7. The Council discussed the world food and agriculture situation in the light of the Director-General's report on The State of Food and Agriculture 1966 (CL 47/2) and a supplementary document on more recent developments (CL 47/2 Sup.1).
8. It endorsed the overall analysis of the situation as set out in these document, and noted with concern that for food production the 1965/66 agricultural year was the worst that had been experienced for some time. Droughts had coincided in an unusually large number of the major agricultural areas of the world including Argentina, Australia, India, the U.S.S.R., much of Africa and also many parts of Europe. In previous years, although world food production was not increasing fast enough to permit much nutritional improvement, it had at least roughly kept pace with the growth of population. For 1965/66, however, the preliminary estimates showed that food production had not risen at all, while there were nearly 70 million more people to feed than the year before.
9. But for good harvests in North America, world production would almost certainly have declined in 1965/66, and in each of the developing regions except the Near East, production actually did decline. In Africa, the Far East and Latin America, which between them contained some 60 percent of the world's population outside mainland China, it was estimated that food production had fallen in 1965/66 by about 2 percent in total and between 4 and 5 percent per head of the population.
10. In the developing regions as a whole, food production per head had probably fallen back to the same level as in 1957/58. This meant a return to the inadequate pre-war level. With the population of these regions now increasing by an average of 2.5 percent a year, an increase of almost 7 percent in their total food production would be needed in 1966/67 to regain even the meager per caput level achieved in 1964/65.
11. Massive shipments from the grain stocks in North America had done a great deal to prevent mass starvation in 1965/66 in India and in other drought areas. However, these emergency shipments, together with the recent large grain imports of the U.S.S.R. and mainland China, and United States efforts to keep stocks within bounds, had reduced grain stocks to their lowest level in well over a decade. Surplus grain stocks, at least in the case of wheat, had ceased to exist. In the United States, which still produced almost a fifth of the world's total agricultural production, the Government had reacted to the changed situation by taking off, for the first time for many years, some of the curbs on the expansion of its grain production. This, however, would not have much effect until the 1967/68 season, for which the wheat acreage allotment had been increased by 32 percent.
12. The outcome of the current 1966/67 harvest was therefore awaited with some anxiety. The world food situation was now more at the mercy of current production, and thus of weather conditions, than at any time since the period of acute and widespread shortages immediately after the Second World War.
13. It was still too early to have any very clear picture of the overall level of food production in 1966/67. The situation was changing with some rapidity. In recent weeks the prospects for world grain production had improved somewhat. Revised estimates indicated a fall of only about 2 percent in the United States wheat crop, and it was now known that the Canadian crop was a record. A record grain crop had been announced in the U.S.S.R., which had been a major importer in recent years. It seemed possible therefore that world wheat stocks might rise slightly by the end of the 1966/67 season. However, this certainly did not mean a return to surplus conditions, and the Council emphasized that it gave no grounds for complacency.
14. Information was still scarce concerning agricultural production in the southern hemisphere, where the 1966/67 production season extended into the next calendar year, but it was now certain that there would be a better harvest in Australia. The Council was informed that in India the picture was still mixed, but recent droughts in Bihar made it likely that large food imports would again be needed. The Council was concerned, however, at the general lack of information on food production in 1966/67 in the developing countries. It reiterated that it was in these countries that increases were most needed. It was also in the developing countries that the setback had been greatest in 1965/66. However, although the early information tended to consist very largely of droughts and other disasters so that the preliminary estimates generally had to be revised upwards later when reports on average or good harvests had started to come in, it already seemed certain that the recovery in production in the developing regions in 1966/67 would be far less than would be necessary for their per caput food production to regain the level reached before the setback of 1965/66.
15. The setback to food production in the developing countries, even though primarily the result of adverse weather, served to re-emphasize the urgent need for more rapid agricultural development in these countries. The Council expressed the hope that this setback, and the wide publicity it had obtained, might lead the Governments of both aid-giving and developing countries to give greater priority to agricultural development.
