Hunger and malnutrition continue to persist in a world of wealth, and this fact is repeatedly brought forward by both individual countries and the international community. The eradication of extreme poverty and hunger is the first of the eight United Nations Millennium Development Goals, global targets set by the world's leaders at the Millennium Summit in New York in September 2000. The ambitious agenda of this first goal is to cut the number of poor and hungry people in half by the year 2015, a target initially set at the World Food Summit organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Rome in 1996.

FAO leads international efforts to defeat hunger. Its mission is to help build a food-secure world for present and future generations. Achieving food security for all is at the heart of FAO's efforts - to make sure that people have regular access to enough high-quality food to lead active, healthy lives. Because the vast majority of the hungry and undernourished people live in rural areas, FAO pursues the goals of reducing the numbers of chronically undernourished people and of ensuring that agriculture and rural areas become economically viable. This in turn will contribute to economic and social progress and to the well-being of all. In carrying out its work towards these goals, FAO strives to ensure that natural resources are used sustainably.

Serving both developed and developing countries, FAO acts as a neutral forum where all nations meet as equals to negotiate agreements and debate policy. FAO is also a source of knowledge and information. It helps developing countries and countries in transition to modernize and improve agriculture, forestry and fisheries prac tices and to ensure good nutrition for all. Since the founding of the Organisation in 1945, it has focused special attention on developing rural areas, home to 70 percent of the world's poor and hungry people.

One part of FAO's work is to encourage experience sharing in the fields of agriculture and rural development worldwide, and to contribute to decision-making capacities for sustainable agricultural development in developing countries. Economic adjustments and liberalization policies in many countries have brought about renewed interest in and lent an increased sense of urgency to the task of formulating policies and strategies for the agricultural and natural resource sectors, including forestry and fisheries.

Agricultural Development Policy - Concepts and Experiences is part of FAO's work to ensure an enabling policy environment for agriculture at both a global level, in the context of international regulatory frameworks and commitments, and at a country level through appropriate strategies and policies. This book offers lessons of international experience and research, showing how agricultural policies need to be incorporated fully into a broader framework of economic policies, linking them with macroeconomic as well as sub-sectoral policies.

The book highlights that agricultural growth is crucial for economic development. History has shown that the development of an agricultural sector is a prerequisite for the subsequent progress of a country. Furthermore, as this sector is deeply interconnected with every other aspect of the economy, agricultural development is a major determinant for the growth of rural economies, including the rural non-farm sector. Agriculture is thus essential for rural and urban poverty reduction, and it remains a key sector for the economies of many developing countries. Even if its share in economic growth declines with development, it will remain a crucial sector for food security.

It is our hope that Agricultural Development Policy - Concepts and Experiences will widely contribute to improving the policy environment for agriculture at national level, and to policy and regulatory frameworks at the international level, including investment support and a trading environment favorable to the agriculture sector of developing countries. By drawing attention to the closely linked effect of agriculture on all other aspects of the economy, and thus of agriculture's central place in economic policies, the book proposes a vision that goes beyond the institutional confines of Ministries of Agriculture to encompass a multiplicity of stakeholders, interests and aspirations.

Santiago Funes Director

Policy Assistance Division Food and Agriculture Organization of the

United Nations

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