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Food aid

The origins of food aid can be traced back to the early 1950s, when some developed countries wanted to dispose of their accumulated food surpluses (mostly cereals). Recognizing the possibility that surplus disposal could displace commercial imports and discourage local production in recipient countries, the international community established in 1954 the FAO Principles of Surplus Disposal (the Principles). These Principles are an international code of conduct that encourage the constructive use of disposal of surplus agricultural commodities, while safeguarding the interests of commercial exporters and local producers.

The importance of food aid in addressing certain food insecurity issues was also recognized when, in 1967, food aid donors signed the Food Aid Convention (FAC). This treaty aimed at enhancing the capacity of the international community to respond to food aid needs by setting the minimum level of food aid that countries were willing to provide, thus guaranteeing a predictable flow of food aid independent of price or supply fluctuations.

In 1995, both of these international instruments became an integral part of the WTO Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture (AoA), which stipulated that food aid transactions should be carried out in accordance with the Principles and should to the extent possible take the form of grants or be made on terms no less concessional than those provided for in the FAC.