Johannesburg, South Africa, 1 - 3 March 2004
I. INTRODUCTORY ITEMS
1. The Technical Committee of the Twenty-third FAO Regional Conference for Africa met from 1 to 3 March 2004, at the Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg, Republic of South Africa.
2. The Meeting was attended by 135 delegates from 32 Member Nations of the Region, 11 observers from Member Nations outside the Region, 10 representatives of the United Nations Specialized Agencies and 57 observers from intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, the list of delegates is given as Appendix B.
Opening Ceremony (Agenda Item 1)
3. Dr. Maryam Moustapha Mousa, Minister Plenipotentiary for Agriculture Affairs welcomed participants to the Twenty-third Africa Regional Conference, on behalf of the Arab Republic of Egypt, the outgoing Chair.
4. The FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa, Mr Joseph Tchicaya, welcomed the delegates on behalf of the Director-General of FAO, Mr Jacques Diouf. He expressed FAOs appreciation to the Government of the Republic of South Africa for hosting this Conference and for putting at its disposal the excellent facilities at the Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg. He also thanked the National Organising Committee for its preparatory hard work. He also noted that the Conference also provides an opportunity to stage numerous exhibitions, seminars and other parallel events planned by the national authorities that would enhance the participants stay in the Republic of South Africa, coinciding with the celebrations to mark the 10th anniversary of the end of the apartheid.
5. He referred to the last Conference held in Cairo, Egypt, in February 2002, which unanimously adopted a resolution on the New Partnership for Africas Development (NEPAD) that was reinforced by the Heads of State and Government during the African Union Summit, Maputo in July 2003, thus providing political support to the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) of the NEPAD.
6. Mr Tchicaya observed that FAO had continued to support member countries in various areas related to its mandate and in particular with technical assistance in support of investments and collaboration with investors. He requested the delegates thorough analysis and discussion of the following agenda items:
a. Implementation of the CAADP;
b. Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) for Food Security;
c. Regional priorities in follow-up to the WFS and the WFS:fyl;
d. Contribution of Agricultural Research and Extension to Food Security and Poverty Reduction;
e. Bushmeat crisis;
f. HIV/AIDS and the Food Crisis;
g. International Year of Rice 2004; and
h. FAOs Strategic Framework for Bridging the Rural Digital Divide/ WAICENT.
7. He further referred to the fact that there would be the Round Table on Financing Agricultural Development organised as a parallel session to the Conference.
8. He concluded by stressing that in Africa, the FAO would continue to work on its priorities: food security, poverty reduction and sustainable use and management of natural resources, and with the NEPAD Secretariat, on the implementation of CAADP.
9. In his opening address the Honourable Deputy Minister, Agriculture and Land Affairs, Advocate Dirk du Toit, welcomed the delegates and observers and expressed the appreciation of the Government of the Republic of South Africa for the honour to host the Twenty-third FAO Regional Conference for Africa. He stressed the importance of the event for South Africa, because it allows, South Africa to reflect upon what ten years of democracy means for the country and how that has shaped South Africa's relations with the rest of the continent.
10. He emphasized the need for significant improvement of investment in the agricultural sector, including funding for agricultural research and dissemination of research findings and trade development. He pointed out the strong commitments made by the African Leaders during recent meetings, including: (i) the Maputo Declaration (2003) which adopted the CAADP in the framework of NEPAD and (ii) the Sirte Summit on Agriculture and Water. He further reiterated the decisions taken by African authorities to develop regional food reserve systems and their pledge to allocate at least 10% of national budgets to agricultural development over the next five years. The Deputy Minister called for action.
11. The Deputy Minister continued by stressing the important role of biotechnology in sustainable agricultural development. He indicated that African countries should develop strong partnerships and develop a harmonized approach on biosafety. Advocate du Toit highlighted the need for close collaboration in the fields of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures and the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food Security.
