9. The Council discussed the world food and agricultural situation on the basis of the mid-year review published in the June 1974 issue of the Monthly Bulletin of Agricultural Economics and Statistics, and a shorter up-dating statement as of mid-October, particularly covering preliminary estimates of 1974 production, that was tabled at the session and would be published in the November issue of the Monthly Bulletin. The discussion also reflected the extensive documentation prepared for the World Food Conference, and the deliberations of the Conference and of its Preparatory Committee on this subject.
10. The Council noted that 1974 was the first year of the experimental system agreed by its Fifty-Ninth Session and by the Seventeenth Conference Session, under which a preliminary version of the full report, The State of Food and Agriculture, was no longer prepared for its consideration, but was replaced by periodic reports published in the Monthly Bulletin. It expressed its general satisfaction with the documents that had been prepared under the new arrangement, especially in view of the many uncertainties in the present world food and agricultural situation. It considered that these experimental arrangements be continued. It was suggested that there would be further improvements in these arrangements as the global information and early warning system on food and agriculture proposed by the World Food Conference was developed. The Council recommended that every effort should be made to avoid unnecessary duplication between The State of Food and Agriculture, the Commodity Review and the various periodic reports that would form part of this system, and that they should be made as complementary as possible. It also noted the recommendations of the Programme Committee for a re-examination of this whole matter after the experimental period was over and for improvements in contents, particularly as regards the regional sections 2.
11. The Council noted that it had for the first time been possible to include an estimate of the amount of the total annual flow of development assistance committed to the agricultural sector, and that this information would be expanded and analysed in more detail in future years, provided increased data could be made available by Member Governments. The Council appealed to Member Governments to help in the supply of such information. Some members felt that, in analysing the recent situation, the effects of the increase in oil prices had been exaggerated, while those of the instability of currency exchange rates had been insufficiently stressed. With regard to the effects of increases in oil prices, other members felt that the issue merited further study. Several members stressed the usefulness of having more information and analyses on a country rather than on a regional basis. Other subjects which different members wished to see covered more fully in the future included investment in the agricultural sector both from domestic and external sources, the impact of development assistance, the prices of inputs and transport as well as of agricultural products, the relationship between farm costs and farm prices, population relationships, nutrition, forestry (including the supply of paper, in view of its importance for educational and extension programmes), a clearer distinction between fish production for direct human consumption and for other purposes, national policy responses and reactions to major changes affecting the sector, as in the field of energy and monetary crisis.
1 CL 64/2, CL 64/2-Sup.1, CL 64/PV/2, CL 64/PV/3, CL 64/PV/18.
2 CL 64/7 paras 82–83.
12. The Council agreed that the full annual report, The State of Food and Agriculture, to be issued towards the end of each year, should concentrate on the analysis of food and agricultural policies and longer-term trends. It noted that further improvements in this and other periodic reports on the world food and agricultural situation and outlook would depend to a great extent on improvements in the information provided by Member Governments. This would require in many cases increased technical assistance on early crop estimation and forecasting in many developing countries. It was felt that speedy assessment of the effect of abnormal weather conditions on production was necessary, even while more reliable weather forecasting required further development.
13. The Council agreed that one of the best services that the documentation could provide concerned the analysis of the food and agricultural policies of Member Governments as they influenced the global situation, giving particular attention to their policy responses to the changing situation in such fields as food, population, and nutrition balances. The evolution and evaluation of such integrated policies could provide an important link between the Council's work and that of the World Food Council, the establishment of which had been recommended by the World Food Conference.
14. The Council was concerned that the world food and agricultural situation, especially in respect of cereal supplies, had worsened in recent months. This was mainly due to the fact that the weather had again been unfavourable in certain important producing areas. The year 1974 had failed to provide the bountiful harvests that were so urgently needed for the replenishment of stocks and the establishment of a reasonable degree of security. World cereal production had fallen in 1974 for the second time in three years, probably by as much as 40 to 50 million tons. The FAO report indicated that world cereal stocks (excluding China and the U.S.S.R.) were likely to fall below 100 million tons by mid-1975, or less than half the 1970 level. They would thus be equivalent to only 11 percent of the world consumption, as compared with FAO's estimate of 17 to 18 percent as the minimum level necessary to ensure a safe degree of world food security. Prices in export markets (except for rice) had started to rise again, although they had stabilized in recent weeks. Increases in retail food prices were continuing.
15. There had been substantial declines in food production in 1974 in the two regions which, for different reasons, were the most important for world food supplies: North America, the largest exporter of food, and the Far East, which had most of the world's population and malnourished people. FAO's preliminary estimates indicated that, if total world food and agricultural production reached the level of the previous year, this would mainly reflect the upsurge in livestock slaughterings, especially in western Europe, offsetting the decline in cereal production. It would thus not have brought much benefit to the food supplies of those developing countries whose food shortages were most critical.
16. The Council noted with concern that, side by side with the continued general shortage of food, especially staple cereals, the situation remained critical in respect of several of the main inputs essential for food production. The shortage and high prices of chemical fertilizers showed no sign of abating for some time yet. The supply of some important pesticides were running short, and there were indications that this might become a critical problem. A number of countries faced shortages of fuel and power for irrigation pumping and other essential purposes connected with agricultural production. This situation had very serious consequences for production in less developed countries and the most seriously affected countries. The expansion of irrigation facilities was mentioned as an important means of countering the adverse effects of weather on production.
