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International development experts share their ideas on how wealthy countries can promote prosperity in developing countries. Follow at

Oct 22, 2013

My guest on this week’s Global Prosperity Wonkcast is CGD expert Vijaya Ramachandran, here to speak  to us about the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. The FAO is the leading global institution dedicated to raising agricultural productivity, but a new report from CGD says that the FAO, despite its respected status as the premier global food agency, risks squandering its potential when demand for food is rapidly rising and supplies are threatened.

Vijaya is head of the working group that produced the report, Time for FAO to Shift into a Higher Gear, which says that the FAO should stop supporting pet projects of various agricultural ministers and instead should focus on global public goods, such as coordinating research to raise agricultural productivity, fostering global data gathering and monitoring, and implementing early-warning systems for plant diseases and pests. The FAO should support global public goods because no single country can do it on its own. “Now more than ever before, the world needs an effective FAO,” she says. “The FAO is uniquely placed to help prevent more widespread hunger in the face of adverse global trends. But it won’t succeed if it continues to putter along with business as usual.”