8. The Council reviewed the state of food and agriculture on the basis of the Director- General’s report, The Stare of Food and Agriculture, 1980, and endorsed his assessment of the grave situation and outlook. It reiterated his concern that the food Situation had become alarming, particularly in Africa , and that the world faced a potential food crisis next year.
9. It noted that the world food and agricultural situation had further deteriorated since the Twentieth Session of the FAO Conference in 1979 had drawn attention to a number of particularly unsatisfactory features of the immediate outlook. World food production had barely increased in 1980 following the poor harvests of 1979, so that during these two years the world’s food production had increased by less than 1 percent, while the population had grown by four times as much.
10. Poor crops of food grain in the USSR and coarse grains in the USA, along with declines in cereal production in Australia and Argentina, had worsened the current situation, which had been further aggravated by the drought in Sub-Saharan Africa. But for the welcome increase in rice production in Asia and the record harvest of wheat in the USA and in the countries of the EEC, the decline in world cereal production would have reached crisis proportions.
11. In this situation of imbalance, the import demand and prices of cereals had been sharply increasing, and were still on an upward course. Freight rates had also started moving up and were now two and a half times what they were five years back. With production of cereals falling below the consumption levels, the carry-over stocks of cereals were being drawn down for the second consecutive year. the Council noted with alarm that such stocks of cereals would come down by the end of the 1980-81 cop seasons to only an estimated 14 percent of annual consumption, just 1 percent point higher than during the crisis year of 1973-74. The world would thus have an insufficient cushion against any major crop shortfalls in 1981-82. The Council noted with great concern that the level of cereal production in 1981 will be decisive. Only if farmers are able to plant to the maximum, with the necessary financing for the provision and distribution of essential agricultural nuts and with an appropriate agricultural price policy, if bottlenecks in freight and transport can be Overcome and weather conditions are favourable, so that good drops can be obtained, will a world food crisis of grave proportions be avoided in 1901-82.
12. The Council noted that food production in some developing regions had increased at higher rates than in 1979, notably in the developing market economies in Asia and in Latin America but the situation in Africa gave rise to much concern. Twenty-six countries in Africa were facing reduced harvests. The gravity of the situation in this region was indicated by the fact that the average African had access to 10 percent less food than a decade ago.
13. This already serious problem was compounded by the number and scope of natural and man-made disasters. There were now about 9 million refugees in the world. In Somalia alone, about 1.5 million refugees had been added to a population of only about 4 million. The Council also expressed its concern at the grave problem in Southeast Asia in and around Kampuchea and Viet Nam , and on the borders of Afghanistan .
14. The cereal import needs of the Most Seriously Affected countries were estimated to have increased by nearly 19 percent to 21 million tons in 179/SO as compared to the previous year. Food aid was not matching these increased needs and in 18O-81 was hardly expected to meet the minimum target of 10 million tons in cereals. The Council emphasized the need for larger resource for emergency assistance as well as more Secure and predictable arrangements for mobilizing them. The Council urged the international community to strengthen the arrangements for food aid programmes by achieving a minimum annual target of 500 000 tons for the International Emergency Food Reserve (IEFR), and by ensuring that food aid commitments attained a minimum level of 10 million tons. The Council stated that efforts should be made to place the IFER on a more assured and predictable basis, of which a legally binding convention could be one of the means to be considered by the Committee on Food Security at its next Session. It was noted with concern that the pledging target for the neat biennium of $ I billion for WFP, had not yet been achievd and both current and prospective donor countries were urged to make additional pledges. The Council also noted with satisfaction that the IMF had been giving consideration to the proposal to establish a Facility to finance large and exceptional rises in food import bills of low-income, food deficit countries.
15. In this situation of increasing insecurity on the food front, the Council fully endorsed the signal of global alert the Director-General had sounded It appreciated the efforts made by the Director-General to mobilize increasing amounts of resources including larger contributions to the IEFR by existing and new donors, to meet the increasing scale and frequency of food emergencies, especially in Africa. The need for faster progress on the implementation of the 5-Point Plan for world food security was emphasized. In this connection, the Council welcomed the announcement that the Congress of the United States of America had approved legislation establishing a government-held food security reserve of up to 4 million tons of wheat designed to support that country’s commitments under the Food Aid Convention. The legislation provides for the release of up to 300 thousand tons of this reserve in any one year for emergency food assistance to developing countries in need.
16. The Council supported the initiative the Director-General had taken over the last year in view of the increasingly critical food situation and it requested that he should keep the food situation under constant review and close observation, and call a special Consultation should a further deterioration warrant it.
17. Attention was also drawn to the depredations caused by various pests and diseases. FAO’s efforts to control them, particularly African Swine Fever and Trypanosomiasis were commended as were the cooperative measures supported by FAO for the control of outbreaks of the African Migratory Locust end Desert Locust. The cooperation between affected countries and the controlling organizations was welcomed and it was felt there was much scope for technical cooperation between developing countries in combating their food problems.
