12. The Council reviewed the world and regional food and agriculture situation on the basis of the Director-General's report, the state of the Food and Agriculture 1984, and its supplement. The Council welcomed and generally endorsed the analysis and assessment of the situation.
13. The Council took note of some improvements in the world economic situation, especially the economic recovery and its uneven pace in industrialized countries. It expressed concern at the slow and erratic pace of growth in developing countries. Economic developments because of their modest positive effect on export earnings of some developing countries compensated for earlier losses only to a very small extent. Trade restrictions including protectionism and lack of financial resources for investment were identified as major constraints to the economic recovery of developing countries. The Council reiterated the need for a better and fairer structure of economic relations between developed and developing countries. Many members stressed that the economic recovery of developed countries to a certain exent was being achieved at the expense of the developing countries' interest, and this was seen among other factors in the high level of foreign debt which had turned them into net exporters of capital to creditor industrialized countries.
14. The Council noted with concern the differences among countries and regions, as well as between developing and developed countries, with regard to economic growth, food production and agricultural trade. The Council drew attention to the continuing paradox of scarcity amid plenty, the desperate plight and misery of millions of people, and the urgency of moving beyond discussion and analysis to practical proposals for action and cooperation. It especially noted the food emergency in many areas of Africa. (Specific attention to the situation in Africa is dealt with under paragraphs 32 to 47 below.)
15. The Council underlined that the net outflow of capital from developing countries, which reached US$ 11 000 million in 1983, took place at the very moment when these countries were in need of more investment resources in order to benefit from the world economic recovery. The servicing of the huge debts of developing countries (estimated at US$ 810 000 million at the end of 1983), the low export prices of many agricultural products, and the slackening of commercial and official lending to developing countries, were putting heavy strains on their balance of payments. These problems were compounded by high interest rates and the unusual strength of the dollar. The drastic economic adjustments which a number of developing countries had had to make affected not only access of low-income groups to food but also the availability of inputs and investment capital for improvements in agriculture.
16. Considering the difficult and uncertain economic and financial environment facing developing countries, the Council expressed continuing concern over both the decline in the volume of development assistance for agriculture and the hardening of its terms in 1983 relative to 1982. It was agreed that the decrease in financing for development was one of the factors which contributed to a deterioration in the existing imbalance between North and South, which might well affect peace and international security. It noted with concern that the decline in multilateral commitments to agriculture was as high as 20 percent in 1983. The Council expressed concern over the reduction and uncertainty of resources available from multilateral financing agencies, particularly IDA (International Development Association) and IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development). It regretted that the seventh replenishment of IDA had reached only US$ 9 000 million against the US$ 12 000 million originally planned and that IFAD was facing serious difficulties over its second replenishment. These replenishments should be brought up to adequate levels immediately with the cooperation of all concerned if their planned programmes of assistance to developing countries were to be sustained even in 1985. The Council urged that increased and more dependable support be provided to the multilateral agencies which were placing priority on concessional financing to assist low-income countries in increasing food production.
17. The Council noted that total world agricultural production had increased by about 5 percent between 1983 and 1984; in part, this reflected large increases in production in North America and Western Europe. While progress in food production was noted in some developing countries, the Council expressed grave concern over the continuing critical situation confronting much of Africa.
18. The Council, recalling Resolutions 2/79, 2/83 and 3/83 of the FAO Conference and 159 (VI) of UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development) agreed on the importance of free and growing export trade and called upon all countries especially developed ones to work for liberalization of trade and to refrain from further protectionist measures especially against export products from developing countries.
19. The Council was of the view that the varying degrees of recovery of economic demand, combined with fluctuating supply patterns and the increasing emergence of substitutes, were affecting commodity prices and creating uncertainties in countries exporting and importing food and agricultural products. The extremely low world sugar price was noted with concern. Some members regretted that during the last session of the Working Party on Elements of an International Agreement on Bananas no progress was made because of the refusal by the main importing country of this commodity to hold discussions. This ocurred despite the fact that exporting producing countries, in particular members of UPEB (Union of Banana Exporting Countries), had expressed the conviction that this agreement would become a necessary instrument to achieve a balance in world banana trade so as to make it remunerative to producers and fair to consumers. Another member reiterated that it could not accept a commodity agreement that failed to balance the interests of importers and exporters, and which transferred resources from consumers to producers. In view of these concerns, the Council urged that the Organization continue to study measures which at international levels could help stabilize commodity prices.
20. The Council expressed appreciation for the attention given in the document to a description and analysis of the food situation since the world food crisis of the early 1970s. It noted that, while at the global level overall food supplies had improved since that time, at the regional and country levels there was much variability.- Many low-income developing countries had become increasingly dependent on imported foods, and the current fragility of their economic situations rendered their food supplies increasingly uncertain.