16. The Council emphasized the usefulness of analysing the reasons why some countries had succeeded better than others in increasing their agricultural production in relation to their population growth. It noted that, of the 55 countries for which FAO production indices were available, the annual average increase in agricultural production in the last ten years had equalled or exceeded population growth in each of the 11 countries where this growth was fastest (3 percent or more per year). The causes of this situation should be carefully analysed, since it appeared paradoxical and in conflict with what was generally believed. Further studies of the experience of individual countries, on the lines of those already made of Japan and Mexico, could be of great value. It was also noted that much information on the reasons for successes and failures in individual countries had been assembled in studies recently carried out by FAO and the United States Department of Agriculture. 1
17. It was noted that successful agricultural development involved many different elements and that there was no universally valid prescription. Activity in such fields as land reform, agricultural research, education and extension, and the improvement of credit and marketing facilities, had been found generally to have been greater, however, in those countries where there had been a rapid growth of agricultural production. Other crucial areas referred to by delegates included a sound internal price structure in order to promote the transition from subsistence to commercial agriculture, the supply of fertilisers and other production requisites, sound water management, food technology, and the reduction of storage losses and other wastage. In some countries, particularly Philippines, India, Pakistan and Kenya, the recent introduction of high-yielding varieties of seeds - both hybrid and exotic - had demonstrated the possibility of a quick rise in the output of foodgrains on existing cultivated land. The Council noted that for the success of these production programmes not only an extensive adoption of improved farm practices was necessary but also the application of substantially larger quantities of fertilizers and other inputs for the availability of which most developing countries urgently needed resources (See paras. 63 to 70 below).
18. It was pointed out that as the developing countries increased their productive capacity, a new problem of surpluses might arise and had already appeared in some areas. The storage of such surpluses was a very costly undertaking. The Director-General was requested to pay particular attention to this problem. It was noted that the possible use of such surpluses as food aid would be included in the study on multilateral food aid to be carried out jointly by FAO and the United Nations (see Agenda Item 5(c), paras. 51 to 55 below).
19. Although the trends in food supplies had tended to overshadow other aspects of the situation, the Council also took note of recent developments concerning international trade in agricultural products. Agricultural export earnings, on which most developing countries depended heavily for their foreign exchange resources, had declined slightly in 1965, mainly because of a renewed fall in average prices. During 1966 so far it seemed that earning from agricultural exports had increased. The volume of agricultural imports of the major trading countries was substantially higher in the first half of 1966 than in the same period in 1965, and average prices in world trade had also risen. Nevertheless, the situation still gave rise to considerable concern, and the need was emphasized for FAO to play a full part in the discussions of trade problems in the relevant organs of UNCTAD.
20. While commending the analysis of the world food and agriculture situation contained in The State of Food and Agriculture, and also the special chapters in the current issue concerning agriculture and industrialization and rice in the world food economy, some delegates felt that certain changes might be made in the format of the document in future years. It was suggested that the report might henceforth concentrate on reviewing the recent food and agriculture situation and that the special chapters should be published as separate documents. It was generally felt, however, that it was advisable to retain the present format, which appealed to a wide public and also permitted some flexibility in blending factual description and analysis.
21. Some delegates expressed the view that the report should go further in analyzing the problems of agricultural development and proposing solutions to them. While it had succeeded over the years in presenting the facts of the world food problem, the time had come to make positive proposals for action. With its accumulated experience, the Organization was now in a better position to make such proposals. At the same time, a number of delegates stressed the need for caution and the dangers of tendentious analysis and hasty conclusions. Although it was probably FAO's best known and most widely read publication, The State of Food and Agriculture was only one of a considerable number of documents published by the Organization and discussion in detail of many technical topics was more appropriate to other more specialized publications. In connection with the Council's desire for positive proposals for action, the Deputy Director-General referred to the work being carried out on the Indicative World Plan, and the Council expressed the hope that such proposals would emerge from this.
22. The Council endorsed the Director-General's proposal to include in the 1967 issue of The State of Food and Agriculture special chapters on the management of fishery resources and on economic incentives for farmers in developing countries. Suggestions for special chapters in future issues included storage losses and other wastage, the problems and costs of land and water resources development, the administration of rural credit, agricultural research, and the impact of technical assistance in developing countries. It was also suggested that future issues of the report should contain a section on the international financing of agricultural development, on the lines of that in the 1965 issue, and that, where possible, north-western and southern Europe should be treated separately.
