The newly re-elected director-general of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, Jacques Diouf, appealed to member countries Monday to back reform of the agency. The reform and a budget for the next two years is to be approved this week during the 33rd session of the FAO conference being held in Rome.

After being re-elected to a third term as director general of the United Nations food agency, Jacques Diouf called on Monday for member countries to back his reform proposal to make the organization less bureaucratic.

Dr. Diouf, 67, first elected head of FAO in 1993, will be director general for another six years. He says his reform proposal will help the agency work more effectively toward its goal of halving the number of hungry people in the world by 2015.

Dr. Diouf's reform plan includes reducing the international staff based at the agency's headquarters in Rome, hiring more local employees in the field and streamlining administration.

The FAO director general made his call during the 33rd session of the FAO Conference that opened Saturday. The week-long meeting is being attended by agriculture ministers from around the world.

Dr. Diouf reviewed the organization's main programs and actions of recent years, stressing its major role in the early warning of food crises, and provided examples of FAO's work over the past two years.

He said the agency has been very involved in providing assistance to communities affected by the Indian Ocean tsunami, a locust invasion in Africa, hurricanes in the Caribbean and the devastating earthquake in northern Pakistan.

Dr. Diouf also spoke about FAO's efforts in the latest crisis that it has been called to address, bird flu. "Since February 2004, FAO has been at the forefront of efforts to halt the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza. FAO and the World Organization for Animal Health considered that the most effective way of preventing a pandemic is to control the outbreak of bird flu at its source in the poultry farms," he said.

To be able to carry out its work effectively when dealing with these crises, the FAO director general appealed for more funds. He said the agency's funding for 2004-2005 had been cut by $51 million over the past two years.

A decision on the budget and the internal reform of the organization is expected to be approved this week