18. The Council noted the difficulties faced by developing countries in their efforts to expand food production. They were being frustrated by rising costs of agricultural inputs, particularly of fertilizers, the prices of which had risen sharply this year. Recalling the decision as adopted by the 7th Special Session of the UN General Assembly to provide fertilizer aid of 1 million tons of plant nutrients to the Most Seriously Affected countries, the Council urged regular implementation of this recommendation as well as adequate contributions to the International Fertilizer Scheme.
19. The Council recognized the special problems and difficulties faced by the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), especially in Africa , in thobilizing resources for a major push in increasing food and agricultural production. It emphasized the importance of the UN Conference on Least Developed Countries to be held in 1981. The Council supported the active cooperation of FAO with UNCTAD in the preparatory work for this Conference, it requested the Director-General to provide special assistance to the LDCs in drawing up an immediate programme of financial and technical assistance to the food and agriculture of these countries, besides a strategy for the 1980s.
20. The Council appreciated the efforts made by the Director-General in assisting African countries, in close cooperation with OAU and ECA, in the preparation and implementation of the Lagos Plan of Action on Food and Agriculture. It endorsed the Director–General’s proposal to accord higher priority to Africa in FAO’s Progranime of Work and Budget for the 1982-83 biennium. The Council recalled the lead role which FAO should play in respect of agricultural and rural development.
21. With the approaching close of the Second UN Development Decade, the Council reiterated its concern at the long-standing problems that persisted in world food and agriculture. Food production in developing countries for DD2 as a whole had increased by about 3.2 percent, as against the 4 percent annual target for food and agricultural production. Because of rapid population growth in some regions global per caput production had increased by only half of 1 percent per annum during the Decade. Food production per caput in many developing countries, especially MSAs and LDCs had decreased during the Decade. During this times the dependence of developing countries on food imports had greatly increased, their food import bills had increased manifold and the incidence of hunger and malnutrition showed no signs of declining. The Council noted with concern the difficulties that were being faced towards achieving a New International Economic Orders The Council welcomed the increased emphasis on agriculture in the New Development Strategy for the Third Development Decade, in the preparation of which FAO had fully participated. It expressed satisfaction that recommendations of FAO Conferences and those of WCARD together with the findings of FAO’s provisional long-term study “Agriculture: Toward 2000", had thăde substantial. contributions to the agricultural section of the new International Development Strategy (IDS).
22. Trade issues continued to be matters of grave concern. In 1979 the value of agricultural exports of developing countries increased at a rate well below that of the 1970s and crop and livestock products increased in volume by only 2 percent. The share of developing countries in world agricultural trade declined in 1979 for the second year in succession to less than 30 percent. The deterioration in the prices of some important agricultural commodities in the latter part of 1980, together with increased costs of essential imports, including agricultural inputs and energy, had further added to the balance of payments difficulties faced by many developing countries. The prices of some commodities are barely above their levels of five years ago.
23. The near establishment of the Common Fund was welcomed by Council as providing a means for stimulating international agreements for individual countries as well as f or improving the productivity and competitiveness for agricultural exports included in its provisions. It recommended that FAO should develop cooperative arrangements between its Intergovernmental Groups on commodities and the Second Account of the Fund with a view to helping developing countries in these objectives. Several members expressed again their concern at the increased tendency on the part of the developed countries towards trade protectionism which was hampering the developing countries’ efforts to achieve economic growth and development through trade.
24. The Council regretted that the ability of developing countries to mobilize their capacity to produce food was further hampered by the decline of 8 percent in development assistance in 1979 in real terms. Official external assistance had thus fallen to $ 6,7 billion in 1975 prices, and further behind the $ 8.3 billion agreed by the international community as the estimated annual requirement for the food sector alone.
25. The Council drew attention to the need for a major effort to be made to inform and persuade public opinion of developed countries, developing donor countries and other potential donor countries of the mutual benefits of international cooperation and assistance. This could help in the establishment of an assured, continuing flow of development assistance.
26. It was recognized that developing countries themselves should mobilize public opinion and governmental action, and their resources, and develop the appropriate policy framework to promote food production. Several members spoke of their experiences in trying to increase domestic food supplies and underscored the importance of maintaining remunerative prices for producers, establishing efficient markets, providing agricultural inputs and adequate extension services and in some cases, crop insurance schemes to cover input costs, It was recalled that the Nineteenth Session of the TAO Conference had called for adequate resources to support FAO's Seed Development and Improvement Programme and the Action Programme on the Prevention of Food Losses and these resolutions should be fully implemented. It was also noted that water resources could be harnessed through irrigation to both increase and improve the reliability of food crop production.. However, all this required a higher priority to agriculture and a shift of investment resources towards the agriculture sector, a shift which some food deficit countries had not yet undertaken.