1 Results of the USDA study are published in Changes in Agriculture in Twenty-six Developing Nations, 1948 to 1963, Foreign Agricultural Economic Report No. 27, Washington D.C., 1965. The FAO studies, which have not been published separately, were carried out in conjunction with this project and are in broad agreement with its findings.
23. The Council decided to consider these items together (Items 4 and 5 (b) of the Agenda). In introducing both items the Director-General stressed that the progress report which he had placed before the Council could only, at this stage of the work, give some preliminary results. Nevertheless a first version of the commodity projections was now ready and the first two sub-regional studies, of the Near East and of East Africa, were nearing completion. Some of the finding of this work had been used to describe the approach employed and the type of results to be expected.
24. The commodity projections used alternative assumptions for the key factors affecting food needs - population growth, income levels and agricultural production. On the more optimistic assumptions, hunger would still remain in 1975, but by 1985 the calorie shortage would be largely overcome; this would require an increase in food supplies of about 4 percent a year. Nevertheless, the problem of protein malnutrition would not be solved and this showed the need for special programs to increase the production of protein-rich vegetable foods as well as of animal products. On the less optimistic assumption, lower income levels would hold back food consumption and there would be only a slight improvement in average calorie intake per head. The number of hungry people in 1985 would be much the same as it is now and, with adverse seasonal conditions, occasional breakdowns would still be expected. Even this meagre progress would require a faster growth in the food supplies of developing countries than has been achieved recently.
25. Large increases in the gross imports of food commodities into developing countries can be expected to continue. Gross imports of cereals into developing countries rose from 15 million tons in 1951 to 23 million tons in 1962. They reached the record of 32 million tons in 1966, and the projections indicate an increase in gross import requirements to at least 50 million tons by 1975, under the pessimistic assumption. Their potential deficit in livestock products is also projected to increase rapidly, though lack of foreign exchange and limited production possibilities are likely to restrain imports.
26. At the same time the prospects for the traditional exports of commodities of developing countries continue to be poor. It is estimated that the net agricultural import needs of rich countries would not increase by more than 2 or 2.5 percent per year in value terms, and even this would require a rapid rate of economic expansion and some major changes of policies on their part. There is then an urgent need to find new markets and new commodities for export.
27. A vast potential exists among developing countries themselves for food and other agricultural products. This could provide a new dynamic export sector, and thus the stimulus for faster growth in many developing countries. But it would require major changes in the present structure of commercial trade; perhaps a new clearing system based on some kind of multilateral barter or on a unit of exchange negotiable only between the developing countries. The two sub-regional studies nearly completed, East Africa and the Near East, show an interesting example of possible trade flows between developing regions. Cheap ammonia from the Near East, used to make the fertilizer essential for increased yields in East Africa, could be exchanged for maize and meat - two major import commodities required by the Near East.
28. Accelerated growth in food production remains the crucial problem of developing countries Much faster growth is needed in the future than has been achieved in the past, and it must be obtained more by intensification of production than by extension of area. The two subregional studies show how drastic the changes will need to be. In spite of a doubling of cereal production in twenty years and major increases in livestock output, net food imports would still increase by over 4 percent a year; even to achieve this modest result dramatic increases in inputs, in capital investment and in structural and institutional facilities would be necessary. The East African sub-region should further increase its exports of food, and the Plan emphasizes the need to increase productivity among the small-scale African farmers and to integrate them into the market economy. The Plan recommends the provision of a fully integrated package of inputs and services which would be concentrated in particularly favorable areas. The establishment of processing industries for agricultural commodities will often have a vital place in the package. This is particularly important in the case of East Africa where the continued development of agro-allied industries would give a major stimulus to the expansion of agricultural output.
29. The Director-General concluded that, even at this stage of the work, it could be seen that the long-term solution of food supplies lay in increased production in the developing countries. The need for concessional food supplies should increase for a number of years but could not replace the need for a transformation of traditional agriculture in low-income countries. What is required is a massive increase in production requisites and in investment in agro-allied industries and infrastructure. In his view, this is the most important field on which developed countries should concentrate their aid for some time to come.
