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Statements

Curriculum vitae of Dr Jacques Diouf

 


OAU SUMMIT
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 26 - 28 June 1995

Mr Chairman,
Your Excellencies,
Mr Secretary-General of the OAU,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great privilege for me to be able to address you today. I interpret the honour that has been extended to me as a reaffirmation of your confidence and support. In thanking you for this opportunity, I wish to reiterate the assurance I gave to the OAU Council of Ministers last year that my efforts to lead FAO will be worthy of your confidence.

May I also take this opportunity to thank the Secretary- General, Mr Salim Ahmed Salim, for the fruitful cooperation in favour of the African continent between the OAU and FAO. I should also like to thank the Government and people of Ethiopia for their warm and fraternal welcome.

Mr Chairman, Your Excellencies,

The honour that you have bestowed on me today also entails certain responsibilities. First, the obligation to faithfully report FAO's rather sombre analysis of the current state of food and agriculture in Africa; then, the need to echo the call of the OAU Council of Ministers, at its Seventeenth Extraordinary Session in Cairo last March, for every possible effort to be made to release Africa from this situation, and finally, the responsibility of briefing you on some of the measures that FAO has taken, or is about to take, to help the African continent in its struggle for agricultural and economic development.

When I addressed your Council last year in Tunis, I deplored the fact that Africa is the only region in the world where per capita food production has fallen during the course of the last 20 to 25 years. Africa, a net food exporter in the early 1960s, has experienced a gradual decline to the point where it has now become a net importer. The cereal deficit alone could amount to 50 million tons by the year 2010. Another sobering fact is that the total cost of food imports will increase significantly, not only because of the greater needs of a growing population, but also because of the expected rise in the price of food imports from the temperate zone, resulting in particular from the expected reduction in export subsidies for wheat and animal products. FAO has recently estimated that by the year 2000, the total cost of Africa's food imports will have increased by 4.5 billion dollars compared to 1987-89, which unfortunately will not be offset by higher export earnings.

More immediately, the 1995 food situation is once again precarious in southern Africa, a sub-region that has traditionally been an exporter of cereals, as a result of the drought that has persisted in most countries of the sub-region. Parts of Ethiopia and Uganda have also been affected by drought, and relief operations have had to be continued or resumed.

Rainfall has, on the whole, been adequate elsewhere in Africa and the food supply situation is satisfactory. Unhappily, however, there are also countries where civil unrest and its aftermath have severely compromised food production and supplies.

The Organization estimates that Africa will have to import 31.4 million tons of cereals in 1994/95, including some 12 million tons for countries south of the Sahara.

Mr Chairman, all of us here know that technical, economic and policy considerations and constraints underlie the current state of food and agriculture in Africa. Permit me, however, to highlight some of these as my contribution to your continuing reflections on the challenges of agricultural development that lie before Africa and her partners.

While most African countries are bravely pursuing painful efforts to revive economic growth, and with agriculture beginning to take its rightful place in development programmes and policies, water control remains a key factor in the successful and sustainable increase of food and agricultural production. Yet, this is a sector in which I am unable to report much recent progress. In Africa, only 7 percent of arable land is under irrigation, totalling some 11 million hectares, and 75 percent of this is concentrated in five countries. Africa in fact still only uses 4 percent of its 4 000 billion cubic metres of water resources. So I must once again repeat, as I have said before, that the solution to the food problem on this continent necessarily implies the acceleration and improvement of its irrigation programmes and schemes.

Africa also has a sizeable forest resource base covering 18 percent of its land, which needs to be safeguarded. National strategies are required for the rational management of this capital, as well as for the identification of alternative sources of energy to charcoal, thereby halting the annual deforestation of 4 million hectares, caused mainly by population pressure and extensive farming.

Livestock production is another important sector in many Africancountries, sometimes accounting for up to 25 percent of agricultural output, and is a means of improving nutritional status. However, there are still enormous constraints on livestock development, particularly with regard to animal feed and health and the processing and marketing of livestock products and by-products.

As for marine fishery resources, Africa's once considerable fishery potential has been largely depleted as a result of overfishing, for the most part by foreign fleets. Appropriate strategies and policies should enable the African countries to develop their own fishery capacity, individually and collectively, with the participation of private investors working in mutually advantageous partnership. Freshwater and coastal aquaculture should also receive greater attention for these already represent 15 percent of world supply, and are expected to account for 30 percent by 2010.

Mr Chairman, Your Excellencies,

I should like now, if I may, to turn to some of FAO's current and planned contributions to African agriculture and food security.

In 1994, the first year of my stewardship as Director-General of FAO, some 46 percent of the Organization's field projects concerned Africa. Most of these provided direct support to African men and women working as farmers, fishers, herders and foresters. In order to help them raise their productivity as well as to assist the governments supporting them, FAO also continued to work with the Ministries of Agriculture and Rural Development, their associated institutions, and the occupational associations.