21. The Council welcomed the measures that had been taken at international levels in the past decade to improve access to food, such as the enlarged Food Aid Convention at 7.6 million tons of cereals and the establishment of the International Emergency Food Reserve. The establishment of the IMF's (International Monetary Fund) food financing facility was also welcomed. The Council noted with regret that, since the inception of the food financing facility some three and a half years ago, the facility had been utilized by only five developing countries to an amount of SDR 485 million and that its wider use had been inhibited by relatively low cereal prices in recent years and the fact that it was part of IMF's compensatory facility for export earnings. It was hoped that the projected review of the facility in 1985 would provide the opportunity for its improvement. Some members expressed the wish that in the course of this review provision be made for the expansion of this facility to cover imports of all food commodities and agricultural inputs. It was regretted that the IMF had granted so easily a large loan to South Africa enabling that country to strengthen its military potential and to multiply its aggresive attitude against the Front Line States, thus creating a major obstacle to the achievement of their food production targets. The Council regretted the inability to conclude an international grains agreement with economic provisions to stabilize grain markets. The Council reaffirmed its support for the broadened concept of world food security.
22. The Council stressed that the attainment of food self-reliance was the primary responsibility of developing countries themselves, but that it was incumbent on all countries to help alleviate external constraints such as protectionist measures, heavy debt burden and unfavorable terms of trade, which thwarted the efforts of developing countries to achieve this objective, as had been fully recognized in declarations made at recent FAO Regional Conferences in Harare and Buenos Aires. National measures to achieve self-reliance included the establishment of buffer stocks and food marketing infrastructure to improve the local distribution of food. Above all, stress was laid on the need for stronger fanner incentives and enhanced supplies of inputs to promote domestic food production.
23. The importance of increasing agricultural trade levels among developing countries was underlined; in this regard, the Council was reminded of the existence of the recommendations of paragraph 77 of the Bucharest Global Meeting on economic cooperation among developing countries in the food and agriculture sector.
24. At the technical level, irrigation development combined with scientific water management were cited as a major measure by which countries could render agricultural production less subject to variations in the weather. The Council agreed that more emphasis needed to be placed on the development of integrated plant nutrient systems and improvement of biomass utilization and conversion in the priorities of FAO.
25. A number of needs and possibilities for more cooperation among neighbouring countries were discussed. Among others, mention was made of insect and disease control; land, water and fisheries resource management; marketing and input-supply; research and training networks; compatible price policies and trade arrangements; and policies related to migration and settlement of rural people. For these and other needs, cooperation with other developing countries which had successful experience and complementary support to offer, was seen as for major importance for the future. It was urged that donor nations and agencies should give every possible consideration to funding of such TCDC (Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries) and ECDC (Economic Cooperation among Developing Countries) endeavours.
26. The Council reconfirmed its view that attention to problems of forest and fisheries resource use and conservation should continue to be a major concern for FAO and Member Nations, not only as sources of food and other basic needs, but also of employment and income for many low-income, landless people.
27. The Council welcomed the attention given to the problem of urbanization. It agreed that trends in many countries for people to migrate to towns and cities, and for urban population concentrations to expand at unprecedented rates, would carry important and enduring implications for food production, marketing and distribution systems, as well as for land and water availability and for rural development strategies. Effects of urbanization on nutrition, food tastes and demands for imported commodities were noted. It was observed that many of the rural-urban migrants were young adults. Their migration to the cities created labour shortages in agricultural production areas and lack of support for dependents left behind therein. The Council considered that developing countries alone were not responsible for the causes and effects of the population explosion and the inconvenient urbanization process because the latter was in part due to the prevailing international economic order. Similarly, it drew attention to the need for studying the evolution of these phenomena to prevent their negative effects upon development in agriculture and food production especially.
28. In this regard, the relationship between urbanization in the developing world and the undesirable consequences of inappropriate technologies was highlighted, to the effect that this process marginalized the traditional agricultural sector, displaced people from the agricultural labour force and forced changes in production methods.
29. Particular attention was called to the need to increase productivity of farm people in order to produce enough food for rapidly growing urban populations, provide rural young people with education and skills suited to off-farm occupational needs and improve the economic, social and living conditions of small towns and rural areas to make them more attractive places in which to live and work in order to reduce pressures on the cities. The Council emphasized also needs in developed as well as in developing countries for conservation, reforestation, pollution control and other measures to prevent and overcome damage to natural resources associated with urbanization and industrialization processes. The Council noted with appproval the actions reported by member countries to deal with problems of urbanization, such as the creation of better living conditions, more employment outside the cities, and legislation to prevent unnecessary loss of farmland and forests. A possible remedy to the problem of urbanization was the creation of satellite towns on the periphery of urban areas.
