Representation of the region in the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR)
Follow-up on aid-in-kind
Report on desert locust control
Implementation of the programme of action of the world conference on agrarian reform and rural development
Date and place of the seventeenth FAO regional conference for Africa
Adoption of the report
Closure of the conference
85. The Assistant Director-General and FAO Regional Representative for Africa introduced this agenda item, reviewing the role and structure of the CGIAR and the rules of regional representation in the Group. He then invited the Conference to elect a new country to represent Africa south of the Sahel for a four-year term to replace Zambia. The Head of the Zambian Delegation presented a report and briefly reviewed the execution of his term of office.
86. The Conference then elected the Kingdom of Morocco (Mr H. Faraj, Director of the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique) to represent the Region in the CGIAR for the next four years (1991-1994).
87. The introduction to the Information Note on the Aid-in-Kind Study by the Senior Policy and Planning Coordinator of the Agriculture Department placed the Study in the context of the Director-General's proposals for a Programme of Action for African Agriculture, endorsed by the Fourteenth Regional Conference for Africa in Yamoussoukro in 1986 in response to the FAO study "African Agriculture: the next 25 years". The Aid-in-Kind Study's findings underlined the widening gap between input supply and demand at the national level and the need for an appropriate mix of three approaches to close the gap. These were: boosting national production of inputs, supporting intraregional trade, and increasing imports from outside the Region; and the need to avoid past mistakes regarding the provision of aid-in-kind. The Study's recommendations concerned action at the policy and operational level to expand and improve aid-in-kind, and in particular, the development of an agreed policy framework for such aid; the adoption of pluri-annual commitments, and the provision of input aid only when the needs have been well-defined by the recipients. Finally, a number of follow-up activities were outlined, i.e., greater support to countries in the development of their input policies, in the local production of inputs, in the adoption of triangular transactions and in the use of aid-in-kind for inputs-for-work.
88. The Conference agreed with the analysis and recommendations of the Study which were increasingly relevant to African needs. It pointed out that pressures from international financial institutions in the context of structural adjustment programmes were forcing many African governments to remove subsidies from fertilizers and other production inputs, and to undertake other measures that raised the cost of inputs to farmers. The delegations considered that such pressures were particularly serious in countries where people were being forced to cultivate marginal lands without access to appropriate mineral or organic fertilizers, or again in landlocked countries where this factor had a considerable and negative bearing on the transport costs of inputs. The Conference emphasized that intensive forms of production could only be adopted and sustained if fertilizers and other modern inputs were available to complement traditional inputs such as livestock manure, since neither of them alone was sufficient in most circumstances to achieve food security.
89. The Conference asked FAO to strengthen its efforts to gain wider donor acceptance for expanded aid-in-kind, under the conditions recommended by the Study, and to expand its relevant training programmes. It urged FAO to explore ways of increasing aid-in-kind and appealed to the donor community for greater support to this form of assistance. Finally, FAO was requested to keep the Conference informed of progress, and in due course to undertake a more detailed evaluation of donor and recipient responses.
90. The Plant Protection Service Officer who outlined the locust control situation in the Region pointed out that locust control was an important link in the chain of FAO's activities. From the time the last major plague appeared in 1950, barely more than five years after the Organization began, FAO set itself the task of operating in close coordination with affected countries on control campaigns and to sensitize the international community, and oversaw the coordination and follow-up of its array of actions to tackle grasshopper invasions in the Sahel and desert locust infestations in a number of African countries.
91. FAO's role had been confirmed and reinforced by the numerous resolutions adopted by the international community in various bodies, particularly Resolution 41/185 adopted by the UN General Assembly during its July 1987 session. The ministerial-level meeting of the Economic Commission for Africa in April 1988 and the European Parliament both underscored the importance of this mandate and its execution.
92. Reviewing the various stages of locust outbreaks in Africa, which had exposed a number of countries in the Region to severe hardship, the speaker gave an overview of the factors which had contributed to the collapse of the invasions and the return to a period of relative calm in the Region, and reviewed the paramount role played by FAO/ECLO during the course of the latest campaign.
93. The Conference noted with concern that the present period of calm was only relative and that there could be a resurgence of the scourge at any time in the invasion area despite the impressive efforts deployed by FAO, the countries concerned and international assistance. The countries at risk and the international community should in no way demobilize the human and material resources harnessed to cope with such an eventuality: hence the need for constant vigilance in the high-risk areas.
94. The Conference stressed that a medium- and long-term strategy capable of checking any upsurge of locusts in the Region had to be based on preventive control of the desert locust in its permanent habitats.
95. Acknowledging that technical and scientific mastery of the locust scourge was not imminent, despite major advances in the understanding of locust behaviour in nature, the Conference recommended that locust research be granted top priority in order to advance our knowledge and understanding in all aspects of locust control.
96. The Conference recognized that locust-infested countries were currently using pesticides to control locusts. Aware of the dangers to people, animals and the environment posed by these toxic products, the Conference recommended the pursuit of efforts underway in this domain to find acceptable alternatives.