12. The Deputy Minister underscored the onerous and complex technical restrictions being placed on trade.
13. He concluded by emphasizing the importance of sound regional collaboration to develop mitigation strategies against the vagaries of nature focusing on implementation and concrete outputs for achieving the common goal of food security and poverty alleviation.
Election of Chairperson, Vice-Chairpersons and Appointment of Rapporteurs (Agenda Item 2)
14. The Meeting unanimously elected Ms Bongiwe Njobe, Director General, National Department of Agriculture of the Republic of South Africa, as its Chairperson.
15. The Meeting then elected, also by acclamation, the rest of the bureau members as follows:
It was also decided to constitute an Informal Working Group called the Friends of the Rapporteur comprising: Angola, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Egypt, Mali, Madagascar, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
16. On assumption of duty, the Chairperson stressed the need for the meeting to be interactive and results orientated. The focus was on discussing implementation of CAADP and other FAO priority programmes in Africa. A key challenge for the Technical Committee was to start a dialogue on improving the effectiveness of intergovernmental governance especially among Permanent Secretaries in Africa.
Adoption of the Agenda and Timetable (Agenda Item 3)
17. The Meeting adopted the Agenda and Timetable with amendments. The Agenda is given as Appendix A, while the list of documents is shown in Appendix C.
II DISCUSSION ITEMS
Implementation of the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) of NEPAD: Progress Review (ARC/04/4)
18. The Technical Committee welcomed the presentation of this Agenda Item introduced by the NEPAD Secretariat, which elaborated a progress review of the implementation of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). The Meeting took note of the following documents: ARC/04/4.1, ARC/04/4.2, ARC/04/4.3, ARC/04/4.4 and ARC/04/INF/6.
19. Varied progress on CAADP implementation has been realized in all four pillars. Under the Pillar Increasing Food Supply and Reducing Hunger, the following activities are being undertaken: NEPAD Food Reserve System Study; Home Grown School Feeding Programmes; the Conference on Agriculture Successes held in Pretoria, South Africa, December 2003; Pan Africa Cassava Initiative. Under Pillar Land and Water Management, most RECs have identified programmes in their respective regions. An extraordinary summit has been held in Libya to strengthen the linkages between the agriculture and the water sectors under NEPAD. Under Pillar Infrastructure and Market Access, a number of infrastructure programmes have been developed with the support of AfDB. However, it was acknowledged that the market access programmes were not well defined. The Agricultural Research And Technology Dissemination and Adoption pillar is being implemented in association with FARA and the World Bank focuses on the development of the Multi-Country Agriculture Productivity Programme (MAPP). The Technical Committee acknowledges that the involvement of Civil Society Organizations (CSO) is critical, therefore, it was expected that the synthesis report from the consultation of Continental Farmers' Organization on CAADP held in February 2004 in Johannesburg would provide useful input into the CAADP implementation.
20. Progress has also been made by a number of countries on the follow-up of the Maputo commitment of allocating at least 10% of national budgets to agriculture within 5 years. Almost all the countries are being assisted by FAO in updating their national agricultural, rural development and food security strategies and policies and preparing Medium Term Investment Programmes and bankable projects. In addition, a CAADP Support Group has been established to mobilize international financial resources and technical support for its implementation.
21. Delegates gave particular importance to linking and integrating the CAADP and its bankable projects into on-going national development plans and other official frameworks including the PRSPs.
22. The Meeting noted the importance and value in exchange of experiences on notable successes within the continent and expressed the need of exchange of experiences through bilateral consultations that would be built around the South-South cooperation.
23. The Meeting noted the importance of integrating fisheries, forestry and livestock as a companion component to CAADP. However, there is need for further and broader consultation with national governments as well as farmers associations in order to address their concerns and identify priority areas for intervention and effective investment.
24 The Committee highlighted the urgency of the development of rural infrastructure, including roads and markets in the continent. In this regard, The Meeting agreed that the NEPAD and AfDB infrastructure programme should broaden its focus on rural infrastructure in support of food production and access to markets.
25. The Committee highlighted the need to establish African centres of excellence as the basis of facilitating capacity building.
