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Current World Food Situation1

13.The Council endorsed the analysis of the current world food situation and outlook as presented in the document and considered the assessment clear and comprehensive. It provided a useful background of the Council's consideration of the Director-General's Plan of Action on World Food Security, the Summary Programme of Work and Budget for the next biennium and, in general, for assessing progress towards the objectives of a New International Economic Order.

14.The Council felt that despite further improvement in world food supplies as a result of generally good crops in 1978, the current food situation remained uncertain, if not fragile in the developing countries. It noted with concern that twenty-four countries were facing unfavourable crop conditions, that wheat and coarse grain production in 1979 was forecast well below the trend and would fall short of consumption requirements in 1979/80 and that serious drought conditions prevailed in parts of Africa and South Asia where monsoons were yet to arrive. In view of the uncertain crop prospects for 1979, the Council requested the Director-General to take appropriate early action, to tackle any emergencies that might arise.

15.The Council appreciated the prompt action that the Director-General had taken in the fight against the large number of emergency situations that had arisen in 1978. However, the desert locust infestation still posed a threat to agricultural production in some 50 countries in Africa and Asia, and the fight against African swine fever needed to be continued although good progress had been reported in several countries. It strongly endorsed the Director-General's appeal for urgently needed contributions to the Desert Locust Control and other Special Action Programmes

16.The Council noted FAO's latest estimates, according to which the increase in the world, as well as the developing countries' food production in 1978 was 2.9 percent, with larger gains in the developed countries. Cereal production rose by 7 percent to reach a new record, and world cereal stocks further increased in 1978/79 to represent about 20 percent of apparent consumption. However, these favourable developments masked a number of disturbing features in the longer-term trends. Although the average rate of growth of food production in developing countries during 1970-78 had come up to that of the 1960s, the target of 4 percent annual increase set for Development Decade 2 would not be achieved. The incidence of hunger and under-nourishment showed no signs of abating, especially in the most seriously affected (MSA) countries. In spite of a slight recovery of food production in Africa in 1978, the region's average rate of food production increase so far in this decade remained well below the growth rate of population. The Council urged the Member Countries in Africa to take determined action to increase food production, as recommended in the Arusha Resolution on the Regional Food Plan for Africa, and requested developed countries and international organizations to provide the necessary financial and technical support.

17.The Council was informed that the cereal imports of developing countries was forecast to rise to 78 million tons in 1978/79 from 70 million tons in 1977/78, and that of MSA countries to go up from 16 million tons to 18 million tons. The Council expressed concern that the growing burden of imports of food, particularly of cereals, was progressively reducing the developing countries' trade balance in agriculture and adversely affecting their capacity to import capital goods, fertilizers and other agricultural requisites for their economic development. A number of members stressed in this connexion that if the recent rising trend in the price of wheat continued, the developing countries would suffer from an unbearable foreign exchange burden, especially since the level of food aid hardly showed any increase.

18. The Council noted with regret that the food aid allocations for 1978/79 again fell short of the World Food Conference's minimum target of 10 million tons of cereals, and that the pledges to the International Emergency Food Reserve for 1979 were far short of the annual target of 500 000 tons of cereals. Resources pledged to the World Food Programme for 1979/80 were still about a quarter below the target of US$ 950 million. The Council urged both traditional and potential donors to make additional or new pledges as appropriate to cover these shortfalls.

19. Concern was expressed at the likelihood of a decline in the area sown this year to important cereals in some major exporting countries. This would tend to reduce production when it might be badly needed. It was explained that such shifts reflected farmer responses to disadvantageous prices and were not a result of government policy.

