Senior staff of the U.S. Mission to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Agencies (USUN Rome) addressed John Cabot University students on the functions of the three main Rome-based UN agencies – the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). Approximately twenty students are enrolled in this course on ‘International Organizations’. USUN Rome Senior staff members Michael Michener, Agricultural Counselor, USDA, and Elisabeth Kvitashvili, Humanitarian Counselor, USAID, discussed the three agencies’ operations and knowledge specialties.
Michael Michener explained how FAO is one of 15 UN-specialized agencies and highlighted that the origins of FAO arose from the need for market-sharing information among farmers around the world.
Elisabeth Kvitashvili explained how WFP are the “Marines of the UN”, whose core strength is responding quickly to emergency relief, while FAO houses unique technical experts focused on a variety of agricultural and nutrition-related themes. She further explained that IFAD, established in 1977, functions as a multilateral financial institution whose goal is to reduce rural poverty and enhance long-term food security.
Elisabeth and Michael noted how all three organizations are partners in the goal to achieve global food security. And they emphasized that this goal is even more paramount today, as the United Nations estimates that we will need to increase global food production by 70 percent by the year 2050 to meet the growing demand by a growing population.
A lively 35-minute question-and-answer session followed, as the students were well aware of these organizations’ current events. For example, a young female student inquired as to what the organizations are doing to strive towards the Millennium Development goal of cutting the number of hungry in half by 2015. Elisabeth pointedly answered that, “more money is not the answer. Rather, it’s about improving government structure within host countries to allow for internal and external greater investment by including farmers; an increase in the global community’s support for agricultural research that may lead to a new green revolution; and improved agricultural farming practices.”