The Council heard a report by the Director-General (CL 9/27) on his recent visit to Latin America, Africa, and Afghanistan, and it is of the opinion that such visits have been helpful to the countries concerned in providing the kind of understanding at the policy level that can be reached only through personal contact, thereby increasing interest and participation in FAO's activities.
The Council recommends that the next edition of the State of Food and Agriculture should make full use of the information acquired during these visits, in assessing the potentialities of the various regions which the Director-General has visited and the prospects for their development over a period of years, and including any suggestions or recommendations for action, particularly in connection with needs for technical assistance.
The Council considered the World Food Appraisal - April 1950, published in the May issue of the Monthly Bulletin, Food and Agricultural Statistics.
Conditions have not altered sufficiently in the five months that have elapsed since the Fifth Session of the Conference to justify a detailed survey of the situation, nor to add to the general statement on the course of action to be followed, as set out in the Report of the Fifth Session of the Conference, pages 8–9).
Nevertheless, the Council wishes to draw attention to the following highlights of the present situation:
The information now available in respect of 1949 shows that the progress achieved in 1948 in developing food production has not been maintained. So far as it is possible to assess the situation for the whole world, the per caput production is about 3 percent below the prewar figure.
In analyzing the figures, it will be found that, except for a serious decline in China, the principal decrease in food production took place in North America. In most of the deficit areas of Europe the 1949 crops compared favorably with those of 1948, and the Australian wheat harvest reached a record figure. Stocks carried over into the 1949/50 marketing year were sufficient to provide a total supply for the world somewhat larger than in the previous year.
Early reports regarding present crops show that the outlook is good for Western Europe, whereas in North America the prospects for winter grains are unfavorable. In Asia and the Far East, political and economic conditions continue to retard improvement, and in parts of China serious famine conditions appear to exist.
Consumption levels show little change from the previous year. In the Far East the availability of food per head of population has not been modified and, therefore, remains below prewar. In Western Europe the increase in livestock production has brought about an improvement in the quality of the diet which, so far as energy requirements are concerned, is approximately restored to prewar levels.
The Council is of the opinion that the methods adopted by FAO for determining index numbers of total food production in relation to prewar should be reviewed. It understands that the Standing Advisory Committee on Economics, Statistics, Marketing, and Distribution has been asked to give consideration to this question.
The Council has had before it the first report (CL 9/7) of the Committee on Commodity Problems set up by the last Conference as an advisory body which would “address its attention primarily to the food and agricultural surplus commodity situation arising from balance-of-payment difficulties.”
The Council notes that the Committee has hardly had time since the last Conference to do more than initiate its activities. It also notes that no country has indicated so far that it has any serious problem of commodity surpluses or of food deficiency requiring special and urgent action. Since, however, the situation needs to be kept under constant review, the Council recommends that the work of the Committee be actively pursued. It looks upon the Committee as its instrument to carry out FAO's responsibilities to analyze and interpret the international commodity situation and advise on suitable action whenever appropriate.
In particular, the Council decides to refer to the Committee for consideration within its terms of reference the suggestions that were made by various delegates and by the representative of the International Federation of Agricultural Producers during the course of the discussions. These suggestions referred to the advisability of
seeking export possibilities at concessional prices, over and above normal exports, keeping in mind the danger of interfering with normal channels of trade;
determining possible specific areas where additional food supplies might be required at special prices;
investigating suitable financial and exchange arrangements for stimulating the interchange of commodities; 1
diverting surpluses of food for specific purposes;
seeking new methods to achieve price stability and dispose of surpluses through international machinery;
advocating additional commodity arrangements on a multilateral basis, including some comprehensive plan within which these agreements could be integrated.
The Council requests the Committee to approach these suggestions in the light of the broad humanitarian ideals of FAO, as stated in the Preamble to the Constitution. It understands that the Committee is empowered to call on the assistance of individual or governmental experts, whenever desirable, to study particular technical problems.