27. The Council observed with concern the stagnation in the catch of fish which has persisted for a decade, The fishing industry was being affected by rising costs, particularly of energy. FAO’s programmes to assist developing coastal States to manage and utilize their newly acquired fishery resources were strongly suppported in the context of changes in the regime of the seas brought about by the widespread adoption of exclusive economic zones by coastal States.
28. Forestry production and trade also was being affected by economic forces. The onset of recession in the economies of several developed contries had Led to a slackening in demand for some forest products while some major exporting countries, to promote their own industrialization, had imposed restrictions on trade on some forest products with the consequent upward push on their prices.
29. Noting the food balance sheets that are periodically compiled by FAO from data obtained from a comprehensive range of countries, the Council urged that increasing use be made of them in reviewing the world’s food and nutrition situation.
30. The Council noted the analysis of the deteriorating outlook for world economic development which was superimposed on the worsening food situation. Several major economies were experiencing recessionary conditions, and many low income countries were facing stagnation. It noted with particular concern that 39 of these countries, with per caput GDP of less than $ 300 in 1977, did not achieve any real increase in GDP at all in 1979 and faced equally grim prospects for 1980 and 1981. The deficits in the balance of payments of the non-oil export- ing developing countries were expected to almost double in 1980 to about $ 70 billion while the external debts of developing countries as a whole had increased to such levels that their servicing costs were absorbing pp to 20 percent of these countries’ export earnings. Particular attention therefore, was focussed on the need for expanded financial assistance, particularly on such concessionary terms a did not add to the existing burden of debt and on the need to improve the structure of international trade as part of a New International Economic Order,
31. The Council recalled the Declaration of the Principles and Programme of Action of WCARRD and urged the Governments and the international community to implement them. It reiterated strongly the consensus that existed on most of the measures and action programmes for food, agricultural and rural development and was reflected in the relevant sections of the new lDS and it urged the international community to implement them without delay.
32. The Council considered and endorsed the Report of the Fifth Session of the Committee on World Food Security. It also considered the Director-General’s progress report on action taken in pursuance of Conference Resolution 3/79 on World Food Security.
33. The Council expressed its grave concern at the serious deterioration in the world food security situation, which was reflected by the fall in world cereals output, the decline in carryover stocks, rising international prices of basic foods and essential inputs, and the increasing dependence on food imports of many low-income countries. It was of crucial importance for the food security of developing countries that they increase their own food production. Governments needed o give high priority to food production in their development plans and programmes, but since many developing countries had inadequate resources to achieve their full agricultural potential, their efforts had to be supported by the nternational community through increased development assistance. A number of members supported the formulation of food sector strategies by developing countries.
34. The Council agreed chat an adequate and assured supply of strategic agricultural inputs was essential for achieving a substantial growth in food production and for contributing to world food security. It expressed concern at the increase in the price of essential agricultural inputs, which affected their use by producers, especially in developing countries.
35. The Council recognized that world food security was affected by protectionist policies, some of which constituted a severe constraint to the expansion of export earnings especially of developing countries, thus impairing their capacity not only to import food but also to increase agricultural production. Several members urged that industrialized countries should remove trade barriers on imports from developing countries. The Council also recognized the actions taken by some industrialized countries to improve market access for the agricultural products of developing coufltries, as well a to provide additional food aid and other assistance.
36. In view of the crucial dependence of the world on foodcrop production in 1981, members from several exporting countries emphasized that they were making all efforts, including double–cropping, to increase cereals production for export, and noted the need to maintain sufficient price incentives to farmers.
37. The Council agreed on the need to strengthen the food security infrastructure of developing countries and urged governments to make additional voluntary contributions and/or to coordinate their bilateral assistance where appropriate, so as to ensure that the resources available through the Scheme were sufficient to respond to the increasing requirements for assistance, as envisaged in Conferenc Resolution 3/79
38. Several members referred to the logistic problems which could arise owing to the concentration of reserve stocks in a few exporting countries and proposed that these stocks should be decentralized by placing part of them in strategic locations in developing regions where they would be readily available in food emergencies. Others pointed out that the transportation, handling and port facilities of exporting countries had so far proved sufficient to meet the rising needs of export trade, and efforts were under way to further strengthen these facilities. It was also stressed that there was also a need for improving such facilities in importing countries as envisaged under the FAO Food Security Assistance Scheme and suggested that relevant information should be included in future secretariat reports. The Council recognized that these matters had been discussed in the report of the Ad Hoc Working Party on Preparedness for Acute and Large-Scale Food Shortages which would be considered by the Committee on World Food Security at its Sixth Session.