30. The Council welcomed the progress report on the Indicative World Plan and, in a wide-ranging discussion, gave continued strong support to the concept of the Plan and to the preliminary findings as presented in the document and in the Director-General's introductory statement. While it was appreciated that the basic aim of the Plan is to find a solution to the problems of food shortage and hunger, several delegates stressed that it must not stop there; the production of food commodities could not be considered separately from other sub-sectors of agriculture including fisheries and forestry; for agronomic reasons and because, even if domestic food needs were satisfied, the development of agricultural processing and exports were essential to a diversification of agricultural production. Furthermore, agricultural development could not be considered without reference to the development of the other economic sectors.
31. The Council noted that, in the sub-regional studies, the detailed analysis of the agricultural sector was made within a frame of a growth model for the economy as a whole. Such a model was not intended to be an overall plan for the economy but only to provide reasonable and consistent assumptions for the key variables affecting agriculture. Thus it was necessary to have some idea of the growth of the industrial and service sectors; for East Africa the assumptions made on these points were based on studies already done by the Economic Commission for Africa. It was also necessary to have an order-of-magnitude estimate of the overall resources and trade gap since this would affect both the desirability of import substitution policies for food and the funds available for agricultural investment. In this regard the situation is clearly very different between Zambia and Ethiopia in East Africa, and between the oil-exporting and non-oil-exporting countries of the Near East. To obtain the necessary knowledge and information, close collaboration was being developed with other international agencies. The Council also noted that the choice of experts for the Plan Advis ory Panel made it clear that the link between agriculture and the rest of the economy was not being overlooked.
32. The inter-relationship of the sub-regional studies and the commodity projections was discussed by many members of the Council. The two types of study are intended to be complementary, even though each may have an intrinsic value of its own; they both use similar assumptions for the overall rate of economic growth and for population increase. The worldwide commodity projections provide a frame for initial work on the sub-regional studies; they give estimates of the likely domestic demand for food in a particular country and an idea of world market prospects for the main agricultural commodities. This allows production levels to be studied in greater detail in the sub-regional reports and for emphasis to be placed on the ways and means of achieving the increased production against a background of balanced economic growth. The preparation of the sub-regional studies, a vital part of which is an effort to reconcile and to make consistent all available data, will in turn produce information leading to a revision of the Commodity Projections. The initial assumptions on the rates of economic growth may need to be changed, as well as the magnitude of exportable surpluses or import needs. In turn, the revised commodity projections will provide the world frame for identifying and, if possible, resolving conflicts between the import and export targets shown in the various sub-regional studies.
33. Several delegates questioned the extent to which the sub-regional studies will enter into the formulation of national policies and programs. The Council noted that, while most data were shown country by country in the statistical annexes, the conclusions were presented by groups of countries with examples from individual countries being used for illustration. This reflects the fact that the sub-regional studies are not intended to substitute national plans in a regional and world context. This regional frame, indicating only the general direction of the policies and programs required, amounts only to the first phase of the Plan. The second phase, in which the countries will need to work in the closest collaboration with FAO, will be the definition of national policies within the regional frame and the formulation of specific programs and projects.
34. The Council stressed the importance of member countries being associated with all stages of the preparation of the sub-regional studies. This would ensure that all available data were being used to best advantage, and the active participation of the countries in all stages of the planning process would increase their understanding of the Indicative World Plan, and would later favor the implementation of the Plan's findings. The Secretariat reported that close contact was being maintained with the Member Governments concerned and that several governments had seconded experts for short periods to work on the Plan. Some countries were carrying out special studies to aid the Secretariat in the work in respect of their own country.
35. Some delegates felt that there would be mutual benefit if members of the sub-regional planning teams could visit the countries concerned at an early stage of the work. It was noted that the main limitation to travel has been, and remains, a financial one. Another method being used to take advantage of local knowledge and of national contacts was the secondment of FAO field and regional staff to Headquarters for a short period to work on a particular aspect of the Plan. Nevertheless it was realized that, working mainly in Rome and with severe limitations on both staff and time, the early versions of sub-regional plans would need revision by national experts, revisions both of the basic data and of the targets proposed. For this reason it was hoped to present each sub-regional study, as soon as possible after its completion, to a meeting of all the countries in that sub-region. The Near East report would be presented to the Joint Session of the Near East Commissions on Agricultural Planning and on Agricultural Statistics, meeting at the end of November, and it was hoped to hold sub-regional meetings to discuss the provisional studies on East Africa and the West Coast countries of South America early in 1967.