In conclusion, the Council wishes to express its appreciation of the work of the Committee and pays tribute to the able chairmanship of Mr. Abhyankar of India, who devoted so much time and energy to the activities of the Committee. It appoints Italy to the seat left vacant by the withdrawal of Poland.
1 The representatives of Canada and the Union of South Africa recorded their reservations on the advisability of referring this item to the Committee.
The Council notes with satisfaction the action taken by the Director-General in preparing for FAO's participation in the expanded program for technical assistance as reported in document CL 9/6. These preparations have been carried out in close co-operation with the United Nations and other specialized agencies through the machinery of the Technical Assistance Board. The plans which have been drawn up appear to reflect a high degree of co-ordination.
It is indeed imperative for the success of the program that the activities to be carried out by the individual agencies should be closely integrated. It would be futile to single out individual technical problems, disregarding their close relationship with one another. Furthermore, any action must be based upon a concerted approach to the general problem of economic development. Caution will also have to be exercised not to spread such action too widely, as this would result in a dispersal of energy and resources that would greatly diminish the efficiency of technical assistance. Therefore, it will be necessary to discriminate between the various possible projects on the basis of the criteria which have been agreed upon and to intensify to the utmost the co-ordinated action of the various agencies on a limited number of projects.
The Council believes that one valuable method will be to utilize pilot projects, when appropriate, whether for experiment or demonstration purposes. In due course, the results obtained would spread of themselves and much broader results would eventually be obtained. These pilot projects should include, wherever possible, appropriate action to develop local agricultural industries particularly in the field of food processing.
The Council notes that some of the work to be undertaken by FAO under the new program is an expansion of its regular activities. Therefore the distinction between the new program and the regular activities of the Organization should not be drawn and interpreted too rigidly at this stage.
Great responsibility for co-ordination will also rest with the governments participating in the program, whether they request or supply assistance. The Council hopes that in planning their participation these governments will consult with the Technical Assistance Board and with the specialized agencies. Such co-ordination will also be required in specific cases at the regional level. In this respect, the Council is gratified to note that FAO intends to establish the necessary means of consultation through its regional offices and by local visits of technical officers. Care will have to be taken that these visits at the planning stage are of sufficient duration to achieve their purpose.
Similarly, the activities to be undertaken in each country to implement these plans, once started, must be completed, even though they require several years.
The Council appeals to the participating governments to grant maximum support to the expanded program of technical assistance. If this support is obtained as fully as is desirable, the program will go a long way towards increasing production, raising standards of living and expanding world trade. The program is a long-term undertaking which, in the last analysis, will serve the fundamental objectives of the United Nations Charter, which are also those of FAO, namely, to contribute to peace and freedom in the world.
The Director-General has reported on the steps taken to revise and readjust the 1950 Program of Work, in the light of the relevant recommendations of the Conference at its Fifth Session (CL 9/3).
The Council agrees that there is need for more emphasis on the assistance which many countries require in defining and implementing their rural welfare policies. It considers that a primary function of FAO is assistance to member governments in the development of extension methods for making known to rural populations the best and most productive agricultural methods as well as ways of improving their living conditions.
The Council further agrees on the need for undertaking, at the earliest practicable date, the study recommended by the last Conference of agricultural prices and of measures taken by governments to maintain and achieve certain price relationships (Report of the Fifth Session of the Conference, page 10).
Although the Council has already given guidance to the Director-General in screening the many and diverse activities which FAO has been requested to undertake during the last few years, it is now apparent, in view of the present budgetary limitations, that the means at his disposal for carrying out the Conference recommendations will be even less than had been anticipated. The danger exists, therefore, that the necessary readjustments may curtail the scope of various individual projects to the extent that the resources available are spread too thinly over an unduly wide field. What is required is a selection of the most important activities on a priority basis, so that the necessary concentration of effort may be achieved. The methods of the Organization should also be reviewed, and in particular the Organization might possibly call on governments more than in the past to obtain assistance in investigation and research.