17. It was agreed that urgent action was needed to meet the dual shortages of food and of the means of producing it. Some members expressed their disappointment that the World Food Conference had made little tangible progress with respect to these immediate problems, and hoped that steps would be initiated to fulfil the objectives defined for action in 1975–76 in the various resolutions. It was specially necessary to ensure an equitable distribution of the available food supplies until the following year's harvests began to come in, with particular attention given to the needs of the most seriously affected countries.
18. In this regard, the Council approved the Director-General's initiative in calling a consultation of the major cereal exporting and importing countries, and commended him for his speed in acting on this vital matter. A few members referred to the supplementary statement on the state of food and agriculture which indicated that the available supplies of cereals in the world for the 1974–75 season should be sufficient to meet all essential requirements for human consumption, although there were substantial distribution, including financial problems, which would mean that many of the hardest hit countries would be unable, unless assisted, to obtain the imports they needed. They stressed the need for a cautious approach, relying as far as possible on market forces, and avoiding any overdramatization of the situation that might encourage further price increases. However, they acknowledged a payments problem, and that assistance in this regard should come from the world community as a whole. A number of members emphasized that irrespective of actual statistics, hardship in many developing countries was a reality and it was necessary to continue all efforts to ensure that their moderate needs were met. A number of these countries had serious balance of payment difficulties. Therefore, the need for either increased grants or concessional loans/deferred payment arrangements was also emphasized.
19. Some members pointed out the decline in their countries' earnings from forestry product exports and wished such developments reflected in the review. Some others suggested that important developments like the shortage of paper deserved more prominent treatment with indication of action being taken by the Organization.
20. It was also necessary, in order to obtain the biggest possible harvests in 1975, to secure a balanced distribution of the scarce means of production. FAO's International Fertilizer Supply Scheme was of particular importance in this regard and required full support from Member Nations in a position to contribute to it. The Council stressed that it was not enough to secure physical supplies, but that substantial financial help was also needed for the many developing countries facing severe balance of payments difficulties. It noted that the United Nations Emergency Operation could be an important source of such assistance, and strongly supported FAO's work in servicing and cooperating with it.
21. As the Forty-Ninth Session of the Committee on Commodity Problems (CCP) was held prior to the World Food Conference, the Council's attention was drawn to the fact that some of the matters covered in the Report of the Committee would need to be considered also in the light of the outcome of that Conference.
22. The Council concurred with the Committee's assessment of the current world agricultural commodity situation and the short and the long-term prospects. It noted with concern the implications for world agriculture of the recent developments in the world economy, especially high rates of inflation, growing balance of payments disequilibria, prospect of low rates of economic growth and of continuing monetary instability. It also noted the gravity of the present world food situation, and the critical dependence of the world for its food supplies on the current season's crops in view of the depletion of stocks of basic foodstuffs over the past two years. As a result, the Council agreed that an unusual degree of uncertainty and instability in agricultural commodity markets was likely to continue for some time. In the context of developments in agricultural commodity trade, the Council noted that the share of the developing countries in world agricultural exports had continued to decline. With the sharp rise in the prices of agricultural inputs and costs of manufactures, countries and their producers were not able to fully benefit from the recent increases in commodity prices, a factor of considerable importance to developing countries.
23. The Council agreed with the Committee's conclusion that the growing interdependence of countries meant that these problems could only be solved through international cooperation and consultation, and with full regard to the interests of the developing countries, both in the field of agriculture and within the wider economic framework.
1 CL 64/8, CL 64/PV/8, CL 64/PV/18.
24. The Council took note of the general agreement in the Committee that the intensive intergovernmental consultations in pursuance of UNCTAD Resolution 83(III) had served a useful purpose including assisting governments in preparing their positions for the multilateral trade negotiations in GATT. The Council also noted the view of the developing countries that the consultations had failed to fully achieve the objectives for which they had been called. The Council agreed that the CCP and its subsidiary bodies should further examine the proposals and suggestions contained in the reports of the intensive consultations with a view to achieving concrete results in the field of market access and pricing policy. Some members stressed that in this regard the Declaration and the Programme of Action on the Establishment of a New International Economic Order adopted at the Sixth Special Session of the UN General Assembly should be kept in view. The Council noted that the Secretary-General of UNCTAD was preparing an integrated programme on commodities which would embrace a multi-commodity and multi-dimensional approach in which he would seek the cooperation of FAO.
25. Some members suggested that, with the disappearance of surplus stocks, it was necessary to examine the role of the Sub-Committee on Surplus Disposal (CSD). They felt that, while continuing to monitor all concessional sales in foodstuffs and to watch over the implementation of FAO Principles of Surplus Disposal, the CSD must play an additional role in the follow-up arrangements of the World Food Conference and that its functions be adapted to serve the proposed committees on World Food Security and Food Aid Policies and Programmes. In this connexion it was noted that the CCP 1 had considered it premature to make any decisions of functions, responsibilities, change of name and location of CSD, pending the follow-up arrangements of the World Food Conference. The Council hoped that it would make its suggestions in due course.
26. The Council noted the progress in developing guidelines and a timetable for the preparation of the draft Strategy on International Agricultural Adjustment by the Director-General for presentation to the Eighteenth Conference Session. It stressed the need for the Strategy to take into account relevant recommendations of the World Food Conference and the FAO Regional Conferences. There was a large measure of agreement that, should the CCP not hold a session next spring, consideration be given to the possibility of setting up an ad hoc working party to advise the Director-General on his draft proposals for the strategy. The Council approved the time schedule as given by the Secretariat which provided for an interim draft of the Strategy to be presented to the mid-1975 Council session.