20. The carryover stocks of cereals - excluding those held by China and the USSR - were forecast in the document to increase by end of 1978/79 to a level which was statistically adequate for world food security. However, the Council noted that there were a number of disquieting features in this overall picture. Firstly, little progress had been made in stock-building in developing countries, with the exception of India, Turkey and to a lesser extent some other Near East countries. Secondly, stocks were heavily concentrated in a few exporting countries which could lead to transport and handling bottlenecks in moving them to needy areas in the event of large-scale crop failures. In this connexion, the Council noted that steps had been taken by some exporting countries to improve their handling and transportation capacity. Thirdly, the stock accumulation in recent years had been mainly concentrated in coarse grains and much less in wheat and rice. This limited the value of the stock increase in terms of world food security as not all coarse grains could be used directly as human food.

21. As regards the short-term prospects, the Council noted that since the 1979 production of wheat and coarse grain was expected to fall short of the current consumption requirements, the cereal carryover stocks were likely to be drawn down during 1979/80. This was viewed as an additional disquieting feature. World food security was still very fragile and dependent on the vagaries of weather. It was suggested that the FAO Early Warning System should be supplemented by action to assist affected countries to meet emergency situations as well as by a disaster-preparedness plan. The possibility of using Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP) resources for programmes to minimize the adverse effects of weather was also suggested.

22. It was also pointed out that the world food security situation was made even more uncertain by the absence of an international grains arrangement with adequate stock and price provisions. The Council expressed its grave concern at the adjournment of the negotiations on a new international grains agreement, and welcomed the Director-General's Plan of Action on World Food Security focussed on the most immediate food security problems. This subject was covered in greater detail under a subsequent item of the Agenda.

23. As regards international agricultural trade, the Council noted the real increase in its value in 1977, which was accompanied by an improvement in the developing countries agricultural terms of trade and an increase in their share of total agricultural exports. But the long-term tendency of this share to decline appeared to have started again in 1978, when developing countries' agricultural terms of trade deteriorated too. Concern was expressed at these recent developments, as well as at the widening gap between food production and consumption requirements of developing countries - especially of MSA countries.

24. Concern was also expressed at the resurgence of protectionism not only for agricultural products but also for processed and semi-processed products in the developed countries, which encouraged output in high-cost producing countries and led to subsidized exports. In this context, the need for improved access for products from developing countries to the markets of developed countries was stressed as a pre-requisite for achieving a New International Economic Order. The Council noted that agreement had been reached in UNCTAD on the fundamental elements of the Common Fund to finance an Integrated Programme for Commodities, and that some improvements had been made in national Generalized Systems of Preference schemes. It also noted that, at the GATT Multilateral Trade Negotiations which were still to be concluded, some progress had been made on tariff reductions.

25. The Council was informed that, it was top early to assess the outcome of the Fifth Session of UNCTAD, but a preliminary assessment indicated that limited progress had been made in some fields, although many basic issues still remained to be resolved. Of these, issues relating to protectionism, Economic Cooperation among Developing Countries (ECDC), Commodities and the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) were of particular relevance to food and agriculture. On protectionism, UNCTAD V had agreed on a programme of action for structural adjustment related to trade and policies and measures to deal with protectionism. Concerning Economic Cooperation among Developing Countries, UNCTAD V had urged the entire international community to provide appropriate support and assistance to programmes on ECDC. In this connexion, the Council noted that the Director General had convened a technical consultation on ECDC in food and agriculture for the last week of June 1979. 0n, commodities, UNCTAD V had urged governments which had not yet pledged to the Second Window of the Common Fund to do so before: the Fourth Session of the UN Negotiating Conference on a Common Fund, scheduled for the latter part of 1979. It had also urged governments to expedite the convening of negotiating conferences on commodities, the preparatory work on which had achieved sufficient progress under the Integrated Programme for Commodities. As for the Least Developed Countries, UNCTAD V had adopted a Comprehensive New Programme of Action, which called for differentiated and additional measures as an essential contribution to a New International Economic Order.

