World Food Day, 2004
October 16























about the day      


World Food Day (WFD) was established by FAO's Member Countries at the Organization's Twentieth General Conference in November 1979. The date chosen - 16 October - is the anniversary of FAO.

It bas since been observed every year in more than 150 countries.


WFD provides a reminder of FAO's constant search for a long-term solution to the problem of hunger and poverty in the world. WFD was created with the goal that "food for all" should become a human right for present and future generations.

WFD's objectives are:

  • to heighten public awareness of the problem of hunger in the world;

  • to encourage attention to agricultural food production and to stimulate national, bilateral, multilateral and non-governmental efforts to this end;

  • to promote the transfer of technologies to the Third World;

  • to strengthen international and national solidarity in the struggle against hunger, malnutrition and poverty and draw attention to achievements in food and agricultural development;

  • to encourage the participation of rural people, particularly women and the least privileged categories, in decisions and activities influencing their living conditions;

  • to encourage economic and technical cooperation among developing countries.


WFD activities are organized mainly by participating countries, with due assistance from FAO. The Unit for Liaison with National Committees (GIDN) at FAO Headquarters assists in the coordination of various programmes under the overall aegis of the General Affairs and Information Department.

Governments: Most countries have established National Committees to promote, plan and execute activities at national level.

Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs): NGOs take part in National Committees and they make an important contribution. In some countries, NGO coalitions are responsible for organizing WFD. A Global Confederation for WFD has been established.

Educational institutions: In many schools and institutions of learning, WFD focus is on developing awareness during the formative years and include essay or poetry competitions, workshops and round-tables, among other things.

Individuals: Participation of people at large is a main feature of WFD. In addition, individuals of standing in the community lend significant support to the objectives and activities of WFD.


WFD activities are carried out at local, national, regional and international levels. FAO Representatives and designated WFD Officers assist National WFD Committees and other participating organizations who decide the activities at the national level. In addition, a ceremony at FAO Headquarters is held on 16 October. Observances are also held by the FAO Regional Offices.

At the national and local levels, priority is given to activities in rural areas. The following list illustrates some of the types of activities that are organized:

  • Organization of agricultural fairs, exhibitions, visits to farms and/or farmers' markets to show the programmes carried out in the agricultural sector.

  • Organization of activities on the WFD theme by the National Committees with the active participation of NGOs as well as of peoples and farmers' organizations.

  • Organization of WFD activities within FAO field projects.

  • Preparation and distribution of materials for education on development for schools.

  • Round-tables, workshops and symposia on the WFD theme, reflecting national realities and problems.

  • Official recognition for food producers through prizes and/or trophies.

  • Distribution of food, money or agricultural inputs to needy persons and groups.

  • Initiation of new field projects related to food self-sufficiency.

  • Training and support to individuals and groups in the preparation of family or school-kitchen gardens.

  • Special, Government-issue, commemorative coins or stamps.

  • Tree-planting ceremonies and related activities.

  • FAO book fairs.

  • Drawing and/or poster competitions, essay-writing contests, etc.

How does Biodiversity benefit natural and agricultural ecosystems?

PRODUCTIVITY: Conservation and management of broad-based genetic diversity within domesticated species have been improving agricultural production for 10,000 years, however diverse natural populations have been providing food and other products for much longer. A wide range of species provides many thousands of products through agriculture and from the harvest of natural populations. High production levels are sustained through maximising the beneficial impact of ecosystem services for agricultural, modified and natural ecosystems.

ADAPTATION: A diverse range of organisms contributes to the resilience of agricultural and natural ecosystems, their capacity to recover from environmental stress and their ability to evolve. Informed adaptive management of agricultural and natural biodiversity, above and below ground and under water secures sustained production.

MAINTENANCE OF ECOSYSTEM FUNCTIONS: Essential functions such as nutrient cycling, decomposition of organic matter, crusted or degraded soil rehabilitation, pest and disease regulation, water quality, and pollination are maintained by a wide range of biologically diverse populations in natural ecosystems and in and near agricultural ecosystems. Maintaining this diversity of species and building on and enhancing ecosystem functions reduces external input requirements by increased nutrient availability, improved water use and soil structure, and natural control of pests.

How does farming benefit Biodiversity?

DELIVERY OF ECOSYSTEM SERVICES: Agriculture occupies more than one third of the land in most countries of the world. Agricultural systems managed sustainably as ecosystems contribute to wider ecosystem functions such as maintenance of water quality, waste removal, soil moisture retention with reduction of runoff, water infiltration, erosion control, carbon sequestration, pollination, dispersal of seeds of wild and endangered plants, and refugia for species during droughts.

INCENTIVES: A range of populations needed by agriculture such as pollinators and beneficial predators need habitat diversity to survive. Agriculture therefore provides incentives to preserve areas such as hedgerows and field borders. Farming of aquatic species often occurs in natural water bodies. Thus, here too aquaculture provides incentives to protect the aquatic environment from adverse impacts, for example from pollution and water diversion. The need for adaptation and potential for improvement in productivity provides an incentive for the conservation of a diverse range of genetic resources both in situ and ex situ.

ECOLOGICAL KNOWLEDGE: A large part of the human legacy of knowledge of biodiversity, its importance, and functions have been gained and will continue to be gained across cultures through agriculture practices, as well as that gained from the harvesting of natural populations. This is a resource that should be more actively used, as in schools' programmes, to strengthen the ecological literacy of all citizens.



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