WFP’s First Executive Director, A.H. Boerma, served from May 1962 to December 1967. A Dutch citizen born 1912, Mr. Boerma graduated in horticulture and agricultural economics from the Agricultural University at Wageningen in 1934. From then almost to the outbreak of the Second World War he was employed by a Dutch farmers organisation helping to set up agricultural cooperatives and provide advisory and insurance services, as well as representing farmers in negotiations with the government on pricing policies.
From 1938, Mr. Boerma was a government officer in charge of planning food supplies in the event of war. In 1944, during the Second World War, he was smuggled out of the enemy-occupied Holland by British agents and flown to London to help plan relief supplies for the Netherlands, and became one of the commissioners responsible for overseeing the reconstruction of the Dutch agricultural economy after the war. From 1945, he was acting Director General for food for the Netherlands, government commissioner for Foreign Agricultural Relations, and Netherlands representative on the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) council.
He joined the staff of FAO in 1948 and until 1951 was the regional representative for Europe based in Rome. In 1951, Boerma became Director of FAO’s Economics Division. In 1958, he was made head of FAO’s Program and Budget Service and in 1960 was promoted to Assistant Director General. He was elected as FAO’s Director-General in 1967. For his services during and after the war, Boerma was made a Knight in the Order of the Dutch Lion, the highest civil order in the Netherlands, a Commander in the Order of Leopold II of Belgium, and Officer du Merit Agricole Of France.