26. The Council noted with satisfaction that the growth of fertilizer consumption in developing market economies and especially in the MSA countries had recovered to the pre-crisis levels and stressed that maintenance of these rates was essential for attaining accelerated food production increase. It noted with concern that the prices of all three major fertilizers were rising; and moreover, that the contributions to the FAO International Fertlizer Supply Schme (IFS) had drastically declined in the last two years. It urged all donor countries substantially to increase their contributions to IFS and expand their fertilizer aid to MSAs and other developing countries with shortage of foreign exchange resources so as to reach an annual level of one million tons of nutrients called for by the Seventh Special Session of the UN General Assembly.

27. The Council noted that commitments of official external assistance for food and agriculture had increased appreciably in 1977 and were likely to have risen in 1978. Despite these gains, the flow of external assistance in the OECD narrow definition still accounted for a little more than half of the US.$ 8 300 million as mentioned in the Manila Communiqué of the World Food Council as a necessary element for achieving 4% annual growth in food production in the developing countries. The Council urged all donors to increase the level and improve the terms of their external assistance for food and agriculture and reiterated the agreed recommendation of the Second Session of the Committee of the Whole es-tablished under UN General Assembly Resolution 32/174 that the estimated annual requirement of external assistance of US$ 8 300 million, with US$ 6 500 million on concessional terms should be reached if possible by the end of 1980.

28. Considering the central role domestic investment must play in the increase of food production in developing countries, concern was expressed about the scarcity of information on the flow of such investment in agriculture. The Council looked forward to the results of FAO's analysis of domestic investment and recurrent expenditure in agriculture, data on which had been requested in a questionnaire sent to member countries. It again requested member countries to give priority to sending adequate and timely replies to the questionnaire.

29. The Council emphasized the important role that public policy played in the stimulation of food and agricultural production in developing countries. It felt that governments should attach priority to formulating and implementing agricultural price policies with a view to ensuring that food and agricultural prices were reasonable to consumers and provided fair returns to producers. Adequate attention should also be given to improvement of marketing, post-harvesting technology and prevention of food losses.

Report of the Fourth Session of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS)2

30. The Council considered the Plan of Action on World Food Security which had been adopted by the Committee and recommended to the Council for approval. The Committee had also submitted a draft resolution for the consideration of the Council.

31. The Council noted that the Committee of the Whole established under UN General Assembly Resolution 32/174 had welcomed the initiative of the Director-General in pro posing the Plan of Action and had requested that it be given careful consideration. The Council stressed that the Plan of Action envisaged a return to the original concepts adopted in the International Undertaking on World Food Security, and provided a means of implementing the pledges made by governments in 1974. It shared the Committee's view that the Plan of Action, which was of a voluntary nature, was not a substitute for a new international grains arrangement which would contain adequate and legally binding stock, price, food aid and food security provisions. The Council noted that the Plan included elements which were possibly complementary to a new international grains arrangement as envisaged in the negotiating conference which had been adjourned without concluding its work in February 1979. The Council endorsed the Committee's request to all governments concerned to search urgently for a basis for resuming and concluding these negotiations. It agreed that the Plan of Action would need to be reviewed in the event of a new international grains arrangement being concluded.

32. The Council expressed its preoccupation and concern regarding the world food security situation which was now no less precarious than before the world food crisis in the early 1970s, given the fast rise in import requirements of the developing countries, the absence of a coordinated reserve stock system, the continued vulnerability of many countries to food shortages caused by crop failures, and the serious malnutrition which continued to affect large sections of the population in many countries. International assistance was still falling short of requirements and targets.

33. The Council agreed that world food security was a basic component of a New Interna-tional Economic Order. A firm foundation for establishing long-term food security lay in increasing food production in developing countries. National food reserves, which were essential to offset temporary shortfalls in food supplies, should be conceived and operated in full conformity with national development policies, and should be linked with efforts to increase production and improve nutritional standards while providing an adequate return to farmers. It was suggested that national food security be viewed in terms of three major components: ecological security, technological security and social security.

34. The Council recognised the special problems fared by grain-exporting developing countries in view of their heavy dependence on grains as a source of foreign exchange earnings, and their limited ability to hold stocks.

