security depends on small farms and smallholder farmers. With the right support and conditions, smallholder family farmers are an integral part of the solution to today’s greatest global challenges.