The Council, therefore, concludes that it would be appropriate to undertake a careful review of the fundamental policies and trends of the Organization in the light of its objectives and of the experience of the last five years, with a view to making FAO even more effective and obtaining the greatest possible benefit from the available resources. Accordingly, the Council decides to undertake that review as follows: The Director-General will prepare his recommendations regarding the broad future trends of FAO and obtain the views of member governments thereon. A summary analysis of this material will then be placed on the agenda of an early session of the Council with a view to reporting to the Conference.
In order to facilitate the preparation of the Article XI reports, the last Conference proposed that a simple and more flexible questionnaire should be devised. It requested the Director-General to submit a “proposed outline … to all members of the Council in time for consideration at the first session of the Council in 1950.”
When considering the Director-General's proposals (CL 9/4) the Council has noted that the general framework of the questionnaire was laid down by the Conference itself (Report of the Fifth Session of the Conference, pages 15–17). Therefore, the task of the Council has been
to select in connection with Part C of the questionnaire, a list of those recommendations of the Conference on which governments will be asked to communicate the action they have taken;
to select, in connection with Part D of the questionnaire, a limited number of topics on which governments will be required to give rather detailed reports.
Regarding the first item, the Council has selected the recommendations of the Fifth Session of the Conference relating to:
Extension and advisory services,
National programs for land and water conservation and utilization,
Nutrition in member countries,
The Council also endorses the suggestion of the Director-General regarding the form and content of the report as indicated in document CL 9/4.
With regard to the special topics on which governments should give as complete reports as possible, the Council considers that governments should not be asked for these during 1950. In view of the decision to hold the next session of the Conference in November of this year, adequate preparation of those reports by member governments and their analysis by the secretariat would require more time than is available.
Therefore, as an exception, the Article XI report requested from governments in 1950 should consist only of three parts:
|Part A:||General position and significance of food and agriculture,|
|Part B:||Progress and developments in food and agriculture,|
|Part C:||Action taken by member governments on selected Conference recommendations.|
The Council requests the Director-General to forward to governments before 1 July 1950 the detailed questionnaire relating to the Article XI reports to be submitted in 1950, and to make 1 October the closing date by which these reports should reach the Organization.
The Council has also considered what reports should be requested from governments when the Conference is held every two years.
For the year 1951, when it is expected that a regular session of the Conference will be held, the Council is of the opinion that the reports should, in respect of Part D, deal with the following topics:
Steps to promote wider use of agricultural and forestry supplies and equipment
Practical nutrition programs.
The Council has approved the proposals made by the Director-General regarding the information to be supplied by governments on the above-mentioned items, but in addition requests that:
the reports by member governments should not be limited to a statement of facts only, but should also aim to set out the concrete problems with which the reporting country is faced, the factors which have given rise to the situation described, the reasons for the governmental measures taken, and the problems which remain unsolved;
in the report on agricultural and forestry equipment, particular attention should be paid to the technical aspects within the general economic setting of the problems discussed.
For the years following 1951, Part D of the annual report could be treated separately from the three others. The general studies which the Organization will prepare on special topics will be of a different nature from its reports on the development of the food and agriculture situation, and it is possible that the Conference will not always have to consider these urgently.
In addition, governments should be allowed a fair margin of time to draw up their reports so that they may be as complete as possible. The Council considers that, beginning in 1952, the reports on special topics should be appropriately staggered over the period of two years between the regular sessions of the Conferences, so that the governments will have more time to discharge their duties under Article XI of the Constitution.
The question has been raised as to whether a choice of the special topics could not be left partly to governments. All governments might be required to supply a report on one specific topic and to choose one or several other topics (selected from a limited list), according to their importance during the year under consideration.
A suggestion has also been made that there might from time to time be different topics for review in the various regions, or topics directed specially to members in different regions who appear to be in comparable categories of economic, social, or agricultural development. The Council refers these suggestions to the Conference for consideration in due course.