36. The Council expressed satisfaction that progress reports on the Indicative World Plan had been given both to itself and to the CCP and recommended that this practice be continued. It welcomed the fact that the Commodity Projections report would be sent to all Member Governments during November, so that there would be ample time for the study of this important report before the meeting of the CCP early next year. At that meeting the CCP proposed to undertake a detailed examination of both the methodological and policy aspects of the projections exercise and the Council looked forward to hearing the results of these discussions. The Council recognized the value of the detailed analysis of long-term factors affecting individual commodity markets which would be a main feature of the projections. Several delegates express ed the hope that the commodity projections would be made available in published form as soon as possible after the meeting of the CCP in early 1967. Some delegates also hoped that the policy changes which could improve the prospects for agricultural exports from developing countries would be discussed by the CCP in the light of the projections.
37. The Council heard some reservations about the effect that the priority given to the IWP would have on the regular work program of the Organization. It was pointed out that the dislocation was less than it might appear, because most of the money “taken” from the operating divisions had, in fact, been returned to them for work on the Plan. With the development of inter-divisional work, the divisions were given an opportunity to define long-term policies for their contribution to overall agricultural development. The frame provided by the IWP allowed these policies to be closely integrated and to reinforce each other.
38. Many speakers expressed their misgivings that the quality of the Plan might be sacrificed to the necessity of meeting deadlines. While it was felt that the importance of the work lent it urgency and entitled it to a considerable degree of priority, its novelty and complexity resulted in special problems which were accentuated by financial difficulties. It was stressed that the preparation of the Plan was a continuing program, and one which could only proceed by successive stages of approximation. Several delegates pointed out that if perfection was awaited no plan would ever be ready. The Council recognized that the concept of the IWP was not the provision of one final report but the preparation of a planning frame which, at world, regional and sub-regional levels, would be in a continuous state of revision, review and improvement. It was also recognized that the interim findings that become available from time to time would provide valuable guidelines for both short-term and long-term programs to national governments attempting quickly to increase agricultural production. It was necessary to circulate parts of the overall plan, even if far from perfect, as soon as they were ready; it was only after their circulation that the process of review and improvement could start in the light of comments and constructive criticism from those working outside the Plan team. While it now seemed unlikely that all eleven developing sub-regions would be covered in depth by 1968, it was still hoped that the first provisional report at the world level would be ready in that year. Sub-regional studies completed later and revisions of earlier sub-regional studies and of the commodity projections would be used in revised versions of the World Plan. While the work would be continuous, several delegates suggested that more formal reviews of the Plan at the world level might be undertaken at intervals of about five years.
1 See also paras. 50 and 131 to 133 below.
39. The Council considered the report of the Fortieth Session of the Committee on Commodity Problems (CCP) and agreed that the Committee, whose tasks were becoming increasingly complex, was successfully adapting its program to evolving needs.
40. The Council concurred with the Committee's findings on the general commodity situation. These findings pointed to the need for strengthened action to stimulate the present slow growth of agricultural production, particularly in developing countries, and to improve earnings from exports of agricultural commodities. The Council noted the five outstanding issues in the world agricultural commodity situation identified by the Committee. They were as follows:
41. The slow growth of agricultural production in developing countries, it was pointed out, was due to difficulties encountered in introducing more modern methods of cultivation and other measures for obtaining higher yields. Other serious constraints were the lack of credit and inadequate extension services suited to the particular conditions of developing countries. It was stressed that the type of co-operative programs that FAO had entered into with the Inter-American Development Bank, could usefully be extended to other regional development banks such as those in Asia and Africa.
42. In the course of the debate, some delegates pointed to the importance of liberalization of imports by developed countries as a means of expanding developing countries' earnings from exports of agricultural commodities. Other delegates stressed that these objectives could be most directly served through measures of market organization to ensure the maintenance of prices in international markets at remunerative levels. These same delegates pointed out that in the context of Recommendation A.II.1 of the Final Act of the UNCTAD, there had been general agreement that the relative emphasis to be placed on measures of liberalization or of market organization should be examined commodity by commodity. In this connection reference was also made to FAO Conference Resolution 2/65 on Organization of World Agricultural Commodity Markets. It was also pointed out that, while more liberal access to markets in developed countries was of major importance in the case of some commodities, measures of market organization would be more significant in the case of certain major commodities exported by developing countries.
