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Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations


The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations leads international efforts to defeat hunger. FAO provides data and specialized information for governments drafting policy and legislation relating to food security and rural development. It also provides technical assistance and know-how for both private and donor-aid driven development projects promoting agriculture, nutrition, forestry, fisheries and rural development. It had played a role in recent years in promoting biodiversity and the renewable use of bioenergy. The Organization is a world centre of food and agricultural information and knowledge and a forum for policy dialogue and forging agreements among nations.

The Goals

The FAO has a broad mandate and is active in many countries at different levels in various sectors of the rural economy. However, despite its wide-ranging activities, its core goals remain to:

• Eradicate and prevent hunger and disease

• Promote food security and boost food production

• Alleviate poverty by promoting sustainable rural development

• Preserving ecological balance, natural resources, and the environment.

How the FAO Achieves its Goals

The FAO Monitors food scarcity and disease outbreaks to enable governments, aid agencies, and the international community to take timely action. It create material to educate and inform all stakeholders in the development process, from major international agencies to private firms and villagers, and it provides in-the-field expertise for rural development program, in addition to assisting governments in forming policy and drawing up legislation

The FAO is actively involved in knowledge gathering and research, and disseminates information to all actors involved in helping attain the FAO’s goals. This dissemination takes the form of technical papers, farmer/stakeholder manuals, training programs, as well as other forms, including policy recommendations and aid in drawing up legislation. It works in close coordination with the World Food Program and the World Health Organization.

Seven major departments are currently in operation, Agriculture, Economic and Social, Fisheries and Aquaculture, Forestry, Natural Resources, and Technical Cooperation. In addition to these departments, they concentrate on research and information dissemination for controversial issues such as biodiversity[1], biotechnology[2], and bioenergy[3].

Much of their attempts towards educating and informing is achieved through their publications and statistics departments.

Publications and Statistics

In addition to the various technical papers and farmer/manager manual mentioned above, the FAO is responsible for four major reports:

• The State of Food and Agriculture (SOFA)

• The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture (SOFIA)

• State of the World's Forests (SOFO)

• The State of Food Insecurity in the World (SOFI)

• The State of Agricultural Commodity Markets (SOCO)

These reports are generally considered authoritative material on their subjects, and are quoted world-wide in academia and news reports. They can be found here: [4]

The FAO is a major source of development related statistics for aid agencies, governments, international organizations, academia, and businesses. They currently host 12 major statistical databases, which can be found here: [5]


The FAO is criticized on several points. Most notably, it is criticized for not doing enough to ensure that corporate giants like Monsanto and Syngenta do not contaminate the worlds seed supplies with hybrid and genetically engineered seeds. The crop from genetically modified seeds cannot generally be used as a seed for the next seasons crop, which means that if farmers seeds are contaminated by genetically modified seeds, they will become dependent on corporations like Monsanto for their seed supply.

The FAO is also criticized for tackling the worlds hunger problem from only one angle – production in the developing world. Critics argue that while it is necessary to ensure that poor farmers have the requisite tools and knowledge to produce efficiently, the FAO must tackle the agricultural policies of the developed world as well. They argue that excess agricultural produce from the developed world would be better utilized if it were used to feed the poor. Other critics argue that these excesses should be eliminated by eliminating subsides, for the subsidies reduce world agricultural commodity prices, making unviable for farmers in the developing world to produce agricultural commodities, and thus forcing the developing world to become dependant on first world aid.

Additionally, critics allege that the FAO is not transparent enough, and that the organization needs to undertake reforms to ensure transparency. The FAO has taken this criticism on board, and now plans to reform the way ot functions. You can read more about the FAO’s reform program here. http://www.fao.org/iee-follow-up-committee/home-iee/en/


FAO of the UN
Rome Rome
Italy 00100

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