97. The Conference stated that the substantial stocks of pesticides remaining from the proceeding campaign posed a serious problem in several countries. Their storage under precarious conditions entailed the risk of certain damage to people and to the environment. In this context, the Conference recommended the preparation and urgent establishment of one regional project, or a number of subregional projects, embracing all aspects of the problem with a view to finding a lasting solution.
98. The Conference expressed satisfaction with the various locust control operations and actions carried out by FAO in close cooperation with the international community and the countries concerned. It called upon FAO to pursue its collaboration with IFAD for the purpose of finalizing, together with the countries concerned, the long-term prevention and control project in West and North-western Africa and for the mobilization of the financial resources needed to implement the project.
99. The Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa, reminding the Conference that the bulk of the African population are rural dwellers, reiterated the priority attached by FAO to rural development, in accordance with the decision of the World Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (WCCARD), organized by FAO in 1979. A programme of action adopted at this Conference has since guided the Organization in its work of promoting rural development.
100. Three governmental consultations had taken place since the Conference: 1983 Arusha (United Republic of Tanzania), 1987 in Harare (Republic of Zimbabwe), and 1989 in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia). In accordance with WCCARD's recommendation, FAO had centred its efforts on (i) people's participation in rural development projects; (ii) the study of land tenure dynamics, rural poverty and measures to relieve it; and (iii) evaluation of the impact of macro-economic adjustment on food production and consumption. The Organization had also helped member countries draw up progress reports on rural development, summaries of which were presented to the Conference of FAO in 1983 and 1987. A similar progress report would be prepared for the 1991 Conference of FAO.
101. Furthermore, African Ministers of Social Affairs adopted, in 1979 and then again in early 1990, a Resolution on the transformation of rural structures and development in Africa. Subsequently, the Conference of Ministers of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), held in May 1990 in Tripoli, Libya, expressed the hope that FAO would consider that the Seventeenth FAO Regional Conference for Africa, to be held in 1992, constituted the most appropriate Pan-African body for a detailed review of progress in agrarian reform. The Director-General of FAO proposed that the 1992 FAO Regional Conference for Africa revolve around the theme of assessing progress in agrarian reform and rural development.
102. The Conference, whilst generally approving this proposal, stressed that in preparing the forthcoming Conference, it needed to be remembered that rural development was a multidisciplinary process not confined to the agricultural sector alone. The Conference then adopted the proposal that agrarian reform be a major theme of the Seventeenth Regional Conference.
103. The delegation of Ghana, issuing a second invitation to host the Seventeenth FAO Regional Conference for Africa, sincerely regretted not having been in a position to honour its first invitation, for the country had had a prior commitment to host the Conference of the Foreign Ministers of Non-aligned States. The delegation of Rwanda also expressed its desire to host the Seventeenth FAO Regional Conference for Africa. The Conference warmly thanked these delegations for their kind invitations. These invitations would be reviewed by the Director-General in consultation with the Member Nations concerned, in accordance with the usual procedure.
104. The Conference considered the report presented by the Rapporteur, made certain amendments, and adopted the report.
105. Speaking briefly on behalf of the Director-General of FAO, the Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa expressed apology on behalf of the Director-General who had been unable to attend the closure of the Conference as he had had to be in Rabat for an audience with His Majesty, King Hassan II.
106. The Regional Representative expressed satisfaction with the success of the Conference, which had been attended by 43 countries of the Region, including 28 ministerial-level delegations and 27 observers. The discussions had afforded a full exchange of views on a number of basic issues of concern to the Region, and had produced major decisions, primarily in the areas of land conservation and rehabilitation and combatting malnutrition.
107. He thanked the Conference for the firm support expressed by delegations to FAO in the current situation of financial crisis, and for its highly positive appraisal of FAO's programme in Africa, particularly its work on screwworm fly and desert locust control. Lastly, he paid warm tribute to His Majesty, King Hassan II for the excellent material and moral support given to the Conference by Morocco.
108. On behalf of His Majesty the King, the Minister of Marine Fisheries and of the Merchant Marine of the Kingdom of Morocco, His Excellency Bensalem Smili stated he was honoured and pleased to have been able to take part in the closing ceremony.
109. The Minister then stressed the importance of strengthening regional cooperation, which could facilitate a solution to the difficult problem of food that continued to afflict Africa.
110. The Minister commended the Conference for its thorough review of the food and agriculture situation in Africa and for the recommendations adopted, and stressed the need for diligent implementation of these recommendations.
111. The Minister paid tribute to the Director-General of FAO for his dynamic leadership and expressed appreciation for FAO's assistance to Morocco and Africa.
112. On behalf of all participants at the Conference, the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries of Guinea, His Excellency Abdourahmane Diallo, proceeded to read a vote of thanks to His Majesty, King Hassan II.
The Vote of Thanks is attached as Appendix E.