World nutrition, c.1946

Stanley Melbourne Bruce introduces the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation and its purpose. 

NAA: M4254, 35

I was delighted to learn that the Australian Broadcasting Commission was arranging a series of talks dealing with the activities of the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation.

How many of you know what is the Food and Agricultural Organisation? What are its objectives?  And what is the work that it is at present carrying out. I fear not many. And yet it is essential that we Australians should know these things. The reason is that Australia is responsible for initiating in 1935 the idea of informational cooperation.

The improvement of the standards of nutrition of all the nations of the world. Our objective was summarised at the time in the expression the marriage of health and agriculture.

So successful were our efforts that the great international organisations, known as the Food and Agricultural Organisation, with a membership now of some 58 nations, was created in Hotsprings in 1942.

The ideals of the organisation as expressed in its charter were:

  • To raise the level of nutrition and standards of living.
  • To improve the production and distribution of all foods and agricultural products.
  • To better the conditions of rural populations and thus to contribute to an expanding world economy.

These ideals all the member organisations are pledged, including Australia, who is still one of the leaders in this great movement. It constitutes an appealing humanitarian effort with which we must all be in sympathy.

I will give you only one example, to bring home to you how urgent is the need.

To a child born in India the expectation of life is under 30 years. In the more advanced countries that expectation is more than 70 years. In great measure this tragic difference is due to inadequate food in the backward countries.

But there is more to this movement than its humanitarian aim. It can and probably is the only sure basis upon which we can find a solution to unprecedented financial and economic problems that today confront the world.

It has been estimated that if by 1960, diet adequate for health are to be provided for all the people of the world. It will be necessary to produce 60 million more tons of cereal, 30 million more tons of meat, 250 million more tons of fruit and vegetables, and no less than 35,000 million more gallons of milk.

I fear it would be more over ambitious to hope to achieve that goal in the next eleven years.

If however we now set ourselves resoluted to the task of achieving the increased production to assure diet adequate for health for all people.

Over the next three or four decades think what it would mean for agriculture and the world.