27. The Council noted that the Forty-Ninth CCP Session had initiated a discussion on its own future role and work, and approved its decision to consider this question in depth at a later session. Some members were of the view that, after the conclusion of the World Food Conference, the CCP should develop a stronger catalytic role in areas where policy decisions and action were required. It should also play a greater role in examining the inter-relationships between commodity markets in a wider context than was possible within the more specialized individual Intergovernmental Commodity Groups, and thus give a new dimension both to its own work and that of its subsidiary bodies.
28. The Council considered the CCP's proposal to hold two sessions in 1975, one in spring and the other in autumn, and the suggested agenda 2 for the Spring Session. Some members felt that a Spring Session of the CCP should be held to consider the latest world food and commodity situation, matters arising from the World Food Conference and the Director-General's draft Strategy on International Agricultural Adjustment. Several others were of the view that a Spring Session was not necessary. They pointed out that action to deal with the current situation had already been initiated, that the CCP would be in a better position to assess the implications of the follow-up to the World Food Conference in October as by spring new bodies would be only in the early development stage. In order to associate governments with the task of evolving policy guidelines for international agricultural adjustment, these members pointed out that an intergovernmental working party could be convened in the spring of 1975 to review the Director-General's draft strategy and to report its views to the Council for consideration at the latter's mid-1975 Session. Another view was expressed that a session of the CCP would secure a larger attendance by governments, at a higher technical level, than an ad hoc working party to consider only the draft strategy for agricultural adjustment. The only practical timing for a session either of the CCP or of an ad hoc working party was early May. The Council concluded that the Director-General should begin preparation for convening in early May an ad hoc Consultation open to all Member Nations to consider the proposed Strategy for International Agricultural Adjustment. It further decided that, at its March 1975 Session, it would consider whether a stage had then been reached in the follow-up of the World Food Conference at which the CCP could usefully examine its future functions and those of its subsidiary bodies. If the Council concluded that such an examination was appropriate by then, it would decide that the Director-General convene a session of the CCP for this purpose as well as the consideration of the proposed strategy. Otherwise it would be considered by an ad hoc consultation.
1 CL 64/8 para. 155.
2 CL 64/8 para. 170.
29. The Council had before it the unofficial texts of the resolutions and declarations adopted by the World Food Conference 2, which were circulated pending the issuance by the United Nations of the official Report of the Conference. The Council also had before it a compendium of extracts from these resolutions, containing those operative paragraphs which appeared to call for specific action by FAO 3, and a note by the Director-General advancing some preliminary suggestions as to the action which the Council might take at its present session 4. In the course of the session, the Director-General circulated a “Preliminary Brief Outline of Probable Shape of the Programme of Work and Budget 1976–77” 5.
30. The Council welcomed the conclusions and decisions of the World Food Conference, which paved the way for a considerable strengthening of international cooperation in tackling the world food problem. The true impact of the Conference would, however, depend on the manner in which its recommendations were implemented. Bearing in mind both the gravity of the problem and the importance of maintaining the momentum that had been built up at the Conference, the Council felt that FAO should respond as rapidly and effectively as possible to these decisions. In this spirit, it gave preliminary consideration to the findings of the Conference pending the formal decisions that would be taken on them by ECOSOC and the UN General Assembly. The representative of the United Nations noted with gratification the desire of the Council not to prejudge at this stage the results of the forthcoming discussions of the Conference's report by ECOSOC and the UN General Assembly, and to take fully into account the relevant deliberations of the competent United Nations organs regarding the framework for inter-agency collaboration in achieving the objectives of the Conference.
31. The Council recognized that a start should be made on implementing certain recommendations of the World Food Conference, particularly those mentioned in document CL 64/LIM/4, as soon as they had been endorsed by the Economic and Social Council and the UN General Assembly. To this end, the Council authorized the Director-General to make commitments for expenditure in 1975 up to a ceiling of $ 1 000 000, this figure to be reviewed by the Council at its March 1975 Session. Commitments not involving clearly continuing obligations would, as far as possible, be submitted for a prior review by the Programme and Finance Committees, but could be made by the Director-General in urgent cases and reported to the two committees ex post facto. Commitments involving continuing obligations should be subject to prior review by the Programme and Finance Committees at their special joint session. Several members suggested that such commitments be also subject to examination by the March 1975 Council Session. The Council, however, delegated authority to the two committees to approve such commitments. The funds for meeting such commitments should be found first from programme savings where possible and then if necessary, from the currency savings available from 1974 or which might arise in 1975.
1 CL 64/LIM/3, CL 64/LIM/4, CL 64/LIM/8, CL 64/LIM/11, CL 64/INF/12, CL 64/INF/14,
CL 64/PV/9, CL 64/PV/10, CL 64/PV/15, CL 64/PV/16, CL 64/PV/19.
2 CL 64/INF/12.
3 CL 64/LIM/3.
4 CL 64/LIM/4.
5 CL 64/LIM/8.
32. The Council appreciated the general approach and proposals made by the Director-General in document CL 64/LIM/4, which had facilitated its discussions and conclusions. It authorized him to implement these proposals subject to the observations of the Council recorded in this report. It noted the Director-General's intention of keeping Member Governments informed, also through their Representatives in Rome, of developments during the coming months.