At the inter-country level, FAO has continued to cooperate with the OAU in the development of a Common African Agricultural Programme as an instrument of consolidation of the African Economic Community. This cooperation was further evident in the Organization's contribution towards the strengthening of the sub-regional economic communities, notably in the development of appropriate agricultural cooperation and integration programmes as well as the preparation of sub-regional food security strategies. Other activities and programmes are also carried out in cooperation with the OAU's Specialized Agencies, particularly in the areas of animal health and crop protection.

I warmly welcome the convergence of OAU and FAO concerns and priorities as reflected in the Cairo Agenda for Action, which was adopted in March by the Council of Ministers. This bodes well for the continuation and strengthening of OAU/FAO cooperation.

Mr Chairman, it is now my pleasure to report that my proposed changes in FAO's programmes, structures and policies, which I was privileged to convey to the OAU Council of Ministers in Tunis last year, one week after their approval by the FAO Council, are now well underway. These changes include FAO's new Special Programme on Food Production in Support of Food Security in Low-Income Food-Deficit Countries, designed to help countries which lack the means to import their food requirements, to realize their production potential to the full and thus meet these needs. There are 44 African countries inthis category. The programme is now operational in a preliminary group of 15 countries, including 10 in Africa.

The second programme recently implemented by FAO is the Emergency Prevention System for Transboundary Animal and Plant Pests and Diseases. This programme will initially concentrate on the desert locust and rinderpest which are both particularly virulent in Africa.

I have also launched a number of partnership programmes with a view to increasing the effectiveness and impact of FAO's activities. The Technical Co-operation among Developing Countries Agreement, for instance, has so far been signed by 58 countries, 27 of them in Africa. I also plan to implement a scheme to promote the use of the services of young professionals from developing countries to serve in FAO field projects and thus acquire experience which would be useful when they return to their home countries.

Lastly, we have laid the foundations for reinforced cooperation with multilateral and bilateral funding agencies, as well as with the private sector and non-governmental organizations in order to mobilize additional resources for the agricultural sector - and food security -in Africa and elsewhere in the developing world.

I should also like to brief this august assembly on the progress made on the decentralization of the Organization.

As promised last year, a substantive multidisciplinary team of some 15 professional officers, together constituting a policy assistance group, is preparing to transfer from Headquarters to the Regional Office in Accra. Another ten technical officers in various disciplines are also scheduled to join the Regional Office soon. The Sub-Regional Office for Southern and Eastern Africa based in Harare will soon be fully operational. I wish to thank the governments of Ghana and Zimbabwe for making the necessary arrangements to receive these experts. Arrangements will also be made to set up the Sub-Regional Office for North Africa, which has been delayed because of lack of consensus on its location.

These increases and improvements in the Organization's presence in Africa and in other parts of the world have taken place despite budget restrictions, thanks to the FAO Council's decision to redeploy staff from both Headquarters and the joint divisions operating with the UN regional economic commissions. Other mechanisms have been introduced to continue cooperation programmes with these UN bodies. I am also happy to report that the FAO Representation in Addis Ababa will be reinforced so as to facilitate our cooperation with the OAU and with the Economic Commission for Africa.

Mr Chairman, as you know, I have submitted a proposal for a World Food Summit to draw world attention to the fact that 800 million human beings do not have adequate access to food and that 192 million children under the age of five suffer from protein-energy deficiency. Last year, your Council recommended that your Summit support this initiative, which it kindly agreed to do. I am pleased to announce that my proposal has been approved by the FAO Council and has met with widespread support throughout the world. Following consultation with the Italian Government, FAO's host country, the World Food Summit will take place in Rome on 16 and 17 November 1996. It will be preceded bya ministerial meeting from 13 to 15 November and a preparatory meeting on 11 and 12 November. Regional conferences will review specific food security aspects of the respective continents. The FAO Regional Conference for Africa will be held from 16 to 20 April 1996. I wish to thank the OAU once again for its support to this initiative.

In conclusion, Mr Chairman, allow me to respond directly to the appeal launched to Africa's development partners by the Cairo Agenda for Action. I can assure you that the organizations of the United Nations system and FAO, in particular, understand and appreciate Africa's development challenge and support the continent's efforts to this end. What FAO can do, is doing and intends to do to support the region in these efforts is clear evidence of the Organization's commitment to and solidarity with the African people and their leaders. However, we could and should do more with more resources and, of course, with your support.

I thank you for your unfailing confidence and count on your invaluable support as we continue our common struggle for agricultural development and food security in our continent.

Thank you for your kind attention.

 

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