Press Release 97/59
FAO GOVERNING CONFERENCE MEETS NOV. 7 - 18 AS FIRST ESTIMATES INDICATE SLOWDOWN
IN 1997 CROP AND LIVESTOCK PRODUCTION FOLLOWING A BUOYANT 1996, WHILE FOOD AID SHOWS
A SHARP DROP IN 1996-97.
ROME, November 5 -- The Conference of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization
(FAO) begins its 29th session on Friday, 7 November as first estimates of world crop
and livestock production in 1997 point to an increase of only 1.1 percent after 1996
showed an rise of 3.6 percent over 1995.
The biennial FAO Conference brings together Agriculture Ministers and senior officials
from FAO’s 175 Members. They will decide FAO’s Programme of Work and Budget for the
next two years, examine the global state of food and agriculture and receive the
annual report on The State of Food and Agriculture 1997. The Conference
will also review follow-up activities to the 1996 World Food Summit, and discuss
various issues related to sustainable agricultural development.
FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf will open the Conference Friday when the meeting
elects its Chairman and Vice-Chairmen and votes on Kazakstan’s application for membership
of FAO as well as awarding three FAO prizes: the A.H. Boerma Award for journalists,
the B.R. Sen Award for outstanding field experts, and the Edouard Saouma Award for
On November 11, President Omar Bongo of Gabon will deliver the 20th McDougall Lecture,
instituted to commemorate the late F.L. McDougall, who played a leading role in the
foundation of FAO.
In his introduction to the proposed Programme of Work and Budget, Dr. Diouf writes:
“The next biennium should see FAO being fully active, together with a broad range
of partners, in assisting Member Nations in the achievement of the World Food Summit
commitments. Summit follow-up and the goal of sustainable food security for all were
clearly among the prime movers in the design of the Programme of Work for 1998-99.”
The State of Food and Agriculture 1997, an annual report detailing
global developments in food and agriculture issues, will be released during the Conference
with a special chapter on the Agroprocessing Industry and Economic Development.
A supplementary document to be issued during the Conference gives FAO’s latest revised
estimates for total crop and livestock production. The current estimates now point
to an increase in total production at the global level of 3.6 percent in 1996 over
1995, up from an earlier estimate of 2.6 percent.
FAO’s tentative first estimates for production in 1997 put the expansion in global
agricultural production in 1997 at only 1.1 percent, a significant slowdown in production
growth compared to the relatively buoyant 1996 performance in both the developed
and developing countries.
At the same time, the latest information on food aid in 1996/97 shows a sharp drop
of 37 percent to 4.9 million tons, the lowest level since the start of food aid
programmes in the mid-1950s, while official development assistance to agriculture
continued to decline for the 11th year according to FAO’s figures.
As well as examining the state of food and agriculture in the world, the Conference
will examine FAO’s Programme of Work and Budget for the years 1998 and 1999 submitted
by the Director-General. It outlines two funding levels. A zero real growth proposal
of $675.3 million and a zero nominal growth budget of $650 million, which would result
in program cuts to offset increased costs.
FAO has made efforts to protect, as much as possible, the priority areas in its
programme which include:
The International Plant Protection Convention
The Code of Conduct for Pesticides
The Codex Alimentarius
Conservation and management of genetic resources
Forest resources assessment
Adjustment to the post-Uruguay Round international trade regime
The Special Programme for Food Security;
Early warning and emergency response programmess, including the Emergency Prevention
System for Transboundary Animal and Plant Pests and Diseases (EMPRES), and
Women and Population Programmes.
Dr. Diouf said that efficiency savings would be continuing within the Organization,
but he warned: “There is a limit to the extent and speed of progress that can be
made following the major reduction exercise still under way in the current biennium.”
The Conference will be preceded and followed by sessions of the FAO Council, the
Organization’s interim governing body.