The Council has discussed the steps to be taken by the Organization to assist governments in preparing the reports required of them under Article XI, with particular reference to the study of national plans and programs for development, or in connection with decisions by the Conference. Because the reports have increasing importance if the Organization is to work efficiently, they should be as similar and comparable as possible in order to simplify and accelerate analysis by the staff of the Organization, thereby effecting corresponding economies in the staff at headquarters engaged in this kind of work. The Council is convinced that this result cannot be obtained merely by sending out questionnaires, however detailed they may be. It is essential to establish direct and repeated contacts between highly qualified officers of the Organization and the governments who have to prepare the reports. The Council requests the Director-General to study as soon as possible what organizational measures could be taken to obtain these contacts with the greatest economy. The direct participation of the Organization's officers in the preparation of the reports will certainly be more effective if these officers assist a limited number of countries and thus rapidly acquire an intimate knowledge of the problems which these countries have to face.
In conformity with the recommendation of the last Session of the Conference (Report of the Fifth Session of the Conference, page 28), the Director-General has submitted a report to the Council on the experience of the last few years in collecting statistical and economic information from member governments and suggested improvements in the procedures now followed in collecting such information. The Council notes that one of the main responsibilities of the Organization is to collect adequate technical and statistical information in order to improve and expand the publications supplied to member countries. Experience shows that communications and questionnaires addressed by the Director-General to governments do not result in the collection of all of the available information. In addition, information is frequently received late. The Council, therefore, endorses the proposals by the Director-General for discussing certain detailed questions with member governments as set out in document CL 9/5.
The Council suggests that a substantial improvement in statistics could be obtained if member governments re-examined their internal procedures for the handling of routine questionnaires, particularly with a view to eliminating unnecessarily circuitous correspondence between FAO and themselves. The question is also of the greatest interest in connection with dependent overseas or non-autonomous territories. Although special measures may be required for certain specific requests, it seems that in the case of regular requests for information a simplified procedure might be adopted, at least in certain countries. In many cases time would be saved if the questionnaires completed by governmental statistical services were returned directly by them to the Organization. The Council earnestly requests governments to pay special attention to these problems and to take, along the lines indicated above, all measures compatible with the organization of their services.
The Council was concerned about possible additional difficulties which might arise in collecting this essential information because of the coming transfer of headquarters. The Council is convinced that those difficulties could be reduced to a large extent if, as is contemplated for the Article XI reports, personal contacts were established, in consultation with the National Committees, between local officers of the Organization and government technicians. It appears to the Council that in the long run such a development is necessary and desirable since local FAO officers could assist government departments in the substantive preparation of the replies required, assist in putting them in suitable form for immediate use, and help the headquarters staff to interpret them. It is possible that the work of translation, revision, and rearrangement now carried out by the headquarters staff could be substantially reduced by adopting this procedure, and the work of the technical divisions would be expedited. Local FAO officers would also be able to inform the different divisions of the latest developments in the countries, and consequently of the improvements needed in the service rendered by the Organization in order to meet their needs. These officers could assist in distributing the publications and studies of the Organization.
The Council requests the Director-General to take into consideration the preceding suggestions and to give them the widest possible application in the light of (a) the special needs of each region, (b) the changes which might be necessary because of the transfer of headquarters, and (c) the financial situation of the Organization.
The Council has considered the report of its Committee on the Relations of FAO with Other International Organizations and approves the conclusions of this report (CL 9/16).
