Agriculture is one of the foundations of national development. It helps feed a nation's population, provides employment and income and can prove a crucial source of foreign exchange earnings.
FAO works with governments to promote agricultural and rural development and to foster international cooperation on issues such as food standards, fair trade, environmental management and the conservation of genetic resources.
Drawing on its sophisticated information networks and on the skills of its technical staff, FAO is able to give independent advice on agricultural policy and planning, on the administrative and legal structures needed for development and on way s of ensuring that national strategies are directed towards rural development and the alleviation of poverty. FAO has Country Representatives covering more than 100 developing countries, providing a direct link to the Organization's resources. FAO also sends missions, often in conjunction with other agencies, to assess resources, offer advice on management strategies, review development programmes and assist in dealing with emergencies.
FAO's mediation at the international level has resulted in a number of intergovernmental
agreements, such as the International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources and the World Soil
Charter. The Organization works to improve regional coordin ation, particularly in the management
of shared resources - supporting the Amazonian Cooperation Treaty, for example. Through
TCDC, the Organization's programme for technical cooperation among developing countries,
FAO identifies opportunities for countries to share expertise and technical resources.