The Food and Agriculture Organization (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 agreements and debate policy. FAO is also a source of knowledge and information, and helps developing countries and countries in transition modernize and improve agriculture, forestry and fisheries practices, ensuring good nutrition and food security for all. Its Latin motto, fiat panis, translates into English as "let there be bread".
In 1943 a conference was held in Hot Springs, Virginia, United States. Here 44 governments committed themselves to founding a permanent organization for food and agriculture. This organiszation, FAO, was founded on 16 October 1945 in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. In 1951 its headquarters were moved from Washington, D.C., United States, to Rome, Italy. As of 11 April 2006, it had 190 members (189 states and the European Community).
FAO's mandate is to raise levels of nutrition, improve agricultural productivity, better the lives of rural populations and contribute to the growth of the world economy. Achieving food security for all is at the heart of FAO's efforts – to make sure people have regular access to enough high-quality food to lead active, healthy lives.
FAO is a key player in emergencies. Its focus is on food production and agriculture, reflecting its specialization and responsibility within the United Nations family. Assisting in preventing disaster-related emergencies, providing early warnings of food emergencies and helping in rehabilitation of food production systems are FAO's predominant roles in humanitarian aid. The main forms of FAO's intervention include needs assessments, provision of agricultural inputs and technical assistance for the planning and management of sustainable recovery and rehabilitation of rural production systems. Conscious of the high costs of emergency operations, FAO continuously seeks to prevent disaster-related emergencies; however, should they occur, FAO seeks to mitigate their impact and to accelerate a recovery process that will lead to sustainable agricultural development. FAO’s delivery of relief and rehabilitation assistance has more than tripled in the past ten years.
FAO's work in emergencies began in the Sahel region of Africa in the early 1970s and developed quickly after the 1994 conflict in Rwanda. Other emergency activities have ranged from helping vulnerable farmers in Angola, Indonesia and Sierra Leone, ex-soldiers and the rural poor in the Philippines and Tajikistan, small-scale subsistence fishers in Sudan, flood-affected households in Cambodia, Ecuador and Viet Nam, and drought-affected families in Nicaragua and Sri Lanka. FAO is currently engaged in emergency programmes including Tsunami reconstruction, Avian influenza and locust control.
Since 1981 the founding date of FAO, 16 October, is celebrated as World Food Day.
The photo shows an Albanian woman leading her cow past a stack of hay (photo: FAO/C. Grace).
The website of FAO.
FAO in Wikipedia.
The flag of FAO in Flags of the World.
Related persons - recipients of the Agricola Medal
1998 John Paul II
2002 Schuster, Rudolf
Related persons - recipients of the Ceres Medal
1973 Gandhi, Indira
1975 Teresa, Mother
2001 Fabiola, queen of
Stamp catalogue - general issues
last revised: 27 June 2009