35. The Council stressed the importance of regional reserves and commended the steps taken towards the establishment of such reserves in some areas vulnerable to natural and man-made disasters. It noted that the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) group of countries had decided to establish an Emergency Rice Reserve totalling 50 000 tons and that the agreement on this Reserve was expected to be initialled in July 1979. The Council also welcomed the initiative of the Ministerial Council of the Permanent Inter-State Committee for Drought Control in the Sahelian Zone (CILSS) in considering a regional food reserve for the Sahel. The delegate of Malta reiterated his government's offer of facilities in Malta for a regional food reserve for neighbouring Mediterranean countries. The hope was expressed that positive steps would be taken to implement these proposals.

36. One member suggested consideration of the question of developing a suitable machinery for servicing the Food Aid Convention. It suggested that FAO would be the appropriate agency for servicing this Convention, since it was already associated with . WFP, operated the Food Security Assistance Scheme, and was also in charge of the Early Warning System.

37. Several delegations, while endorsing the basic intent of the Plan and emphasizing the positive and constructive positions of their governments regarding international action on world food security, were of the view that the establishment of national stock policies and quantitative stock targets should be within the ambit of a legally binding international grains arrangements with clearly defined rights and obligations and with an agreed price mechanism for the accumulation and release of stocks. They referred to the resolution of UNCTAD V which, inter alia, called on all participating countries to intensify the process of consultation and preparations with a view to the earliest possible resumption of the negotiations for the speedy conclusion of an International Wheat Agreement. In view of this and the forthcoming discussions in the International Wheat Council later in June 1979, they felt that the Plan of Action and the draft resolution should be submitted to the Twentieth Session of the FAO Conference for approval. The delegation of Canada, while agreeing in principle with the spirit and intention of the Plan of Action, wished to reserve expressing a final position on the Plan until the FAO Conference.

38. The Council stressed the vital contribution to food security made by the Global Information and Early Warning System on Food and Agriculture and endorsed the recommendations in paragraph 57 of the Committee's Report. It urged all governments which were not already doing so to participate fully in the operations of the System.

39. With regard to the Committee's future programme of work, the Council endorsed the need for a full-scale review of the implications for world food security of longer-term trends in world food production, consumption and trade. In this review, particular attention should be given to the causes of the sharp rise in grain imports of the developing countries. The Council also endorsed the Committee's decision to pay special attention to the role of non-cereal foods in world food security.

40. The Council agreed to adopt the Plan of Action as formulated by the Fourth Session of the Committee on World Food Security. The Council requested the Director-General to make the Plan of Action available to the Fifth Session of the World Food Council for consideration.

41. The Council adopted the following resolution:

Resolution 1/75



Reaffirming the common responsibility of the entire international community to assure the availability at all times of adequate world supplies of basic foodstuffs in accordance with the objectives of the international Undertaking on World Food Security3.

Expressing deep regret that the adjournment of the United Nations Negotiating Conference on a new international grains arrangement will further delay implementation of the policies and guidelines of the Undertaking,

Expressing the hope that the Negotiating Conference will be reconvened as quickly as possible,

Recognizing that, in the absence of a coordinated system of national or regional food stocks, the world is still not adequately protected against acute food shortages in the event of widespread crop failures or other disasters and that additional assistance is needed to meet the growing import needs and emergency requirements of developing countries as well as to strengthen their food security programmes,

Noting with satisfaction that the Committee of the Whole established under UN General Assembly Resolution 32/174 at its session in March 1979, welcomed the initiative of the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in proposing a Five-Point Plan of Action and requested the Committee on World Food Security, at its next session, and other appropriate bodies, to give it careful consideration,

Having considered the recommendations of the Committee on, World Food Security on the Director-General' s Plan of Action for national and international action to strengthen world food security regarding (i) the adoption of foodgrain stock policies, (ii) criteria for the management and release of national stocks held in pursuance of the Undertaking, (iii) special measures to assist low-income food deficit countries to meet current import requirements and emergency needs, (iv) special arrangements for food security assistance, and (v) collective self-reliance of developing countries,

1. Approves the FAO Plan of Action on World Food Security as attached in the Annex to this Resolution.

2. Recommends that all Member Nations and international organizations concerned take immediate steps to put the Plan of Action into operation as a means of strengthening world food security.