33. The Council felt that any discussion of the proposed World Food Council or decision on detailed arrangements concerning the Secretariat would be premature, pending a decision by the UN General Assembly on the recommendation of the World Food Conference. It agreed, however, that the Director-General should be in a position to make necessary services immediately available for the new body if it should be formally created by the UN General Assembly at its current session. For that purpose it authorized the Director-General to offer four professional posts plus secretarial and related services. The Council noted the intention of the Director-General to appoint a senior official of the Organization to act as head of the interim secretariat thus created, in addition to his normal duties.
34. Pending the establishment of the proposed Committee on World Food Security, the Council authorized the Director-General to convene one or more ad hoc consultations on world food security open to all States Members of the United Nations, and Member Nations and Associate Members of FAO and charged with the functions suggested in the World Food Conference resolutions on this subject.
35. With regard to the proposed reconstitution of the Intergovernmental Committee of the World Food Programme, the Council heard a suggestion from the Executive Director that the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the Director-General of FAO, in consultation with him should convene an ad hoc meeting open to all States Members of the United Nations, and Member Nations and Associate Members of FAO to consider the specific questions raised by the World Food Conference recommendation. The recommendations of the ad hoc meeting, which could be held in conjunction with the next session of the Intergovernmental Committee in March 1975, would be submitted to the Economic and Social Council and the FAO Council, which would in turn make recommendations to the UN General Assembly and the FAO Conference.
36. In the light of this suggestion, the Council requested the Executive Director to prepare, in consultation with the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the Director-General of FAO, a report on the whole question of the reconstitution of the IGC into the Committee on Food Aid Policies and Programmes from the point of view of membership, geographical composition, periodicity of sessions, handling of the old and new functions, and the arrangements for exercising the enlarged responsibilities. The Council recommended that the Secretary-General and the Director-General convene an ad hoc consultation, open to all States Members of the United Nations, and Member Nations and Associate Members of FAO to consider the report and make recommendations to ECOSOC and the FAO Council. The Council further proposed that the ad hoc consultation be convened on 26 and 27 March 1975, immediately following the Twenty-Seventh IGC Session from 17 to 25 March 1975.
37. The Council agreed that the Global Information and Early Warning System on Food and Agriculture as recommended by the World Food Conference should be established in FAO, incorporating in it the related FAO activities already existing in this field, and requested the Director-General (a) to take the necessary steps under the Regular Programme to set up the System as soon as possible and also to enlist the cooperation of WMO, the International Wheat Council and other interested organizations as appropriate, and (b) to submit to the March 1975 Council Session specific proposals on the working arrangements that would be necessary to put the System into full operation as envisaged by the World Food Conference. One member reserved its position with regard to the System.
38. The Council approved the participation of FAO in an appropriate capacity in organizing the Consultative Group on Food Production and Investment in developing countries (CGFPI) as proposed by the World Food Conference. The possibility of utilizing such approaches for agricultural extension, agricultural credit, and rural development, was also noted. The Council felt, however, that the successful pattern of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research would probably have to be modified before it could be used with equal success in these and other cases.
39. The Council felt that it was premature to consider the services which FAO could render to the proposed International Fund for Agricultural Development. It would be for the Fund itself, after its creation, to indicate the modalities of the cooperation it would like to establish with FAO.
40. The Council agreed that the recommendations of the Conference would have a major impact on the Organization, and called for a searching re-examination of FAO priorities. The new activities called for by the Conference should in the first place be carried out through a shift of priorities and a concentration of efforts; insofar as new priorities could not be funded in this way additional resources should be sought. In the consideration of priorities, due weight should be given to the recommendations of the Regional Conferences, as well as to programme areas outside the purview of the World Food Conference.
41. The Council noted the contents of document CL 64/LIM/8 and its Corrigendum, and the views of the Director-General that a programme increase of the order of 32 percent in real terms would be necessary in 1976–77 for an effective response to the Conference's recommendations, representing a total budget level of around $191 million for the biennium. The Council heard some preliminary observations to the effect that the document covered a large and complex ground and would need a thorough review. It requested the Programme and Finance Committees to meet in special joint session from 15 January 1975 to consider document CL 64/LIM/8 and its Corrigendum together with the supplementary information that the Director-General would prepare before that date. It was suggested that the Director-General make all afforts to send the report of the Committees to members as quickly as possible and should, in addition, brief the Representatives of Member Governments in Rome, as to the outcome of discussion in the joint session. The decision which the Economic and Social Council and the UN General Assembly would shortly be making on the report of the World Food Conference should, in particular, be taken into account by the two Committees.
42. The recommendations of the Programme and Finance Committees would be considered by the Council at a special session for which the dates were set at 10–14 March 1975. The Council urged the Director-General to make every effort to ensure that the documentation for its special session was circulated as much in advance as possible. On that occasion, the Council would consider (a) the impact of the World Food Conference on the programme of FAO for 1975 and the following years; (b) the budgetary consequences, and (c) the effect on FAO of the institutional recommendations of the World Food Conference and the decisions that would by then have been taken on them by the Economic and Social Council and the UN General Assembly. In the light of the Council's views on items (a) and (b), the Director-General would then prepare his Summary Programme of Work and Budget for 1976–77. Item (c) might receive only preliminary consideration at that session. For this purpose the Director-General would make available a paper bearing on all aspects of this question. Arrangements could, if necessary, be made thereafter to prepare a review of action required for consideration in depth at the Council's mid-1975 (Sixty-Sixth) Session. A suggestion was made that the latter session could be scheduled in July to provide adequate time for examination of the Summary Programme of Work and Budget by the Programme and Finance Committees, and other questions by the appropriate committees and Member Governments. A final decision on this question was left to the Chairman of the Council and the Director-General in the light of other meetings.
