The new director-general, to be elected late June, will replace Jacques Diouf of Senegal, who has held the position since 1994.
The FAO, the largest U.N. agency, was founded in 1945 to raise nutritional standards and living conditions around the world. Since 2007 - when an independent panel found the agency was inefficient due to its centralized bureaucracy, high administrative costs and unclear priorities - the FAO has undergone reforms, including reducing term of its chief.
The new agency head takes over at the beginning of 2012, remains in charge until July 31, 2015, and is only eligible for one additional four-year term. Diouf has been elected three times for six-year terms.
The candidates are: Franz Fischler of Austria, previously an EU agriculture commissioner; Brazil's Jose Graziano da Silva, assistant general-director at FAO; Indroyono Soesilo, an Indonesian government official; veteran Iranian diplomat Mohammad Saeed Noori Naeini; Abdul-Latif Jamal Rashid, a former water minister for Iraq; and Spain's ex-foreign minister Miguel Angel Moratinos.
The new chief will be elected with a majority of votes during the next FAO conference, held June 25-July 2 in Rome. Each of FAO's 191 member nations has one vote and the ballot is secret.