3. Stresses that the Plan of Action is not a substitute for a new international grains arrangement with stock, price and food aid provisions and with special provisions for developing countries, which is indispensable for a durable and effective world food security system, and urges the participating countries in the United Nations Negotiating Conference on a new international grains arrangement to resolve the outstanding questions impeding the resumption of negotiations and to conclude a new international grains arrangement as quickly as possible.

4. Requests the Director-General in consultation with Member Nations and organizations concerned:

(a) to report to the Twentieth Session of the FAO Conference and future sessions of the Committee on World Food Security and the FAO Council on the progress made toward implementing the Plan of Action; and

(b) to submit, in the light of progress achieved in implementing the Plan of Action and other related developments, proposals for any further measures required to achieve the objectives of world food security.


The following Plan of Action consists of a series of measures which are necessary to implement ' the International Undertaking on World Food Security. While action is being taken in accordance with this Plan, all governments should search urgently for a basis for resuming and concluding negotiations on a new international grains arrangement with adequate stock, price and food aid provisions, and with special provisions for developing countries, which is essential for an effective world food security system. In the event of a new grains arrangement being concluded, this Plan of Action should be reviewed.

I. Adoption of Foodgrain Stock Policies

(i) All governments which have subscribed to the International Undertaking on World Food Security should, in conformity with their institutional and constitutional requirements, adopt and implement national cereal stock policies and targets or objectives in accordance with the Undertaking and in particular with paragraph 6 of the Undertaking which recognized that the special difficulties of developing countries in maintaining stocks at desirable levels place an added responsibility for ensuring world food security on the rest of the international community.

(ii) Governments, particularly of developed countries, should take full advantage of the relatively ample world supply situation for cereals in order to build up stocks in accordance with their national stock objectives by the end of 1979, as recommended by the Committee on World Food Security at its Third Session.

(iii) Governments 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.

(iv) Measures taken in accordance with the Undertaking should be reviewed by the Conference which may decide on any further action that may be required.

II.Criteria for Management and Release of National Stocks Held in Pursuance of the Undertaking

Governments should apply the following general criteria to guide national decisions on the release of stocks held to safeguard food security.

(i) National stocks held in pursuance of the Undertaking should be operated in such a way as to contribute to the stability of markets and supplies, taking into account the level of prices. These stocks should be released 4 in the event of crop failure 5, natural or man-made disasters or high price situations in order to:

(a) maintain a regular flow of food supplies both in domestic and in international markets at prices fair to consumers and remunerative to producers;

(b) avoid the emergence of acute food shortages;

(c) enable developing countries to satisfy their import requirements on reasonable terms and without adversely affecting their economic development.

(ii) In exceptional circumstances, the Director-General, drawing on the Global Information and Early Warning System, may alert governments to the need for additional supplies, including possible releases of stocks to meet the urgent consumption requirements of importing countries, particularly developing countries.

(iii) A special session of the Committee may be convened by the Director-General in accordance with Rule XXXIII (4), to enable governments to consider any special action required to meet an acute and large-scale food shortage.

III. Special Measures to Assist Low-Income Food Deficit Countries to Meet Current Import Requirements and Emergency Needs

(i) All donor countries should do their utmost to increase their food aid commitments to the levels envisaged in the draft Food Aid Convention now before the UN Conference to negotiate an international arrangement to replace the International Wheat Agreement 1971, as extended, and should explore ways to bring these levels into effect as of 1 July 1979. New donors should be enabled and encouraged to supplement this effort and contribute additional quantities through the. Food Aid Convention.