43. The Council requested the Programme and Finance Committees to give full attention, at their special joint session, to the question of decentralization, which was emphasized by many members and which the Director-General had raised in document CL 64/LIM/8, paragraphs 70–73. A number of members also expressed their support for the proposal in paragraph 76 of the document for an unprogrammed reserve, part of which would be available to the Regional Offices and part centrally for unprogrammed technical assistance.
44. The Council requested the Director-General to transmit the report of its deliberations on this item to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, with a view to assisting consideration of the World Food Conference's report by ECOSOC and the UN General Assembly.
45. The Council considered the text of the proposed International Undertaking on World Food Security, which had been transmitted to it by the Committee on Commodity Problems (CCP) in the form adopted by the Ad Hoc Working Party on World Food Security. In his introductory remarks, the Chairman of the Committee on Commodity Problems referred specifically to the comments and recommendations of the CCP on the Undertaking as contained in the report of its Forty-Ninth Session.
46. The Council noted that the text of the International Undertaking on World Food Security represented a positive result of a delicately balanced compromise of many different viewpoints. There was wide support for the adoption of the Undertaking and for its early transmittal by the Director-General to all Governments. The Council agreed that the Undertaking should be viewed in the light of the comments and recommendations of the Committee on Commodity Problems at its Forty-Ninth Session. In particular, it recognised that while adequate stock policies were an essential element of world food security, it was equally important if not more urgent, to accelerate food production, particularly in developing countries. In view of the difficulties faced by the developing countries in building up and maintaining stocks, as well as developing storage facilities, the Council stressed the urgent need for helping the developing countries to build and replenish their stocks through food aid and financial assistance, as well as to create adequate storage facilities. In this connexion, the Council agreed that the terms of reference of the intergovernmental consultations envisaged in Section VI of the Undertaking should be interpreted broadly and that the consideration of any remedial policy action as envisaged under paragraph 16(c) of the Undertaking should also include the progress made in providing food aid and financial assistance to developing countries for meeting the minimum requirements of cereals, the maintenance of stocks and development of storage facilities.
47. Some members considered that the provisions referring to the “Necessary Safeguards” in paragraph 7 of this Undertaking should be expressed in more mandatory terms.
48. The Council noted the views of the Legal Counsel provided to the Forty-Ninth CCP Session that the Undertaking should not be regarded as an international convention or agreement having legally binding force but might be considered a pledge based on mutual trust and good faith, embodying the desire of governments to achieve certain agreed objectives by concerted national and international action 2.
49. As regards commodity coverage in the Undertaking, the Council agreed that initially it should be concerned primarily with cereals. The Council also noted that in the longer run its scope could be widened to cover other basic foodstuffs as well.
50. The Council emphasized that a comprehensive food information system constituted a vital component of the International Undertaking on World Food Security, and hoped that Governments would provide up-to-date information on food and agricultural matters as envisaged in the Undertaking. Several members noted that various technical and practical questions would need to be tackled in order to permit the effective implementation of the Undertaking. In this connexion, the Council expressed its satisfaction that an Expert Consultation to examine such questions was scheduled to be held in February 1975.
1 CL 64/8 paras 41–67, CL 64/PV/16, CL 64/PV/19.
2 CL 64/8 paras 52–53.
51. The Council noted that Resolution XVIII of the World Food Conference recommended that international guidelines for stocks or funds earmarked for meeting international emergency requirements should be developed as a part of the proposed Undertaking to provide for an effective coordination of emergency stocks and to ensure that food relief reached the neediest and most vulnerable groups in developing countries. In an effort to comply with paragraph 6 of Resolution XVIII of the World Food Conference, a draft addition to paragraph 6 of the Undertaking containing the following text was suggested, which the Council referred to Governments for their consideration: “For that purpose (a) Governments should undertake, where possible, to identify within the framework of their national policies, those stocks or funds designated for emergency purposes, and (b) likely recipient countries should elaborate appropriate plans or programmes so as to ensure that food relief reaches the neediest and most vulnerable groups directly, without delay and avoiding losses 1”.
52. As regards follow-up action, the Council requested the Director-General to transmit the International Undertaking on World Food Security to all Member Nations and Associate Members of FAO inviting them to signify their readiness to adopt the objectives, policies and guidelines contained in it. It also requested the Director-General to transmit the Undertaking to non-Member Nations of FAO which were members of the United Nations, drawing attention to the importance of universal participation of all countries in achieving world food security and inviting them to participate in implementing the Undertaking. It was suggested that the ad hoc consultation on World Food Security should be held in May 1975. It was further suggested that it consider matters pertaining to the creation of a standing committee on world food security and that it should carry out a general review of the world food security situation, in particular, the position as regards the adoption by individual governments of the Undertaking. After this review, Governments would be in a better position to consider what further steps were necessary to accelerate the implementation of the Undertaking.
53. The Council accordingly adopted 2 the following Resolution:
1 One member proposed that as soon as possible the Director-General draw up the international guidelines on reserves for emergency cases recommended in the Universal Declaration on the Eradication of Hunger and Malnutrition adopted by the World Food Conference and submit these guidelines for consideration by the Eighteenth Conference Session.
2 One member reserved the position of his Government on the Resolution since it was of the view that food aid provided on concessional terms, as envisaged in the Undertaking, had a disruptive effect on the economy of developing exporting countries. Another member reserved the position of his Government on the Resolution because, in its view, some provisions of the Undertaking concerned the sovereign rights of nations and other provisions were unclear.
