Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Part II

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger and improve nutrition and food security.  

In our previous blog, we discussed FAO’s origin, its role & purpose, institutional mechanism, SDG and FAO’s relation with India. In this blog, we will look at FAO’s various Programmes and achievements.

Programmes and Achievements 

1. FOOD 

Codex Alimentarius 

FAO and the World Health Organization created the Codex Alimentarius Commission in 1961 to develop food standards. The main aims of the programme are protecting consumer health,  ensuring fair trade and promoting coordination of all food standards work undertaken by an intergovernmental and non-governmental organization.  


In 1997, FAO launched TeleFood, a campaign of concerts, sporting events and other activities to harness the power of media, celebrities and concerned citizens to help fight hunger. Since its start, the campaign has generated close to US$28 million, €15 million in donations. Money raised through TeleFood pays for small, sustainable projects that help small-scale farmers produce more food for their families and communities.

FAO Goodwill Ambassadors 

The FAO Goodwill Ambassadors Programme was initiated in 1999. The main purpose of the programme is to attract public and media attention to the unacceptable situation that some 1  billion people continue to suffer from chronic hunger and malnutrition in a time of unprecedented abundance. These people lead a life of misery and are denied the most basic of human rights: the right to food.  

Governments alone cannot end hunger and undernourishment. Mobilization of the public and private sectors, the involvement of civil society and the pooling of collective and individual resources are all needed if people are to break out of the vicious circle of chronic hunger and undernourishment.  

Right to Food Guidelines 

In 2004 the Right to Food Guidelines was adopted, offering guidance to states on how to implement their obligations on the right to food. 

Food Security Programmes 

The Special Programme for Food Security is FAO's flagship initiative for reaching the goal of halving the number of hungry in the world by 2015 (currently estimated at close to 1 billion people), as part of its commitment to the Millennium Development Goals. Through projects in over 100 countries worldwide, the programme promotes effective, tangible solutions to the elimination of hunger, undernourishment and poverty.  

Online Campaign Against Hunger 

The 1billionhungry project became the EndingHunger campaign in April 2011. Spearheaded by  FAO in partnership with other UN agencies and private nonprofit groups, the EndingHunger movement pushes the boundaries of conventional public advocacy. It builds on the success in  2010 of The 1billonhungry project and the subsequent chain of public events that led to the collection of over three million signatures on a global petition to end hunger  ( The petition was originally presented to representatives of world governments at a ceremony in Rome on 30 November 2010. 

2. Agriculture 

International Plant Protection Convention 

FAO created the International Plant Protection Convention or IPPC in 1952. This international treaty organization works to prevent the international spread of pests and plant diseases in both cultivated and wild plants. Among its functions are the maintenance of lists of plant pests,  tracking of pest outbreaks, and coordination of technical assistance between member nations.  As of July 2018, 183 contracting parties have ratified the treaty. 

Plant Treaty (ITPGRFA) 

FAO is a depositary of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and  Agriculture, also called Plant Treaty, Seed Treaty or ITPGRFA, entered into force on 29 June  2004.  

Alliance Against Hunger and Malnutrition 

The Alliance Against Hunger and Malnutrition (AAHM) aims to address how countries and organizations can be more effective in advocating and carrying out actions to address hunger and malnutrition. As a global partnership, AAHM creates global connections between local,  regional, national and international institutions that share the goals of fighting hunger and malnutrition. The organization works to address food security by enhancing resources and knowledge sharing and strengthening hunger activities within countries and across state lines at the regional and international levels.  

Integrated Pest Management 

During the 1990s, FAO took a leading role in the promotion of integrated pest management for rice production in Asia. Hundreds of thousands of farmers were trained using an approach known as the Farmer Field School (FFS). 

Global Partnership Initiative for Plant Breeding Capacity Building 

The Global Partnership Initiative for Plant Breeding Capacity Building (GIPB) is a global partnership dedicated to increasing plant breeding capacity building. The mission of GIPB is to enhance the capacity of developing countries to improve crops for food security and sustainable development through better plant breeding and delivery systems. The ultimate goal is to ensure that a critical mass of plant breeders, leaders, managers and technicians, donors and partners are linked together through an effective global network.  

Investment in agriculture 

FAO's technical cooperation department hosts an Investment Centre that promotes greater investment in agriculture and rural development by helping developing countries identify and formulate sustainable agricultural policies, programmes and projects. It mobilizes funding from multilateral institutions such as the World Bank, regional development banks and international funds as well as FAO resources. 

Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS)

The Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) Partnership Initiative was conceptualized and presented by Parviz Koohafkan the Task Manager of Chapter 10 of Agenda  21 in Food and Agricultural Organization of United Nations, FAO in 2002 during World Summit 

on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa. This UN Partnership Initiative aims to identify, support and safeguard Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems and their livelihoods, agricultural and associated biodiversity, landscapes, knowledge systems and cultures around the world. The GIAHS Partnership recognizes the crucial importance of the well-being of family farming communities in an integrated approach while directing activities towards sustainable agriculture and rural development.  

Animal Genetic Resources 

FAO has a unit focused on Animal Genetic Resources, which are defined as “those animal species that are used, or may be used, for the production of food and agriculture, and the populations within each of them. These populations within each species can be classified as  wild and feral populations, landraces and primary populations, standardised breeds, selected  lines, varieties, strains and any conserved genetic material; all of which are currently  categorized as Breeds."[ FAO assists countries in the implementation of the Global Plan of Action for Animal Genetic Resources. FAO supports a variety of ex-situ and in situ conservation strategies including cryo conservation of animal genetic resources.  


One of FAO's strategic goals is the sustainable management of the world's forests. The Forestry  Department works to balance social and environmental considerations with the economic needs of rural populations living in forest areas. FAO serves as a neutral forum for policy dialogue, as a reliable source of information on forests and trees and as a provider of expert technical assistance and advice to help countries develop and implement effective national forest programmes.  

FAO is both a global clearinghouse for information on forests and forest resources and a  facilitator that helps build countries' local capacity to provide their own national forest data. In collaboration with member countries, FAO carries out periodic global assessments of forest resources, which are made available through reports, publications and the FAO's Website.


The FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department is defined through its vision and mission  statements:  

  • Vision: A world in which responsible and sustainable use of fisheries and aquaculture resources makes an appreciable contribution to human well-being, food security and poverty alleviation. 
  • Mission: To strengthen global governance and the managerial and technical capacities of members and to lead consensus-building towards improved conservation and utilization of aquatic resources.

The work of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Department centres on the "Sustainable management and use of fisheries and aquaculture resource," embracing normative as well as operational activities, whether implemented from headquarters or from the field. 


ESSG is an acronym for the Global Statistics Service, the major "section" of the United Nations'  Food and Agriculture Organization - Statistics Division. It is responsible for updating and disseminating the FAOSTAT report. This offers free and easy access to data for 245 countries and 35 regional areas from 1961 through the most recent year available. Enhanced features include browsing and analysis of data, an advanced interactive data download, and enhanced data exchange through web services.  

The Land and Water Division maintains a database of global water statistics, Aquastat.

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Blog Post written by:
Anurag Trivedi
UPSC Mentor