26. It further urged that the implementation process of the CAADP should consider how to empower the women, taking into account critical elements such as: land ownership, access to financial resources, diffusion of modern technology, market access and information, etc.
27. The Meeting expressed the need to consider the possibility of a peer review of the sector to ensure good governance in the implementation of the CAADP.
28. The Meeting recognized the need for an effective system of implementing CAADP that entails partnerships between the public, the private sector and the civil society, in particular, the farmers organizations.
29. There is a need for governments to ensure that the 10% mandatory budget allocation yields positive impact.
30. In forging the way forward for the implementation of the CAADP at national, regional and continental level, the Meeting recommended:
a. The establishment of a Forum of Permanent Secretaries in order to support and ensure the implementation process of the CAADP at the national, regional and continental level in an effective and coherent manner.
b. The setting up of CAADP focal points at national level to drive the process;
c. The preparation of annual reports on progress of the implementation of CAADP by the NEPAD Secretariat;
d. The establishment of a mechanism by NEPAD with the support of FAO for monitoring the progress of the CAADP, including defining performance indicators.
Initiative to review and update National Agricultural, Rural Development and Food Security Strategies and Policies (ARC/04/INF/6)
31. In line with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and following the World Food Summit: five years later in June 2002, FAO launched an Initiative to Support the Review and Update of National Strategies and Policies for Food Security and Agricultural Development. The purpose of the presentation was to update the Regional Conference on the process followed, to present some of the key results obtained and explore the way forward.
32. So far, 47 draft summary National Strategies for Food Security and Agricultural Development have been prepared for Africa that will provide the overall framework for Medium-term Investment Programmes (MTIP) and bankable projects. Besides, 29 Country Policy Profiles (CPPs) give insight into the areas where there is a need to strengthen Member countries capacity for policy and strategy formulation.
33. The process helped to identify the main focus of the strategies adopted and the key issues member countries in the region face when trying to develop agriculture and improve food security. The information is consistent with the NEPAD/CAADP and will orient normative work conducted by FAO and other organizations to better meet the needs of Member countries. The results demonstrate the advantages of having a regular information gathering process that could be reviewed by the Regional Conference in terms of identifying needs and priorities.
34. The Meeting urged member countries, who had not done so, to follow up on engagement with FAO to conclude the process.
Integrating Forestry, Fisheries and Livestock issues into the CAADP (ARC/04/4.2)
35. The Technical Committee welcomed the introduction of the paper presented as companion document to strengthen Forestry, Fisheries and Livestock issues in the CAADP. This paper aimed essentially at integrating forestry, fisheries and livestock development into CAADP and mainstreaming environmental sustainability into the programme.
36. The Committee was further informed that each of these components had defined priority areas of intervention and provided preliminary assessment of resource requirements.
37. The Secretariat recalled that this paper was still a draft and requested comments and suggestions from member countries and their development partners to enable its revision and finalization before subsequent submission to the AU Heads of State and Government Summit in July 2004.
Fertilizers production and use in Africa (ARC/04/4.3)
38. The Meeting recognized the importance of this input in increasing crop production and productivity for greater food security.
39. The Meeting however noted the existence of numerous constraints for smallholder farmers to access this input. Major constraints noted included the high costs of fertilizer and the difficulty of accessing this and other agricultural inputs in the rural areas.
40. The Meeting recommended that FAO should assist member countries to develop sustainable approaches for soil fertility improvement based on integrated natural resources management and greater integration of crop-livestock systems. Attention should be given to the improvement of fertilizer availability, affordability and production in Africa on the basis of regional and sub-regional cooperation and the involvement of the private sector.