INTERNATIONAL UNDERTAKING ON WORLD FOOD SECURITY
Recalling Conference Resolution 3/73 on World Food Security,
Reaffirming the urgent need for effective international action aimed at ensuring the availability at all times of adequate world supplies of basic foodstuffs, so as to avoid acute food shortages in the event of widespread crop failure, natural or other disasters, to sustain a steady expansion of consumption in countries with low levels of per caput intake, and offset fluctuations in production and prices,
Having noted the findings and recommendations submitted in pursuance of Conference Resolution 3/73 by the Ad Hoc Working Party on World Food Security (CCP: 74/14) and giving special consideration to the comments and recommendations of the Forty-Ninth Session of the Committee on Commodity Problems (CL 64/8),
Having further noted Resolutions XVI, XVII and XVIII of the World Food Conference, and in particular operative paragraph 4 of Resolution XVII and operative paragraph 6 of Resolution XVIII,
Recognizing the needs of the developing countries for assistance to increase their food production and build up their national stocks,
1. Adopts the International Undertaking on World Food Security as attached in the Annex,
2. Requests the Director-General to transmit this Resolution and the attached International Undertaking on World Food Security to (a) all Member Nations and Associate Members of FAO inviting them to signify their readiness to adopt the objectives, policies and guidelines contained in the Undertaking; and (b) non-Member Nations of FAO which are Members of the UN, any of its Specialized Agencies or the IAEA, with a substantial interest in world production, consumption and trade of food, primarily cereals, drawing attention to the importance of universal participation of all countries in achieving world food security and inviting them to cooperate in implementing the Undertaking,
3. Further requests the Director-General to invite the Governments concerned to inform him of their decisions by 30 March 1975, and also to communicate what action they envisage taking in the light of the Undertaking,
4. Urges Governments to participate actively in the implementation of the provisions of the International Undertaking and in achieving its objectives,
5. Urges Governments and the concerned international and regional organizations to provide the necessary technical, financial and food assistance in the form of grants or on specially favourable terms to develop and implement appropriate national food stocks policies in developing countries, including the extension of storage and transport facilities, within the priorities of their national development programmes, so that they are in a position to participate effectively in a world food security policy.
ANNEX TO RESOLUTION 1/64
INTERNATIONAL UNDERTAKING ON WORLD FOOD SECURITY
I. Common purpose and responsibility
1. Governments adhering to this Undertaking, taking account of Resolution 3/73 adopted by the Seventeenth Session of the FAO Conference and Resolutions XVI, XVII and XVIII of the World Food Conference, recognize that the assurance of world food security is a common responsibility of the entire international community. They, therefore, undertake to cooperate in doing their utmost to ensure the availability at all times of adequate world supplies of basic foodstuffs, primarily cereals, so as to avoid acute food shortages in the event of widespread crop failures or natural disasters, sustain a steady expansion of production and reduce fluctuations in production and prices.
2. Recognizing that food security needs to be tackled from several sides, especially through strengthening the food production base of developing countries, appropriate national stock policies, food aid programmes, and other measures including long-term trade agreements, governments undertake to adopt national and international measures to ensure an accelerated growth of food production, as appropriate, and in particular to assist the developing countries which are highly vulnerable to crop fluctuations and where there are increasing consumption requirements.
3. As regards stock-holding policies, all governments, in conformity with their institutional and constitutional requirements should:
adopt policies concerning cereal stocks 1 which take into account the policies of other countries and would result in maintaining a minimum safe level of basic cereal stocks for the world as a whole,
review or establish, or take measures aimed at establishing, stock targets or objectives which have the purpose of maintaining stocks of cereals in the country or in the interested groups of countries concerned at least at the levels regarded as necessary for ensuring continuity of supplies including provision for emergency situations in case of crop failure or natural disaster 2,
take measures aimed at ensuring stocks are replenished as soon as feasible whenever they have been drawn down below such minimum levels to meet food shortages.
4. In periods of acute food shortages, nations holding stocks in excess of minimum safe levels for meeting domestic needs and emergencies undertake to make such supplies available for export at reasonable terms.
II. Guidelines for establishing and holding stocks
5. In establishing, reviewing and/or adjusting national stock policies and desirable minimum stock levels, governments should give consideration to the following guidelines which are understood as a framework within which each country would develop its own stock policies according to its circumstances:
Vulnerability to crop failure owing to drought, floods or other natural hazards, and extent of resulting shortfalls in national cereals output,
The size of normal annual requirements for domestic consumption and, where applicable, for export,
The degree of dependence in normal conditions on imports of cereals and the scale of possible emergency import requirements in relation to the average level of world trade of the product concerned,
The period of time required for imports to be arranged and delivered to the country in periods of emergency or sudden domestic shortage, and for internal transportation to centres of consumption,
The period of time likely to be required to expand cereal production sufficiently to replenish stocks if these are drawn down to meet food shortages,
The proportion of national supplies entering commercial market channels,
The requirements of any government distribution programme of foodgrains to vulnerable sections of the population,
The desirability of locating stocks in a manner and place which ensure that the cereals are available for delivery when and where they are most likely to be required; and which, with the available storage and transport facilities, minimise the financial costs involved and also, where appropriate, facilitate urgent shipments to recipient countries in the shortest possible time,
Pledges to WFP and other international food aid programmes and allocations for bilateral food aid programmes, including specific pledges for national and regional stock-building,
Maintaining a regular flow of supplies at reasonable prices to meet foreseeable variations in demand from importing countries,
The possibility of an interruption in the flow of imported supplies by events outside the government's control (dock strike in exporting country, shipping difficulties, etc.),
The special position of developing countries, as set out in Part IV below.
