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What it is

The Food and Agriculture Organization was founded in 1945 with a mandate to raise levels of nutrition and standards of living, to improve agricultural productivity, and to better the condition of rural populations.

Today, FAO is the largest specialized agency in the United Nations system and the lead agency for agriculture, forestry, fisheries, and rural development. An intergovernmental organization, FAO has 175 Member Nations plus a member organization, the European Community.

Since its inception, FAO has worked to alleviate poverty and hunger by promoting agricultural development, improved nutrition and the pursuit of food security - the access of all people at all times to the food they need for an active and healthy life.

A specific priority of the Organization is encouraging sustainable agriculture and rural development, a long-term strategy for increasing food production and food security while conserving and managing natural resources. The aim is to meet the needs of both present and future generations by promoting development that does not degrade the environment and is technically appropriate, economically viable and socially acceptable.

What it does

Development assistance

FAO gives practical help to developing countries through a wide range of technical assistance projects. The Organization encourages an integrated approach, with environmental, social, and economic considerations included in the formulation of development projects.


FAO collects, analyses, interprets, and disseminates information relating to nutrition, food, agriculture, forestry, and fisheries. The Organization serves as a clearing-house, providing farmers, scientists, traders, and government planners with the information they need to make rational decisions on planning, investment, marketing, research or training.

Advice to governments

Drawing on its widespread information networks and the skills and experience of its technical staff, FAO provides independent advice on agricultural policy and planning, and the administrative and legal structures needed for development. It includes national strategies towards rural development, increased food security, and the alleviation of poverty.

Neutral forum

FAO provides a neutral forum where all nations can meet to discuss and formulate policy on major food and agriculture issues. FAO approves international standards and helps frame international conventions and agreements, and regularly hosts major conferences, technical meetings and expert consultation.

Dated: 23 July 2000