Establishment of Regional Food Reserve Systems, including food stocks (ARC/04/4.4)
41. As indicated in the FAO paper, which is an input to a larger study by WFP and NEPAD, the rationale for the establishment of Regional Food Security Reserve Systems in Africa is based on three major grounds. First, poor market integration in the continent has resulted in huge price variations over time and between regions, and production shortfalls cannot easily be accommodated through intraregional or interregional and international trade. Secondly, agriculture in Africa is predominately rain-fed resulting in huge production fluctuations due to inter-seasonal and inter-annual rainfall variations, and recurring droughts and/or floods. As a result there is increased dependence on trade to meet domestic food requirements. Thirdly, during recent years the incidence of emergencies and the role of safety nets, especially in Southern and Eastern Africa, have significantly increased.
42. After discussion, the Committee agreed that food reserve systems should be established:
a. in the context of an integrated food security system and their stock size, commodity composition and location should be clearly defined;
b. if an appropriate policy environment is put in place to encourage and guarantee participation of private sector in domestic and international grain markets;
c. without distorting domestic prices;
d. with a size ideally equivalent to one-to-three months of estimated annual import requirements of the major cereal consumed, and in strategic locations; and
e. as building blocks at country level for regional/sub-regional food reserve systems while avoiding physical reserves at the regional or sub-regional level due to the high management and transport costs involved. At regional level the aim should be financial resource mobilization and emergency coordination.
43. The Meeting noted that further comments could be made on the document and these would be taken into consideration in the finalisation of the study.
Integrated Water Resources Management for Food Security in Africa (ARC/04/5)
44. The Meeting welcomed the presentation of this agenda item and commended FAO for the priority accorded to water management.
45. The Meeting noted that the paper raised issues of regional and national concerns regarding the critical state of food insecurity in Africa while only 4% of the internal renewable water resources were tapped. However, the increasing inter-sectoral competition for water was likely to lead to water scarcity for the agricultural sector. Indeed, each sub-sector was developing its own strategy, without heeding the needs of the others. This fragmentary subsectoral management of water was no longer acceptable in a context of rapidly increasing multifaceted demand and diminishing water resources.
46. The document reviewed the principles underlying integrated water resource management (IWRM) and showed that the objectives of food security can only be achieved, all other requisites being met, within the framework of IWRM. It noted that despite the significant increase in world food output in the past 40 years, some 842 million people in the world were still suffering from hunger, including 23 percent of them in Sub-Saharan Africa.
47. It was further noted that more than three-quarters of the worldwide increase in food production in recent decades has been due to higher yields and an expansion of irrigated area. Africa had 12.7 million hectares under irrigation in 2000, equivalent to about 7 percent of its arable land and one-quarter of its irrigation potential. Agricultural water use already accounts for 85% of all water withdrawals in the continent but some 60 % of the water withdrawn is lost in a variety of ways. Hence there is potential for improving water use efficiency and water productivity.
48. The Meeting acknowledged that IWRM was now considered the most appropriate framework for "good water governance". Indeed, the water policy of many development partners and development financing institutions, was stressing the need for a global water policy framework.
49. The challenges to Africa were to overcome the following constraints: insufficient mobilization of water for agricultural purpose to ensure food security and combat poverty, insufficient research and development activities for the mobilization and management of water resources, insufficient local expertise, insufficient public investment and little effort to marshal the private investment that could significantly stimulate the sector.
50. The Meeting highlighted the risks associated with rain-fed agriculture in semi-arid and drought-prone areas and acknowledged the need for countries to rely on irrigation for food security. It recommended the adoption of drought mitigation measures for those areas subject to frequent weather vagaries leading to famine and food aid requirements.
a. The Meeting noted, with appreciation, the summary of the Sirte Declaration on the Challenges on Implementing Integrated and Sustainable Development of Agriculture and Water in Africa as was presented by the representative of African Union. The Declaration, which has 25 action points, emphasized inter alia the commitment of the AU Heads of State and Government to encourage bilateral agreements on shared water resources and to enjoin the Regional Economic Communities to develop appropriate regional protocols to guide IWRM. In this regard, copies of the Declaration were distributed to the participants.
b. The Committee specially underlined the need for private sector participation in the development of water resources for agricultural production and other uses. It further called for strategic combination of both public and private investment in water control for food security. It emphasized the role of NEPAD in steering national public investment and official development assistance (ODA) towards IWRM for the achievement of the WFS goals.