(ii) Bearing in mind that only a small share of cereal imports of developing countries are met through food aid, and many of them face a growing food gap and balance of payments difficulties, the annual food aid target of at least 10 million tons of cereals should be re-evaluated by the Committee on Food Aid Policies and Programmes, taking into account the FAO Secretariat estimate that food aid needs would be in the order of 15-16 million tons by 1985.

(iii) The IMF should be invited to consider within the context of its Financing Facilities the feasibility of providing additional balance of payments support for meeting the rise in food import bills of low income food deficit countries, particularly in the event of domestic food shortages and rising import prices.

(iv) All countries in a position to do so should contribute to the International Emergency Food Reserve (IEFR) in order to achieve the minimum annual target of 500 000 tons in 1979.

(v) All food aid donors should establish food aid reserves or take other measures designed to maintain continuity of food aid in times of short supplies and high prices, and to meet international emergency requirements as envisaged in paragraph 6 of the Undertaking.

(vi) In providing food and other assistance, including financing on highly concessional terms to developing countries, developed countries and international organizations concerned should take due account of the interests of food-exporting developing countries and should ensure that such assistance includes, whenever possible, purchases of food from such countries.

IV. Special Arrangements for Food Security Assistance

(i) In order to enable developing countries to participate effectively in the Undertaking:

(a) Governments of developing countries should give high priority within the context of their development policies, to the formulation and implementation of national food security programmes;

(b) 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 to implement their national food security programmes;

(c) All governments of developed countries in a position to do so should commit funds to the Food Security Assistance Scheme for specific projects executed by FAO, and/or for bilateral programmes aimed at the same basic objectives;

(d) Governments of developed countries and other potential contributing countries and international organizations, particularly the WFP, should strengthen their food aid pro-grammes in order to help developing countries in implementing their plans and projects to build up national food reserves.

(ii) The Committee on World Food Security should:

(a) keep under review the activities of the FAO Food Security Assistance Scheme, which should be used to facilitate coordination of multilateral and bilateral aid to food security;

(b) review action taken to meet requests from developing countries for assistance for establishment and maintenance of national food reserves;

(c) identify gaps in the assistance required for food security programmes of developing countries, and suggest ways of meeting these needs.

(iii) In the light of developments, the Committee on World Food Security at its Fifth Session should examine the need to establish a sub-committee on security assistance, with a view to carrying out more effectively the above functions.

(iv) Full advantage should be taken of the possibilities of convening, if necessary with the assistance of FAO, meetings at the country level of interested donors with a view to implementing food security projects for which external financing and technical assistance is required by a particular developing country.

V. Collective Self-Reliance of Developing Countries

(i) The international community should recognize the urgent need for fostering the collective self-reliance of developing countries in the vital sector of food security;

(ii) To this end, developing countries should intensify their efforts to establish cooperative arrangements, including the setting up of regional reserves, to strengthen their food security and collective capacity to meet emergency food requirements.

(iii) In particular, the governments concerned should consider joint action on reserve stocks held nationally or regionally; mutual assistance in time of crop shortfalls; special trading arrangements among developing food-importing and exporting countries; joint investment ventures in food production, as well as the exchange of technology;

(iv) Concerned international financial and technical organizations and the developed and other potential contributor countries should extend all necessary support to promote such efforts by developing countries to strengthen their collective self-reliance.

1 CL 75/2; CL 75/2-Sup.l; CL 75/PV/2; CL 75/PV/3; CL 75/PV/17.

2CL75/10; CL 75/PV/3; CL 75/PV/4; CL 75/PV/17

3 Council Resolution 1/64 and Conference Resolution 3/73.

4Specific criteria for management and release of stocks may differ from country to country, depending on already established rules or guidelines.

5An abnormally large decline in the national cereal harvest caused by serious drought, heavy rains, severe floods, pests, plant diseases or other natural hazards, which leads to a large-scale disruption of the flow of supplies to markets.

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