Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Part I

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.  

  • Its Latin motto, fiat panis, translates to "let there be bread". Founded in October 1945,  the FAO is the oldest existing agency of the U.N.  
  • The FAO is headquartered in Rome, Italy and maintains regional and field offices around  the world, operating in over 130 countries  
  • It helps governments and development agencies coordinate their activities to improve and develop agriculture, forestry, fisheries, and land and water resources.  
  • It also conducts research, provides technical assistance to projects, operates educational and training programs, and collects data on agricultural output, production, and development.  
  • Composed of 197 member states, the FAO is governed by a biennial conference representing each member country and the European Union, which elects a 49-member  executive council.  
  • The Director-General serves as the chief administrative officer.  
  • There are various committees governing matters such as finance, programs, agriculture,  and fisheries 
  • Every year, the FAO publishes a number of major ‘State of the World’ reports related to food, agriculture, forestry, fisheries and natural resources.

Role and Functions of Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO) 

Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) is a global organisation and its functions can be listed  as follows: 

  • Helping Governments and Development Agencies coordinate their activities which are targeted to develop and improve agriculture, fisheries, forestry and other water and land resources. 
  • Conducting research and providing technical assistance to various projects related to improving agricultural output and development. 
  • Conducting training and educational programs and also collecting and analyzing agricultural data to improve yield and production. 

Other functions include dealing with matters related to Food and Agriculture around the world.  It also executes current and prospective activities of the Organisation including its Programme of  Work and Budget, administrative matters and financial management of the Organisation and constitutional matters. 

FAO Council 


Established by the Conference at its Third Session (1947) to replace the original  “Executive Committee of FAO” in accordance with a recommendation of the Preparatory Commission on World Food Proposals. 


The Council, within the limits of the powers, acts as the Conference’s executive organ between sessions. 

  • It exercises functions dealing with the world food and agriculture situation and related matters, current and prospective activities of the Organization, including its Programme of Work and Budget, administrative matters and financial management of the  Organization and constitutional matters. 


FAO is composed of eight departments: Agriculture and Consumer Protection, Climate,  Biodiversity, Land and Water Department, Economic and Social Development, Fisheries and  Aquaculture, Forestry, Corporate Services and Technical Cooperation and Programme  Management.

Priority Work Areas 

FAO has outlined the following priorities in its fight against hunger  

  • Help eliminate hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition – contribute to the eradication of hunger by facilitating policies and political commitments to support food security and by making sure that up-to-date information about hunger and nutrition challenges and solutions is available and accessible. 
  • Make agriculture, forestry and fisheries more productive and sustainable – promote evidence-based policies and practices to support highly productive agricultural sectors  (crops, livestock, forestry and fisheries), while ensuring that the natural resource base does not suffer in the process. 
  • Reduce rural poverty – help the rural poor gain access to the resources and services they need – including rural employment and social protection – to forge a path out of  poverty. 
  • Enable inclusive and efficient agricultural and food systems – help to build safe and efficient food systems that support smallholder agriculture and reduce poverty and hunger in rural areas. 
  • Increase the resilience of livelihoods to threats and crises – help countries to prepare for natural and human-caused disasters by reducing their risk and enhancing the resilience of their food and agricultural systems. 

Two fundamental areas of work – gender and governance - are fully integrated in the above  strategic objective action plans 


Food and agriculture in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development 

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the 17 Sustainable Development  Goals (SDGs), are global objectives that succeeded the Millennium Development Goals on 1 January 2016. The SDGs will shape national development plans over the next 15 years. From ending poverty and hunger to responding to climate change and sustaining our natural resources, food and agriculture lie at the heart of the 2030 Agenda. 

FAO and India 

The Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations has enjoyed a valuable partnership  with India since it began operations in 1945. It continues to play a major role in India’s progress  in the areas of crops, livestock, fisheries, food security, and management of natural resources. 

  • The main objective of the Indian Government is to double the income of farmers by  increasing efficiency and ensuring equity in a sustainable manner. 
  • The NITI Aayog is the country’s premier policy-making institution which is expected to  bolster the economic growth of the country. Its various policies and agendas represent the encircling framework for the Agricultural Sector. 

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Blog Post written by:
Anurag Trivedi
UPSC Mentor