Six hot reads this World Book Day

From disasters to diets, here are some recommended publications from FAO

Dive into FAO’s recommended reading – there’s something for everyone! ©FAO


23 April is a symbolic date for world literature. It is on that date in 1616 that Miguel de Cervantes, William Shakespeare and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega all died, while it is also the birthday of many other famous authors, including Maurice Druon and Manuel Mejía Vallejo. In fact, that’s why 23 April was designated as World Book and Copyright Day! It’s a chance to celebrate books, authors, publishing and everything reading-related.

And with that in mind, what better time is there to delve into some new reading material? FAO produces many publications every year on a wide range of topics ranging from climate change and COVID-19 to forests and food security. Many publications are available in six languages too, so whether you’re looking to boost your knowledge or learn something new, there’s a publication for everyone.

To celebrate World Book Day, the FAO team has put together some highlights – so have a browse and dive on in. 

COVID-19 and the risk to food supply chains: How to respond?

It would be impossible to recommend reading and not mention FAO’s range of material on the topic of the year: COVID-19. This policy brief discusses the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on supply chains around the world, examining the complex web of interactions involving farmers, agricultural inputs, processing plants, shipping and retailers and outlining how they have been affected. It then goes on to recommend measures to keep supply chains going in these times of crisis.

The impact of disasters and crises on agriculture and food security: 2021

In the last couple of years, we’ve seen many natural disasters and crises, from megafires and desert locust swarms to extreme weather events and, of course, the recent pandemic. But how have these affected the agriculture sector? 

Agriculture underpins the livelihoods of over 2.5 billion people – most of them in low-income developing countries – and remains a key driver of development. At no other point in history has agriculture been faced with such an array of risks. This report makes a powerful case for investing in resilience and disaster risk reduction to ensure agriculture maintains a crucial role in achieving the future we want.

COVID-19 has affected food systems, supply chains and agriculture the world over. Some of FAO’s newest publications explore the issue. Left/top: © FAO/Petterik Wiggers Right/bottom: ©FAO

The magical world of soil biodiversity 

Soils aren’t just ‘dirt’ – they’re full of organisms that keep soil, plants and our planet healthy. In fact, soils are home to 25 percent of the world’s biodiversity! For that reason, FAO, the International Union of Soil Sciences and the Global Soil Partnership

launched a writing competition to produce a children’s book on soil biodiversity. This publication proudly presents a collection of ten of these stories written by a diverse, global mix of soil scientists, researchers, teachers, students and designers from around the world. Each story is told in a fun, beautiful and unique way to help children discover those remarkable and hidden soil animals and organisms that do so much hard work.

Fruit and vegetables – your dietary essentials

2021 has been designated the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables with the aim of raising awareness of the nutritional and health benefits of eating fruit and vegetables. From tomatoes and lettuce to dragonfruit and papaya, fruits and vegetables are essential to balanced and healthy diets and lifestyles.

This paper outlines exactly why fruit and vegetable consumption is so good for us, and delves into the supply chains that bring them to our plates. From sustainable production and trade to loss and waste management, the paper also focuses on a significant challenge: how can we reduce the loss and waste of fruits and vegetables?

2021 is the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables, so it’s time to ask ourselves: how can we reduce their loss and waste? ©FAO/Deyan Georgiev

The State of Food and Agriculture 2020: Overcoming water challenges in agriculture

Our population is growing and, as a consequence, so is our use of water. Water, however, is a finite resource, and its increasing scarcity threatens food security and nutrition. In order to ensure there is enough water to nourish crops and provide food security for everyone, we need to make water use in agriculture is more sustainable and equitable. 

The State of Food and Agriculture 2020 examines the problem, presenting new estimates on the pervasiveness of water scarcity and water shortages, as well as on the number of people affected. Based on this, the publication also offers guidance on how we can move forward.

FAO at 75 - Grow, nourish, sustain. Together 

Born in 1945, FAO was established to increase farm productivity around the world and make famines a thing of the past. Over the following 75 years, FAO’s goal evolved, taking into account the environmental and sustainability considerations that are such an important part of agriculture today. 

This book – available in online, e-reader and audio formats –  gives a broad history of FAO and its evolution over the past 75 years, celebrating its successes and laying out its intentions for the future. As the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbates vulnerabilities linked to conflict and climate change, FAO is looking to advanced research partnerships, digitalisation, and wall-to-wall innovation to help end hunger and malnutrition.

These six are just a tiny selection of what FAO has to offer. If this list has tickled your fancy, why not check out FAO’s Publications page? And this user-friendly catalogue features all of FAO’s most popular publications series, divided into topics including agriculture, forestry, fisheries, trade and investment. Whatever your interest, FAO has you covered.  This World Book Day, turn the page and take a chance on something new!

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