6. The special difficulties of a number of developing countries in maintaining national stocks at desirable minimum levels place an added responsibility on the rest of the international community for ensuring world food security. Governments should take this into account in fixing their stock targets or objectives, and should where possible earmark stocks or funds for meeting international emergency requirements.
III. Necessary safeguards
7. Bearing in mind the serious problems which have arisen in the past owing to the accumulation and disposal of large agricultural surpluses, full consideration should be given by governments to the possible repercussions on the structure of production and trade which might arise from implementing the world food security policy. Governments should continue in this respect to observe the principles and consultative obligations as developed within the FAO and the Consultative Sub-Committee on Surplus Disposal which may be amended and extended as necessary.
8. To this end:
All countries should endeavour to arrange their national food stock policies in ways which avoid adverse effects on the structure of production or international trade, paying particular attention to the interests of developing countries heavily dependent on food exports.
Governments should recognize the need to promote the efficient use of world agricultural resources and consider measures designed to afford producers adequate protection against the effects on world prices of accumulation, retention and release of stocks held as a result of this Undertaking.
IV. Special assistance to developing countries
9. To promote the effective participation of developing countries in this Undertaking, in order to achieve the objectives of world food security, it is imperative to ensure the adequate availability of cereals and accordingly an acceleration of the rate of growth of their agricultural production. Such an increase requires a constant review by the developing countries of their overall agricultural production policies and the various alternative courses they may follow as well as the active support of the international community in the development programmes of the developing countries within the context of their national development priorities. The concerned international financial and technical organizations, the developed and other potential contributor countries should urgently take the necessary measures to enable the developing countries to obtain the required financial, technical and material assistance, and in particular fertilizers and other inputs needed to increase their agricultural production.
10. Continued reliance would also need to be placed on bilateral food aid programmes and the World Food Programme for meeting shortages which cannot be covered through normal commercial trade, as well as unforeseen shortages and emergency situations.
11. International assistance also has an important role in providing food aid and financial assistance on soft-terms or in grant form for meeting the minimum requirements of cereals and the maintenance of stocks, and particularly emergency stocks, in the developing countries, for research on the development of storage facilities suited to conditions in these countries, and in furnishing advice on stock and related policies within the context of national development programmes. Developed countries and other potential contributors as well as the international and regional development agencies concerned should give additional assistance in identifying and mobilizing the resources required by developing countries for these purposes.
12. As regards the WFP in particular, the degree to which it can assist developing countries by providing food aid for national reserves is severely restricted by its resource position and its priorities. Governments should, therefore, consider making additional resources available to the WFP, to enable the Programme to play its role to the fullest possible extent in assisting developing countries to achieve food security as well as in emergency operations.
V. Information system
13. The effective functioning of the world food security system will depend greatly on the availability of timely and adequate information. Governments members of FAO should furnish to the Director-General on a regular basis all the available information on national stock levels, government stockholding programmes and policies, current and prospective export availabilities and import requirements for cereals, and relevant aspects of the supply and demand situation, as well as on assistance provided to the food production programmes in developing countries. Other governments should be invited to provide similar information. In order to avoid unfavourable market repercussions in particular, the Director-General of FAO should ensure, where so requested by a government, that the data supplied by that government to the Information System are made available on a restricted basis only to the governments adhering to the Undertaking.
14. To keep all governments directly informed of current developments in the international cereals position during periods when world supplies are scarce, the Director-General of FAO should prepare, on a quarterly basis or more frequently, concise factual appraisals of the situation and outlook which should be circulated promptly to governments.
15. In the assembly and analysis of information and statistics, the Director-General of FAO should seek the assistance of the International Wheat Council and other intergovernmental organizations concerned.
VI. Intergovernmental consultations
16. The adequacy of world cereal production and stocks should be kept under continuing review, so that timely action can be taken to maintain world food security. For this purpose, the governments adhering to this Undertaking should, with the assistance of FAO and other concerned intergovernmental organizations, consult together to:
Review the progress in accelerating cereals production in developing countries and the assistance provided to them for this purpose, particularly in regard to the supply of essential agricultural inputs,
Make periodic evaluations of the adequacy of current and prospective stock levels, in aggregate in exporting and importing countries, for ensuring a regular flow of supplies of cereals to meet requirements in domestic and world markets, including food aid requirements, in times of short crops and serious crop failure; account should be taken of the considerations set out in the guidelines, and
Examine such short-term and longer-term policy action as considered necessary to remedy any difficulty foreseen in assuring adequate cereal supplies for minimum world food security.
VII. Provision for review of the Undertaking
17. This Undertaking, including arrangements and guidelines, may have to be revised, particularly if future international negotiations lead to the assumption by governments of specific commitments substantially affecting the Undertaking.
1 The term “stocks” means the supply of cereals carried over in stock at the end of the marketing year of the country concerned.
2 It is recognized that some of the major exporting countries of grains and especially rice are developing countries which lack the capital resources required to maintain stocks beyond current requirements.
54. The FAO Conference in Resolution 3/73 on World Food Security had requested the Council to review the situation regarding national stock policies, to advise on further action, and to initiate evaluations of the current and prospective world cereals stock position in the light of the objectives of world food security. In this connexion the Council considered document CL 64/27 which had been prepared by the Secretariat after taking into account the comments of the Committee on Commodity Problems, the Intergovernmental Group on Grains, and the International Wheat Council.