43. The Council emphasized the contribution that regional economic integration arrangements could make to the expansion of trade in agricultural commodities and to the acceleration of economic growth in developing countries. Some delegates pointed to the benefits that developing countries could obtain through bilateral or even triangular contract arrangements by which one country would undertake to supply stated quantities of agricultural products in raw or processed form against long-term undertakings to purchase.
44. It was considered that FAO should play a more dynamic role in the study of the problems raised by the growing threat of competition from synthetic and other substitutes.
45. The Council noted the changing character of food aid resulting from the disappearance of the surplus element in world stocks, particularly of grains, and the changes in the United States legislation on sales on concessional terms. Some delegates expressed the hope that the new legislation would take adequate account of the commercial interests of developing countries and of countries heavily dependent on their commercial exports. There was general recognition of the importance of food aid as a means for promoting, among other things, expansion of agricultural production in recipient countries. The Council endorsed the CCP's request that a further approach be made to governments with a view to obtaining wider acceptance of the FAO Principles of Surplus Disposal and wider participation in the work of the Consultative Sub-Committee on Surplus Disposal.
46. There was general agreement in the Council that the FAO Commodity Review was of value not only for FAO's work but also for that of other bodies such as UNCTAD. The Council noted that the CCP had requested the inclusion of a number of new features which would add substantially to the usefulness of the Review. These should assist the Committee to appraise better the basic factors underlying commodity problems and to formulate recommendations regarding specific policy action. It was pointed out that, in addition to the topics indicated by the CCP, it would be desirable to compare the trends in production for domestic consumption with those in production for export in developing countries. It was considered that it was not necessary to treat all the suggested topics in each issue.
47. The Council noted with satisfaction that co-operation between FAO and other bodies interested in the commodity field and particularly UNCTAD, were developing satisfactorily and that the area of co-operation was expanding. The Council was informed that the UNCTAD Committee on Commodities at its forthcoming session to be held early in 1967 would undertake preparatory work for the coming Second UN Conference on Trade and Development. FAO should co-operate fully with the UNCTAD Secretariat to facilitate adequate preparations for this Conference. It was also generally agreed that co-ordination between FAO and UNCTAD should extend beyond secretariat co-operation. To this end, the Council agreed that the Chairman of the CCP and the Chairmen of the Study Groups operating under the auspices of the CCP should on occasion participate in the work of the UNCTAD Committee on Commodities, to present the views, decisions and conclusions reached by the CCP and the Study Groups in the course of their work as reflected in their reports. The Chairman of the CCP might also participate in the work of the Second UN Conference on Trade and Development. It was felt that participation of the Chairman of the UNCTAD Committee on Commodities in the meetings of the CCP would also contribute to closer co-ordination between the two bodies.
48. The Council took note of the establishment of a new Study Group on Hard Fibers (see para. 204 below). Some delegates suggested that the establishment of a study group on tea was desirable, while others believed that the problems could be solved without resorting to the formality of establishing a study group. The Council noted that a consultation on the problems of tea was scheduled to take place in the near future. Some delegates considered that in work on citru fruit, fuller attention should be given to problems of production and exports in a wider range of developing countries. Interest was expressed in the forthcoming study on skim milk powder supplies for developing countries and in the willingness expressed by several delegates in the CCP to assist the development of feasible milk schemes in developing countries. Some delegates indicated their desire to obtain further details on this matter, to enable them to take advantage of the assistance which might be offered.
49. Some delegates requested that more attention should be given in future to FAO's work on tobacco and cotton, taking into account the work of the International Cotton Advisory Committee, with a view to avoiding duplication. It was also suggested that FAO undertake studies of the economic aspects of agricultural inputs, such as fertilizers and pesticides.
50. The Council's discussion of FAO's work on commodity projections has been recorded elsewhere in this Report (see paras. 23 to 38 above).