c. The Meeting acknowledged the good performance of South-South Cooperation in the framework of the Special Programme for Food Security and commended FAO for its assistance in this respect. It further acknowledged the potential for South-South Cooperation within the continent and encouraged FAO to make further use of the potential.
d. The Committee acknowledged the important role of irrigation in food production and poverty reduction and recommended that it should be integral to any strategy to sustainably increase agricultural output. It further recognized the advantages of small-scale irrigation and requested FAO to assist member countries to expand their water management programmes within the framework of the SPFS. The participants, however, emphasized the need to build environmental and health protection measures into irrigation development programmes and improve water efficiency and productivity through the adoption of water saving techniques and better on-farm water management.
e. The Meeting recommended the adoption of IWRM as a strategic framework for all socio-economic development activities capitalizing on success stories in the continent. It further called on Member countries to elaborate regional cooperation frameworks for the sustainable management of shared water resources.
Follow-up of the World Food Summit and the World Food Summit: Five years later - Regional Dimensions (ARC/04/3)
51. The Meeting expressed appreciation for the initiatives taken by FAO to implement the World Food Summit Plan of Action and the World Food Summit: five years later. The Meeting noted, however, that the progress towards the WFS goal of reducing the number of the undernourished has so far been disappointing. The number of undernourished people in Sub-Saharan Africa has increased from 168 million in 1990/92 to 202 million people in 1999-2001.
52. The increase in the number of the undernourished has been more significant in some sub-regions than in others. In Central Africa, the number of undernourished tripled, fuelled by the civil conflict and also increased in East and Southern Africa, due to drought and civil strife.
53. The Meeting raised concern about this situation and especially that under business as usual scenario the number may even be higher by 2015.
54. The Meeting made the following recommendations:
a. Governments should step up their efforts to translate the commitments made at the WFS and at the WFS:fyl into action;
b. The need for governments to coordinate policies and programmes and have holistic inter-disciplinary approach to tackle food insecurity in all its dimensions.
c. Governments should accord high priority to food and the agricultural sector within a broad-based development framework, and that development approaches, strategies and programmes be nationally owned;
d. Regional Economic Communities should explore creating internal funding mechanisms to help implement their respective Regional Programmes for food security;
e. FAO should ensure that apart from cassava and rice, other staple crops such as maize be given due emphasis in CAADP, in view of its importance in the diet of many member countries; research be undertaken to diversify in the long-term diets in countries where maize is the main food commodity;
f. FAO should continue to provide its technical assistance to member countries towards the work on grain reserves in view of their importance at national, sub-regional, and regional levels.
Contribution of agricultural research and extension to food security and poverty alleviation (ARC/04/INF/5)
55. The paper emphasized the constraints, opportunities and challenges of technology transfer mechanisms. The Meeting noted the lack, in particular, of long-term research funding, weak agricultural research and extension linkages and insufficient attention to farmers needs. The opportunities rest in the realm of available strong capacity to conduct agricultural research, the availability of NEPAD/CAADP strategy and well established existing sub-regional research networks and development partners. The effective configuration of endogenous and modern technologies constitutes a special challenge. The paper also refers to the need for private sector involvement and recognizes the relevance of the adverse impact of HIV/AIDS for agricultural technology development and its transfer to farmers.
56. The Meeting agreed that an Agricultural Research Extension System Support Programme which aims to reinforce achievement of the established NEPAD/CAADP goals requires urgent implementation with the assistance of FAO, NEPAD Secretariat, FARA and other stakeholders.
57. The Meeting took note of the proposal for action research for food security involving all relevant stakeholders and funding agencies. The proposal also included a suggestion to co-ordinate activities at the sub-regional level by the existing Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and continental co-ordination by the NEPAD Secretariat.