55. The Council noted that total stocks of cereals at the end of the 1973/74 crop year had fallen, the decline occurring in all the main cereals. As world cereals production in 1974 would be below that of 1973 owing to unfavourable weather, cereal stocks were expected to be drawn down further during the 1974/75 season. Stocks were below the official national stock targets of a large number of countries, the majority of whom were developing countries, and mainly food importing countries.
56. The Council also noted that stocks were below the level estimated by the Secretariat as being a minimum safe level required to meet the objectives of world food security. While the Council appreciated the usefulness of analyses of this kind, suggestions were made for possible improvements in the methodology used.
57. The Council agreed that world cereal stocks were at a very low level and a matter for serious concern. It considered that developments in the world food situation should be kept under continuing review in 1974/75 in case urgent action was needed to safeguard consumption levels in the event of crop failure in a major producing region.
58. The Council noted the action being taken by many governments to review their national stock policies, and to increase cereals production with a view to replenishing stocks. It was stressed that in operating stock policies, due care should be taken at the present time to avoid aggravating the already tight supply/demand situation in 1974/75. All efforts should be made to increase assistance programmes (including food aid, fertilizer and other inputs) so as to strengthen the cereals production capacity of developing countries, as well as to implement their national stock programmes, with a view to achieving a better geographical distribution of food supplies and stocks.
59. The Council requested all governments to cooperate to the utmost in providing timely and complete data to the Director-General, in order to ensure the assembly and exchange of all the information required for the purposes of intergovernmental consultations on world food security.
1 CL 64/8, CL 64/27, CL 64/PV/16.
60. The Council considered the first Progress Report of the International Fertilizer Supply Scheme (IFS), expressed its agreement with the operations and priorities being followed and expressed its appreciation for the contribution made by a number of governments that made it possible for IFS to start its operations.
61. At the same time the Council expressed serious concern about the inadequacy and slowness of firm pledges to the Scheme and appealed again to all Governments to increase assistance by earmarking fertilizer, finance and services in amounts commensurate with the magnitude and urgency of the present world fertilizer needs. The Director-General of FAO was requested to renew his appeal to all governments, international organizations and the fertilizer industry to strengthen their support to the International Fertilizer Supply Scheme, as well as their bilateral assistance. In this regard, several members indicated that they had increased their bilateral contributions of fertilizer to countries in need.
62. The Council, aware of the current tight world fertilizer supply situation and its continuing deterioration as a result of further price increases, expressed concern about the serious consequences for developing countries of increasing food shortages that might arise if adequate supplies of fertilizer did not materialize in time. The Council requested that, under the operations of IFS, particular attention be given to the Most Seriously Affected countries in assisting them in procuring fertilizer at reasonable prices.
63. It was realized that financial aspects played an increasingly important role, and therefore, there was need for medium and long-term planning of financial requirements as envisaged in the terms of reference of the Commission on Fertilizers. The Council recognized the need for long-term loans on concessionary terms and, consequently, the need for the involvement of financial institutions in this international effort.
64. The Council reiterated the need for comprehensive information on bilateral and multilateral fertilizer aid programmes and urged Member Governments to cooperate fully with FAO in providing this information as soon as possible. The primary function of the IFS in stimulating contacts between fertilizer importing and exporting countries was emphasized and the proposals by FAO for consultative meetings were noted with satisfaction.
65. In the course of discussions, the necessity for more equitable distribution of fertilizers was emphasized, and governments were urged to give priority to their use for food production. The need for a reduction in the use of fertilizers for non-agricultural purposes was referred to. In view of the present tight fertilizer supply situation governments were also urged to actively encourage the most efficient and economic use of available supplies.
66. Considering the importance of increased fertilizer production in developing countries, the Council reiterated the importance of improving the utilization of fertilizer plants existing in those countries, and the mobilization of additional technical assistance and financial means necessary for the utilization of relevant natural resources and for the establishment of new plants in those countries, especially ones with raw materials or access to them. In this connexion the Council stressed the importance of the work of the UNIDO/FAO/World Bank Working Group on the financing on favorable terms of fertilizer projects.
67. The Council also noted the importance of greater and more effective use of organic materials of all kinds which could improve the availability of plant nutrients. Experience gained in that field should be widely disseminated and implemented.
1 CL 64/11, CL 64/11-Sup.1, CL 64/PV/6, CL 64/PV/7, CL 64/PV/8, CL 64/PV/18, CL 64/PV/19.
68. The Council stressed that FAO, in discharging its functions under IFS, must take into account the medium and long-term aspects of the world fertilizer situation. In this connexion, it suggested that the relationship of the scheme, operated by a small and temporary coordinating unit, with the overall work in FAO on fertilizers should be clarified. The need for work on long-term fertilizer supply and demand projections and analysis was also emphasized.
69. With regard to medium and longer-term developments, the Council noted the World Food Conference resolution requesting the Commission on Fertilizers, in collaboration with the Member States of the United Nations and the other international organizations concerned, to undertake an authoritative analysis in order to provide the elements of a world fertilizer policy, noting also that the Commission on Fertilizers should be guided by the advice and recommendations of the World Food Council.
70. The Council requested another progress report on the operations of IFS to be submitted to the next session of the Commission on Fertilizers, and agreed that this should take place as early as possible, leaving its date to be decided upon by the Chairman of the Commission in consultation with the Director-General of FAO.
71. It was suggested that for some time to come, this item be listed for discussion or decision on the agenda of future sessions.