Food and Agriculture Organization

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Food and Agriculture Organization

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), specialized agency of the United Nations, established in 1945. Its headquarters is in Rome, and it has a number of regional, subregional, and liaison offices around the world. The organization is governed by a conference composed of the entire membership (191 nations plus the European Union and the Faeroe Islands), which meets at least once biennially, and by a council of 49 members. Each region is allocated a fixed number of seats, 33 of which are from Third World areas. It reports to the Economic and Social Council annually. Managed by a director-general, it carries out about one third of the programs of other UN development agencies. The objective of the FAO is to lead international efforts to defeat hunger, contributing to an expanding world economy by promoting sustainable rural development with emphasis on the poorest farmers, promoting food production and self-reliance, and raising nutrition levels. The FAO has no mandatory powers but seeks to accomplish its purposes by making investigations, publishing reports, and organizing conferences; it offers technical aid, improves seeds, develops serums and vaccines, and aids in increasing forestry yields. The program operations are conducted by standing committees, such as those on agriculture, fisheries, and world food security. Programs are implemented at the request of the host country.

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