58. It was also observed that research plays a critical role in the transformation process from subsistence farming to commercial farming. In this regard, the Meeting:
a) stressed the need for an African research agenda to cover all sub-sectors;
b) especially underlined the necessity for the effective use of existing technologies and the opportunities provided by intra-Africa technical cooperation;
c) urged FAO to continue its efforts in further enhancing NARS capacity building in the areas of agricultural research, knowledge and technology transfer, and strengthening the linkage between research, extension and farmers to effectively reverse productivity decline;
d) recognized the urgent need for a demand-driven agricultural research and extension agenda that aims at problem solving for intended beneficiaries;
e) endorsed the critical importance of effective transfer mechanisms for achieving the established CAADP agricultural goals;
f) endorsed in principle the recommendation to hold sub-regional conferences on agricultural research and extension. The details will be worked out among FARA, NEPAD, FAO and other stakeholders;
g) recommended that more attention should be given to the funding of ARES in line with the financial commitments made by the Governments, regional and international funding agencies;
h) urged NEPAD, FARA and FAO to report on progress at the next FAO Africa Regional Conference.
The Bushmeat Crisis in Africa: Conciliating Food Security and Biodiversity Conservation (ARC/04/INF/7)
59. The Committee noted that bushmeat continues to play an important role in providing protein, medicine and in improving income for rural poor. However, population growth and commercial hunting have led many key species to a dramatic decline while others are at the brink of extinction.
60. Delegates expressed the views that in many areas in Africa, bushmeat is crucial for the survival of local populations, such as indigenous people of the Congo Basin Forests. It was also noted that bushmeat is not only food, but also is an important part of social uses and customs. Therefore it was recommended that Governments, FAO and international Partners should accord particular attention to identify appropriate alternative solutions and help implement them in close collaboration with local communities.
61. Concerns were expressed about impacts of bushmeat on population health. On this issue, the Committee Recommended that FAO, in collaboration with relevant International and Regional Organizations, should initiate studies on sanitary risks and eventual diseases transmitted through bushmeat consumption.
62. The Meeting also noted that a number of African countries had commendable actions aiming at empowering local communities in the management of wildlife and game reserves. It was felt that such initiatives will help better balance the food security and biodiversity conservation issues.
63. The Meeting requested FAO to work with Member countries and development partners to continue sharing experiences on the subject.
HIV/AIDS and the Food Crisis in Sub-Saharan Africa (ARC/04/INF/8)
64. The presentation focused on FAOs response to the changing context of agricultural development, as a result of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. HIV/AIDS is at last being recognised as a humanitarian disaster, with prevalence rates now rising to unprecedented levels of over 30% amongst adults in several countries in southern Africa. The epidemic is a long-term event and unfolds in three waves: HIV prevalence, AIDS deaths and wider impacts. At present the impact wave is developing in Africa. If left unchecked, this situation could give rise to socio-economic calamities of staggering proportions, including widespread food shortages and a weakened capacity for effective governance.
65. The Meeting took note of FAOs responses at macro/meso level or institutional, community and the households/individual level and identified areas, which require further action and follow-up. Two critical areas for FAOs future strategy stand out: one, the prevention of double emergencies of HIV/AIDS and food shortages in Africa and elsewhere; and two, the assistance to be provided to member countries to develop effective agriculture and rural resource-based mitigation and rehabilitation responses to the epidemic.
66. The subsequent discussion illustrated that an increasing number of countries have elaborated National HIV/AIDS Action Plans, with valuable experiences to be shared with others. Some have declared the epidemic a National disaster; other countries are open to pronounce a State of Humanitarian Emergency while others were not disposed to this suggestion.
67. The Meeting recognized that food security and agricultural/rural development are central in addressing the epidemic and commended FAO on its efforts to mitigate its effects. In particular the Committee adopted the following recommendations:
a. Governments should take urgent action to review and strengthen agricultural policy and programming in order to mainstream HIV/AIDS considerations in sectoral strategies for agricultural development;
b. Development partners, especially UN/AIDS, WHO, FAO and the World Bank in close cooperation with NEPAD should increase their budget allocation to strengthening the institutional capacity to combat the epidemic through increasing collaboration with governments, NGOs and civil society;
c. All parties involved should aim to reach an integrated response to cover the emergency-to-development continuum whilst maintaining a humanitarian perspective.