51. The Council recalled that at its Forty-Fifth Session, it had requested the Director-General to examine the best way to embark on a comprehensive study of the issues raised by the UNCTAD Recommendation A.II.6 on World Food Aid Program and a proposal for the modification of the World Food Program presented by the Argentine Government at the Seventh Session of the IGC. This request had been endorsed by the Conference at its Thirteenth Session. Subsequently, the General Assembly of the United Nations at its Twentieth Session had adopted Resolution 2096(XX) calling upon the Secretary-General, in co-operation with the Director-General and in consultation with other specified international bodies, to undertake a program of studies on Multilateral Food Aid.
52. The Council noted that the Director-General's draft outline of the content of the study had been considered by the CCP at its Fortieth Session. In accordance with the wishes of the CCP, the report of the CCP's discussion on this subject had been made available by the Director-General to the Secretary-General of the UN and distributed to the 1966 summer session of the ECOSOC. After consultation with the Director-General, the Secretary-General had also distributed a supplementary note proposing that a substantive progress report be prepared for submission to the 1967 summer session of ECOSOC, prior to the completion of the comprehensive study by the middle of 1968. This proposal was in line with the views which had been expressed by the CCP.
53. In a draft resolution to be submitted to the General Assembly, the ECOSOC requested the Secretary-General and the Director-General, in consultation with other bodies concerned, as specified in Resolution 2096, to submit the final study as soon as possible, taking into account the suggestions as to content made by the CCP and the ECOSOC. The draft resolution also expressed satisfaction with the proposal to prepare a progress report.
54. The Council noted that the progress report would provide an analysis of the essential features of the food situation in developing countries, a tentative assessment of the likely food aid requirements according to various assumptions, the relation of food aid to total aid and a brief examination of the alternative means for international action. The progress report would be considered at a special meeting of the international agencies concerned, prior to its submission to ECOSOC. The Council noted that the Secretariat, in consultation with the UN, would also meet the wishes of the CCP for a progress report to be presented to its next session.
55. The Council agreed that both the progress report and the comprehensive study should be designed to give practical guidance to policy. The Council stressed the importance of careful analysis of the relationship of food aid to total aid and of its possible bearing on international trade, and welcomed the arrangements made for inter-agency co-operation.
1/ See also para. 18 above.
56. The Council considered document CL 47/4, paras. 85–92. The Council noted the arguments for and against the submission of such reports, and agreed that they could still be useful to FAO as well as to Member Nations if they contained analytical information on the food and agricultural situation in the countries, with an appraisal of both achievements and major problems faced by each country and the manner in which attempts were being made to solve such problems.
57. Regarding the content of these reports, the Council agreed that instead of being a mere catalogue of events they could consist of three parts:
a general section reviewing the main food and agricultural developments in the countries, which should be common to all such reports;
specific sections, like those of the special chapters of SOFA, providing analytical information on one or more important subjects suggested by FAO which might be included in the next issues of SOFA or could form the subject of discussions at the next session of the Conference;
a part containing information to be provided at the discretion of the Governments on particular problems faced by them. These might include, for example, the plan, policies and programs, priorities in planning, any change in the food/ population relation, and the measures taken concerning this trend and the results or failures of these efforts, etc.
58. As for the timing, the Council agreed that the present three-year basis was too long to be of any practical use, while an annual report might be difficult for many countries. The Council therefore endorsed the Program Committee's recommendation that the best solution would be a two-year period, covering the last year of the previous FAO biennium and the first year of the current biennium.
59. The Council also endorsed the Program Committee's suggestions that each country should submit at least a first provisional report, if necessary in mimeographed or typewritten form, to FAO by 31st March of each Conference year, so as to give the Secretariat time to consider it and use any information which it might contain as a basis for writing or supplementing any of the documents which might be presented to the Conference. The Council also agreed that copies of final versions should necessarily have to be distributed among Member Nations by the Governments themselves. Additional copies might also be made available during the Conference for reference use as required by delegations.
60. The Council further agreed that, considering the difficulties which had been encountered regarding these reports in the past, the above procedure be followed as an experimental measure for the next two biennia after which the matter should again be considered by the Conference.
61. The Council endorsed the Program Committee's suggestion that when a Member Nation failed to report by a given date, the Director-General should send a reminder.
62. The Council decided that the reports to be submitted by March 1967, besides covering 1965 and 1966, should also include the year 1964 for which no reports had been received, in order to maintain continuity (the last set of reports was in respect of the three-year period 1961–1963). The subsequent reports to be submitted by March 1969, would cover the years 1967 and 1968. The Council considered that the reports should, as far as possible, be short and concise.