39. The Council agreed that an internationally coordinated system of nationally–held grain reserves would be an important element in strengthening world food security. In this connection, many members expressed disappointment that a new Wheat Trade Convention including stockholding provisions had still not been negotiated, Noting that the International Wheat Council (IWC) was the appropriate forum to prepare a draft new Wheat Trade Convention for negotiation under the auspices of the UN Conference to Negotiate an International Arrangement to Replace the International Wheat Agreement 1971, as Extended, the Council expressed the hope that a new Wheat Trade Convention would be concluded as soon as possible, taking account of the interest of developing countries, especially low-income countries. In this respect, attention was drawn to the recommendations of the Committee on World Food Security at its Second and Third Sessions, as endorsed by the Council. The link between food security and market stability was also stressed. In the view of some members, a new Wheat Trade Convention of a consultative nature would not be an effective instrument to meet the needs of world food security. The Council requested the Committee on World Food Security at its Sixth Session to invite the IWC to report on progress towards establishing a new Wheat Trade Convention and to consider any futher action required to safeguard world food security, especially of developing countries, as specified in the Flap of Action on World Food Security and in pursuance of Conference Resolution 3/79. Some members stressed the need to avoid prejudging the negotiations for a new Wheat Trade Convention.
40. The Council stressed the importance of continuing the Food Aid Convention beyond its present date of expiry of 30 June 1981 and noted that its extension would be contingent upon the extension or re-negotiation of the Wheat Trade Convention. It urged participating countries to make all efforts, together with new contributors, to increase the level of food aid to developing countries, guaranteed under the Food Aid Convention, from 7.6 million tons to at least 10 million tons of cereals per year, and to this end called on governments not yet members of the Food Aid Convention, but in a position t do so, to accede to it.
41. The Council welcomed the decision of the Committee on World Food Security to examine the adequacy of arrangements on the state of preparedness to cope with acute and large- scale food shortages. Noting that the Ad Hoc Working Party on Preparedness for Acute and Large-Scale Food Shortages set up by the Committee on World Food Security had recently had a productive meeting, the Council requested the Committee at its Sixth Session to make specific proposals on ways of improving preparedness both at the national and international levels, taking into account the findings of the Ad Hoc Working Party.
42. The Council welcomed the attention being given by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to the feasibility of providing additional balance of payments support for meeting the rise in food import bills of low-income food deficit countries, which the FAO Conference had invited the IMF to consider. Several members stressed that, to be effective, such a financing facility should be made available on especially favourable conditions which should correspond to the requirements of the countries concerned, while others noted that exceptionally high food import bills created problems also for developing countries not classified as “low-income” countries.
43. The Council stressed the importance of mobilizing adequate resources for meeting food emergencies. It commended the personal efforts of the Director-General to encourage new donors to contribute to the International Emergency Food Reserve (IEFR) and welcomed the fact that eight countries had recently pledged or would shortly pledge additional contributions. Many members supported the Director-General’s proposal that the IEFR be developed into a legally binding convention, as one important element of a viable world food security system. This, in their view, would ensure predictability, continuity and guaranteed availability of resources to meet food emergencies and avoid the need to divert World Food Programme resources from development projects. Other members considered that other ways should be examined to meet these objectives 3. The Council welcomed the decision of the Committee on Food Aid Policies and Programmes to consider the Director-General’s proposal further at its Eleventh Session along with other proposals and suggestions, while taking fully into account all views expressed during the CFA discussion at its Tenth Session.
44. The Council supported the initiatives taken by governments and regional and international bodies to strengthen collective self-reliance at regional and sub-regional levels. It noted the establishment of the ASEAN Food Security Reserve, a proposal by CILSS for setting up a regional reserve in the Sahelian zone of Africa, and recommendations by the Southern Heads of State, the Sixth Conference of Heads of State of the Non-Aligned States, and the FAO Regional Conferences. The Council welcomed the assistance being provided by FAO to support these initiatives. The Council also took note with interest of the offer of Malta to provide storage facilities for a regional food reserve for Mediterranean countries, and was informed that the FAO secretariat would be ready to assist the countries concerned.
45. The Council requested the Committee on World Food Security to pay special attention to the possibilities of increasing collective self-reliance through the setting up of regional food security schemes, bearing in mind the action taken by various regional groupings and the recommendations on this subject of the FAO Regional Conferences.
46. The Council noted with appreciation that food security was given a prominent place in the International Development Strategy, and some members expressed the hope that food security would also constitute a major item in the global negotiations being considered by the General Assembly of the United Nations.
1 CL 78/2; CL 78/2-Corr.1; CL 78/2-Sup.1, CL 78/PV/2; CL 78/PV/3; CL 78/PV/4; CL 78/PV/15;
2 CL 78/10;CL 78/1O-Corr.1 English only; CL 7S/25, CL 78/25 - Sup. 1; CL 78/PV/5; CL 78/PV/6; CL78/PV/15.
3 See also paragraphs 71 and 80 below.