The International Year of Rice (ARC/04/INF/9)
68. The Meeting took note of the presentations by FAO Secretariat with a contribution from WARDA, which underlined the importance of rice-based systems in agricultural development in Africa.
69. The document highlighted constraints hampering production efforts as well as exploiting available opportunities to increase rice production. A set of strategies and policies was proposed to improve rice production for most favourable ecologies considering the needs of women who are often neglected in agriculture despite their considerable contributions to farming.
70. The Meeting took note of the high potential contribution of NERICA to food security and urged Member countries to promote the dissemination of the new rice variety.
71. The Meeting encouraged member countries to observe the International Year of Rice.
FAO Strategic Framework for Bridging the Rural Digital Divide (ARC/04/INF/10)
72. The goal of the Programme is to assist Low-Income Food Deficit Countries (LIFDCs) to bridge the rural digital divide in support of improved food security and reduced poverty through the effective use of knowledge and information.
73. The rationale for the Programme is that the rural digital divide is not only concerned with technology infrastructure and connectivity, but rather is a multi-faceted problem of ineffective knowledge exchange and management of information content, as well as the lack of human resources, institutional capacity, and gender sensitivity, and these need to be addressed in coordinated manner by various national stakeholders and international partners.
74. The Committee noted the information contained in the document as well as the presentation on South Africas experience with policy management to facilitate bridging the rural digital divide.
III. OTHER MATTERS
75. The Meeting noted that Portuguese-speaking countries in Africa use other FAO languages to communicate during conferences. This situation is causing serious communication problems particularly in the exchange of information during technical meetings.
76. The Conference recommended FAO to consider the use of Portuguese language during the 33rd Session of the FAO Conference in 2005.
77. The Regional Conference considered the proposal for holding a regional conference on Food Safety for Africa. It noted that the African countries Permanent Representatives to FAO have started discussion on the matter with the FAO/WHO Secretariats. The Conference supported the convening of a Regional Conference on Food Safety for Africa in principle, and decided that Rome-based Permanent Representatives should continue their discussion with FAO/WHO Secretariat to agree on time and venue of the Conference.
IV. CONCLUDING ITEMS
Adoption of the Technical Committee Report
78. The Meeting considered its report and adopted it with some modifications.
Closure of the Technical Committee Meeting
79. In his concluding remarks, Mr. Joseph Tchicaya, FAO Assistant Director-General/Regional Representative for Africa, expressed gratitude to the Government of South Africa and in particular the Ministry of Agriculture and Land Affairs for the excellent arrangements made for the Meeting, which had largely contributed to the success of the Technical Committee. He particularly commended the Chairperson for her professional and personal support and guidance given. He confirmed that the Final Report of the Committee would be transmitted to the Ministerial Session of the Twenty-third FAO Regional Conference for Africa for appropriate action. Lastly, Mr. Tchicaya thanked the delegates for their contributions and sharing of experiences, which had enriched the discussions and resulted in concrete recommendations.
80. The Chairperson, Ms Bongiwe Njobe, Director-General, National Department of Agriculture, in her closing remarks thanked the Director-General of FAO for the opportunity given to South Africa to host the Twenty-third FAO Regional Conference for Africa and the delegates for their attendance and active participation. She also thanked the FAO Secretariat for the good quality Conference documents and for putting together the report. Ms Njobe looked forward to seeing effective implementation of the recommendations made by the Meeting, which she expected would go a long way towards solving the problem of hunger and poverty in Africa. She thanked all support staff and wished those traveling back home a safe journey.
81. On behalf of the African Permanent Representatives to FAO, the Delegate of Cape Verde thanked the Government of South Africa for the exceptional hospitality extended to all the guests and the excellent arrangements made to ensure the success of the Conference.