The Council notes that there is at present a great increase in the number of international organizations and congresses in the technical field, particularly in Europe, which undoubtedly results in much confusion and duplication of effort. While many of these organizations are of value in supplementing the work of FAO, there is need for a careful review of their purposes and activities. Accordingly, the Council adopts the following resolution:
Taking into consideration Resolution No. 310-IV of the General Assembly of the United Nations on “Proliferation and overlapping of the programs of the United Nations and Specialized Agencies” and the resolution of the Fifth Session of the FAO Conference on “Relations with Nongovernmental Organizations;”
Requests the Director-General
to prepare and supply to member governments up-to-date lists of (i) international, intergovernmental, and nongovernmental organizations, and (ii) projected meetings; these lists to be classified according to specialty and scope in the field of food and agriculture with a view to enabling governments to avoid duplication of international activity and to reduce expenditures connected therewith;
to submit information concerning such organizations to the Committee on Relations with International Organizations, with a view to obtaining the views of this committee concerning the gaps to be filled and the duplications to be avoided, the measures which might be taken by member governments to this end, and the type of relationship which would appear appropriate, on technical grounds, for such organizations to maintain with FAO;
Requests the Committee on Relations with International Organizations to arrange, when appropriate, for an examination of such relationships to be carried out on a regional basis, if necessary by convening regional working parties, so that suitable recommendations can be submitted eventually to the Conference on the general problems arising out of such relationships as well as on applications of nongovernmental organizations for consultative status with FAO (in accordance with the procedures approved by the Fifth Session of the Conference);
Requests Member Governments to assist in carrying out this investigation and, in particular, to refrain from
joining new intergovernmental bodies without first consulting with FAO as to any overlapping which might arise through the establishment of such bodies;
giving their moral or financial support to private international bodies without first consulting with FAO and with such organizations in consultative status with FAO as are concerned in the same activities;
sending delegates to or in any way supporting international meetings on matters which fall within the province of FAO, without first consulting with FAO.
The Council has considered the joint statement prepared by the heads of the specialized agencies at a meeting of the Administrative Committee on Coordination held in Paris on 1 May, concerning a program which would make provision for essential long-range activities for children (CL 9/26).
The Council adopts the following resolution:
Considers that, in the future development of international programs for children, the principle should be adopted of utilizing to the maximum the services of the appropriate permanent specialized agencies, and that any special administrative machinery required by the United Nations in this field should, in so far as effective work can be achieved in this way, be limited to what is necessary for fund raising, co-ordination and over-all program planning. 2
2 The Representatives of Australia and Yugoslavia reserve their positions for lack of instructions.
Having regard for the general policies of the Organization in relation to Standing Advisory Committees, the Council requests the Director-General to submit a report at an early Session on the principles and procedures according to which the composition of Standing Advisory Committees is determined, on the terms of office of the members of such committees, and on the best ways in which co-operation can be achieved between these Committees and the Secretariat of the Organization.
The Council appoints the following members of the Standing Advisory Committee on Economics, Marketing, Statistics, and Distribution:
Phra Noraraj Chamnong
Under Secretary, Ministry of Commerce
Jean Chombart de Lauwe
Professor of Agricultural Economics
National School of Agriculture
J. G. Crawford
Secretary, Department of Commerce and Agriculture
L. H. Dupriez
Professor of Economics and Marketing
University of Louvain
Director, National Agricultural Census
Ministry of Agriculture Havana, Cuba
J. K. Galbraith
Director, Agricultural and Marketing Research
Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.A.
Sir Hubert Henderson
Professor of Political Economy
Oxford University, England
Advisor to the Department of Agriculture
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
H. S. M. Ishaque
Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Health
O. A. Lemieux
Chief, Census Branch
Dominion Bureau of Statistics
Mrs. Rigmor Skade
Danish Statistical Department
P. V. Sukhatme
Indian Council of Agricultural Research
New Delhi, India
E. de Vries
Department of Overseas Territories
The Hague, Netherlands
Director of Economics and Statistics
Ministry of Agriculture
Oris V. Wells
Chief, Bureau of Agricultural Economics
Department of Agriculture
Washington, D.C., U.S.A.
The Council decides to add the following members to the Standing Advisory Committee on Rural Welfare appointed by the Sixth Session of the Council:
John H. Davis
National Council of Farmer Co-operatives
Washington, D.C., U.S.A.
J. S. Keyser
Director of the Co-operative Central Raiffeisen Bank,
Utrecht, and member of the Board of the National Co-operative Council of the Netherlands
A. B. MacDonald
The Co-operative Union of Canada