Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) | IAS Target IAS Target

Food and Agriculture Organisation

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger. Serving both developed and developing countries, FAO acts as a neutral forum where all nations meet as equals to negotiate arguments and debate policy. FAO is also a source of knowledge and information, and helps developing countries in transition, modernize and improve agriculture, forestry, and fisheries practices, ensuring good nutrition and food security for all.

Formation 16 October 1945
Headquarters Rome, Italy
Parent organization United Nations Economic and Social Council
Membership 197 member states, including the EU, Niue and The Cook Islands (States in free-association with New Zealand)
Associate members Faroe Islands and Tokelau


The agency is directed by the Conference of Member Nations, which meets every two years. The Conference elects a council of 49 member states (serve three-year rotating terms) that acts as an interim governing body. The Director-General is the head of the agency.

8 Departments of FAO:

  • Agriculture and Consumer Protection,
  • Climate, Biodiversity,
  • Land and Water Department,
  • Economic and Social Development,
  • Fisheries and Aquaculture,
  • Forestry,
  • Corporate Services and
  • Technical Cooperation and Programme Management.

Priorities of FAO

  • Help eliminate hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition
  • Make agriculture, forestry and fisheries more productive and sustainable
  • Reduce rural poverty
  • Enable inclusive and efficient agricultural and food systems
  • Increase the resilience of livelihoods to threats and crises

Two fundamental areas of work

  • Gender and
  • Governance

Reports of FAO

  • The State of Agricultural Commodity Markets
  • The State of Food and Agriculture
  • The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World
  • The State of the World’s Animal Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture
  • The State of the World’s Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture
  • The State of the World’s Forest Genetic Resources
  • The State of the World’s Forests
  • The State of the World’s Land and Water Resources for Food and Agriculture
  • The State of the World’s Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture
  • The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture
  • Status of the World’s Soil Resources

Programmes and Achievements

  • Codex Alimentarius
    FAO and the WHO created the Codex Alimentarius Commission in 1961 to develop food standards, guidelines and texts such as codes of practice under the Joint FAO/ WHO Food Standards Programme. The main aims of the programme
    • protecting consumer health,
    • ensuring fair trade and
    • promoting co-ordination of all food standards work undertaken by intergovernmental and non-governmental organization.

  • World Food Summit
    In 1996, FAO organized the World Food Summit. The Summit concluded with the signing of the Rome Declaration

    Goal of World food Summit

    Halving the number of people who suffer from hunger by the year 2015. At the same time, 1,200 civil society organizations (CSOs) from 80 countries participated in an NGO forum. The forum was critical of the growing industrialization of agriculture and called upon governments –and FAO – to do more to protect the 'Right to Food' of the poor.

  • International Plant Protection Convention
    FAO created the International Plant Protection Convention or IPPC in 1952. This international treaty organization works to shield the international spread of pests and plant diseases in both cultivated and wild plants.
    Functions of IPPC are:
    • Tracking of pest outbreaks, and
    • The maintenance of lists of plant pests,
    • Coordination of technical assistance between member nations.

    Membership: 183 contracting parties have ratified the treaty.

  • Alliance Against Hunger and Malnutrition (AAHM)
    AAHM was created in 2002 as the 'International Alliance against Hunger (IAAH)' to fortify and coordinate national efforts in the fight against hunger and malnutrition. AAHM linking governments, UN organizations, and NGOs together in order to increase effectiveness through unity.

    Aims of AAHM

    • Global connections between local, regional, national and international institutions that share the goals of fighting hunger and malnutrition.
    • The organization works to address food security by enhancing the resources and knowledge sharing and strengthening hunger activities within countries and across state lines at the regional and international levels.
    • To address how countries and organizations can be more effective in advocating and carrying out actions to address malnutrition and hunger.

    The mission of AAHM (UN Millennium Development Goals)

    • Reducing the number of people that suffer from hunger in half by 2015
    • Developing a global partnership for development

    The Alliance (AAHM) was founded by the Rome-based food agencies

    • International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)
    • The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
    • UN World Food Programme (WFP)
    • Biodiversity International

  • Global Partnership Initiative for Plant Breeding Capacity Building (GIPB)

    The GIPB is a global partnership dedicated to escalating plant breeding capacity building. The mission of GIPB is-
    • To improve crops for food security and
    • To enhance the capacity of developing countries
    • Sustainable development through better plant breeding and delivery systems.
    • The ultimate goal is to ensure that a critical mass of leaders, plant breeders, managers and technicians, partners and donors are connected together through an effective global network.

    Increasing capacity building for plant breeding in developing countries is important for the achievement of meaningful results in poverty and hunger reduction and to reverse the current worrisome trends. Plant breeding is a well-recognized science capable of widening the genetic and the adaptability base of cropping systems, by combining conventional selection techniques and modern technologies. It is essential to face and prevent the recurrence of crises such as that of the soaring food prices and to respond to the increasing demands for crop-based sources of energy.

  • Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS)

    The Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) Partnership Initiative is Agenda 21 in the Food and Agricultural Organization of United Nations, FAO in 2002 during the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa.

    GIAHS aims

    To identify, support, and safeguard Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems and their livelihoods, agricultural and associated biodiversity, knowledge systems, landscapes, and cultures around the world. The GIAHS Partnership identifies the importance of the well-being of family farming communities in an integrated approach while directing activities towards sustainable agriculture and rural development.