63. The Director-General in introducing document CL 47/9 stated that suggestions for the establishment of a Food Production Resources Program had been made regularly since 1958, when it had first been proposed at an FAO Far East Regional Conference. It had now become a matter of extreme urgency owing to the critical food situation facing the developing countries. There was now no alternative but for these countries to increase their own food production as rapidly as possible, and this could only be done through the more intensive and effective use of production resources. These countries were, however, unable to increase their utilization of these requisites as they neither had the foreign exchange for their import nor could they manufacture them as yet on the required scale. The case for increased international assistance was therefore clearly established.
64. The Director-General added that to have the necessary impact on the rate of food production, the level of the Program should be set at $500 million annually, the major part of which would be on a bilateral basis. A multilateral program of $500 million which would not compete with but would complement and reinforce bilateral schemes should also be established as part of the Program. The primary criterion for granting assistance under the Program should be that these production resources were directed to countries where the needs were most urgent, and also where these requisites could be used immediately and without waste. FAO, owing to its technical competence and its work and experience in the developing countries could assist in guiding and supporting the Program. This would represent only a logical extension of the Organization's activities in this field, and the administrative arrangements could be kept simple and flexible. The Program would also contribute substantially to the development of FAO into an operational body concerned with assisting directly the developing countries to achieve a satisfactory rate of food production.
65. The Director-General indicated that his proposals raised two main sets of questions which need to be investigated. The first related to the problem of resources, such as where such resources were to be found and whether these would be additional to the present flow of aid. This matter also involved not only the policies of the major donor countries and FAO, but also other international agencies such as the IBRD/IDA, UNDP and OECD. The second main question relates to the role of FAO under the multilateral portion of the Program. While the multilateral part of the Program had to be dealt with chiefly by FAO owing to its Charter responsibilities to raise levels of agricultural production and nutritional levels, these involved a number of interrelationships which needed to be examined and this would have to be done in consultation with the various United Nations Agencies and Programs who are concerned.
66. There was general agreement in the Council with regard to the Director-General's analysis of the critical food situation and the importance of the problem of food production resources. The Council agreed that it would be valuable if the proportion of aid programs devoted to agricultural production resources were to rise. Most delegations supported the presentation of the Director-General in principle, and many delegations expressed support for several details of his proposals. Some delegations however, expressed some doubts about certain aspects of these proposals, e.g. the proliferation of multi-lateral funds, the right of recipient countries to decide for themselves the form in which aid was required, the impact that the Program might have on the industries of agricultural requisites already existing in developing countries, the possibility that such a program might be at the expenses of bilateral or other multi-lateral aid schemes; other delegations, however, were in favour of giving the multi-lateral component more prominence in the Program.
67. The Council accepted the idea of a study of all the problems involved in the effort to increase both the availability and the effective use of increased agricultural production resources by the developing countries, to be conducted jointly with other international organizations having a major concern.
68. The Council decided that an intergovernmental Ad Hoc Committee of FAO Member Nations should be set up, with approximately equal representation of both developed and developing countries, to consult with the Director-General on the conduct and content of a study that could examine the problem of increasing the availability of agricultural production resources to the developing countries in the light of the Director-General's proposals, the comments thereon made by Governments and in the Council, and any other relevant information. It was decided that the Committee should be composed of the following twenty countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Ethiopia, France, Federal Republic of Germany, India, Iran, Italy, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, Pakistan, Poland, Senegal, Sudan, United Kingdom, United States of America, Venezuela.
69. The Council also requested the Director-General to invite representatives of the IBRD/IDA, the United Nations particularly the UNDP, the WFP and any other United Nations Agency or program as appropriate and the OECD to participate in such a study.
70. The Ad Hoc Committee should make a progress report on the study to the Forty-Eighth Session of the Council. At the same time, the Director-General should call the attention of the Council to any additional financial implications involved. The Director-General was invited to arrange for the submission of a report on the study to the Forty-Ninth Session of the Council for transmission to the Fourteenth Session of the Conference.
1 Agenda Item 7. See also para. 17 above, and para. 203 below.