Lead agency in the United Nations system for agriculture,
forestry, fisheries and rural development.
The largest specialized agency in the United Nations system: FAO
has been fighting world poverty and hunger by working for agricultural development,
improved nutrition and food security since its inception in 1945. It now has 174 Member
Nations and one Member Organization, the European Community (EC).
The functions of FAO: the Organization collects, analyses and
disseminates information; advises governments on policy and planning; serves as an
international forum for discussing food and agricultural issues, and approving
international standards and agreements; and provides direct aid for development. It also
intervenes in times of crisis when food production and distribution are disrupted by human
or natural disasters such as war, drought and insect infestations.
An emphasis on sustainable agriculture and rural development:
the aim is to satisfy the needs of the present and future generations through programmes
that do not harm the environment and that are technically appropriate, economically viable
and socially acceptable.
Over 50 years of development experience: established on 16
October 1945, FAO has built up a formidable range of expertise and information. Its budget
for the 1996-1997 biennium has been set at US$ 650 million and each year it mobilizes
investments in agricultural and rural development valued at around US$ 3 billion from
donor bodies and governments.