As expressed in the preamble to the FAO constitution, member states are pledged to promote the common welfare through separate and collective action to raise levels of nutrition and standards of living, improve the efficiency of the production and distribution of all food and agricultural products, better the conditions of rural populations, and thus contribute toward an expanding world economy and ensure humanity's freedom from hunger. Specifically, FAO is charged with collecting, evaluating, and disseminating information relating to nutrition, food, and agriculture and associated areas, including fisheries, marine products, forestry, and primary forestry products.
FAO is committed to promoting and, where appropriate, recommending national and international action with respect to the following: (a) scientific, technological, social, and economic research relating to nutrition, food, and agriculture; (b) improvement of education and administration relating to nutrition, food, and agriculture and the spread of public knowledge of nutritional and agricultural science and practice; (c) conservation of natural resources and the adoption of improved methods of agricultural production; (d) improvement of the processing, marketing, and distribution of food and agricultural products;(e) adoption of policies for the provision of adequate agricultural credit, national and international; and (f) adoption of international policies on agricultural commodity arrangements. The FAO also plays a major role in dealing with food and agricultural emergencies such as drought, famine, plant diseases, and insect plagues.
Other functions of FAO are to furnish such technical assistance as governments may request; to organize, in cooperation with the governments concerned, such missions as may be needed to assist them in fulfilling obligations arising from their acceptance of the recommendations of the UN Conference on Food and Agriculture and of its constitution; and, generally, to take all necessary and appropriate action to implement the purposes of the organization as set forth in the preamble.