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The vision of FAO's founders

The Food and Agriculture Organization is born out of the idea of freedom from want ... Freedom from want... means the conquest of hunger and the attainment of the ordinary needs of a decent, self-respecting life ...

This generation goes beyond the conviction that freedom from want can be achieved and believes that the effort to achieve it has become imperative... Thus the Food and Agriculture Organization is born out of the need for peace as well as the need for freedom from want. The two are interdependent. Peace is essential if there is to be progress toward freedom from want ... Progress toward freedom from want is essential to lasting peace ...

If there is any one fundamental principle on which FAO is based, it is that the welfare of producers and the welfare of consumers are in the final analysis identical... Wherever the contrary seems to be true, it is because all of the factors have not been taken into account, including the risk of social upheavals and wars. There is always a larger framework in which producer and consumer interests are seen to be the same. It will be the business of FAO to seek and to emphasize this larger framework, this whole view, as a basis for the reconciliation of differences and for progress toward freedom from want and higher levels of living for all.

For in world councils and international affairs, FAO speaks both for those who produce - the farmers, the forest producers, the fishermen - and for those who consume... On one side are the great, unsatisfied needs of people as consumers; on the other, the great, untapped possibilities of improving and increasing production. FAO is founded on the belief that the needs and the production capacity must be brought together as directly as possible, one being integrated constantly with the other, and that if this can be done within and among nations by their separate and collective action, some of the world's worst economic ills, including the hunger and extreme poverty that attend great masses of mankind, will be on the way to extinction...

Knowledge about better production methods, better processing and distribution, and better use of foods is available and can be spread fairly readily. How to get it put into practice on the necessary scale is the problem ... To surmount these difficulties will call for all the wisdom and will that nations, acting by themselves as well as through FAO and other international organizations, can muster. It is not a short or simple task.

... aid given by FAO to the less advanced countries will benefit the others almost as much. It can play a large part in curing certain long-standing social ills and creating an economically healthy world, without which all nations face an insecure future.

There is a still more fundamental aspect of FAO's work. Over those parts of the earth not covered by water lies a thin crust of soil ... Much of this soil is inaccessible for cultivation, or it is unusable for other reasons. From the rest, the world's growing population... must draw all their sustenance except what they get from the sea; and even the fishes, like all other living things, are fed in the final analysis out of the fertility of the land. Whether this thin layer of soil is to be a wasting asset or one maintained in perpetuity and made more fruitful for mankind will depend on how it is used and managed. Nothing more deeply concerns the well-being of men and nations. FAO is dedicated to furthering good use and good management, in all ways and by all peoples, of this most basic of man's resources.

Extracts from The Work of FAO: A General Report to the First Session of the Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, prepared by the United Nations Interim Commission on Food and Agriculture and subsequently published in August 1945.

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