30. The Council emphasized that the diverse and ever-changing circumstances of Member Nations in the mid-1980s required that analyses of the state of food and agriculture examine the regional situation and outlook in more detail. The Council was informed that future situation and outlook assessments would endeavour to address such aspects in a more comprehensive manner.
31. The Council concluded that the food and agriculture situation was very unfavorable to developing countries. Greater and more decisive political will was needed from all countries particularly developed ones to mobilize additional resources and introduce appropriate government policies to bring about an improvement in the situation.
32. The Council considered the food crisis in Africa on the basis of an introductory statement by the Director-General.
33. The Council expressed its grave concern with the extremely serious food situation in Africa, particularly in Ethiopia and the countries south of the Sahara, where many lives had already been lost. The Council noted with great anxiety that, as a result of poor 1984 crops, as many as 21 African countries would face even more severe food shortages during 1984/85. It noted that on the basis of the information available at present, FAO provisionally estimated their food aid requirements at over 4 million tons in the next year.
34. The Council expressed its appreciation of the timely warnings on the seriousness of the food situation in Africa provided by the Director-General since early 1983 and his appeals and initiatives to mobilize resources for meeting the emergency and rehabilitation needs of the affected countries. It commended the Director-General for his personal commitment and perseverance in issuing timely appeals for additional aid.
35. The Council recognized the important and unique role of FAO Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS), in continuously monitoring crop developments, and issuing alerts to the international community whenever food supplies were threatened so that timely action could be initiated. It strongly supported the work of the System, which it considered was an irreplaceable tool for the international community in identifying impending food shortages. The Council agreed with the Director-General's proposal to take every possible measure to strengthen the System further, both during the current biennium and in the next Programme of Work and Budget.
36. The Council commended the work of the Special Joint FAO/WFP Task Force on Africa and agreed that it should continue to issue regular reports on the latest position in the affected countries. The Council expressed its satisfaction with the food and agricultural assessment missions mounted by FAO to the affected countries. It emphasized that the continued success of these missions would depend on the close involvement of potential donors and the active participation of the governments of the affected countries in their work.
37. The Council expressed its appreciation for the generous response of the international community to the African food emergency. However, it noted that much more still needed to be done for both immediate emergency and rehabilitation needs. The Council stressed the need for an even greater relief effort in 1985 and for better coordination of food aid deliveries in order to reduce delays. In this context, the Council noted that, at the suggestion of the Director-General, an item dealing with improving delivery if emergency food aid has been included in the agenda of the Nineteenth Session of the Committee on Food Aid Policies and Programmes.
38. Some members, from both developed and developing countries, announced additional food aid contributions as well as pledges for financial and technical assistance toward meeting the African food emergency. The Council noted with satisfaction that, in response to a special appeal made by the Director-General, a number of countries had made special additional contributions to the IEFR in 1984 amounting to some 64 000 tons and underlined the need for further contributions. Many members endorsed the proposal of the Direcror-General to set a stand-by target of 2 million tons for the IEFR in order to enable it to meet the exceptional demands arising from emergencies such as the current African food crisis. The Council noted with appreciation the decision of one donor government to preposition food stocks in vulnerable areas. The Council urged other governments to con sider similar action to ensure that urgently needed food aid was delivered to the affected population without delay. The Council further noted with appreciation the decision of the Government of India to provide 100 000 tons of wheat to the drought-affected countries of Africa. It was a fitting tribute to the memory of the late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi who always had the interests of suffering humanity anywhere in the world so much at heart.
39. The Council emphasized that, in addition to the food aid required to meet the immediate emergency needs of the drought victime, it was essential to make, at the same time, special efforts to rehabilitate the agriculture and livestock sectors as quickly as possible. This would include the supply of additional seeds, fertilizers, vaccines and other inputs, as well as improvements in internal distribution arrangements. The Council agreed that the substantial needs for rehabilitation required immediate practical action.
40. In this connection, the Council agreed with the proposal of the Director-General to refocus some of FAO's regular programme resources during the current biennium up to an amount of US$5 million to support the rehabilitation efforts of the affected countries. The Council also expressed its appreciation of the initiative taken by the Director-General to organize a multi-donor mission to Ethiopia to identify the needs for rehabilitation and reconstruction of agriculture in various areas.
41. Members fron African countries indicated that their governments continued taking a number of measures to cope with the immediate emergency and to prevent recurrences in the future. These included the improvement of internal marketing and distribution arrangements, increased commercial imports, the allocation of additional resources to food production, the re-settlement of drought victims in less vulnerable areas and the implementation of emergency programmes to support the rehabilitation of agriculture and food production.
42. The Council emphasized that the current tragic emergency situation should not be allowed to detract attention from the underlying structural deficiencies which were at the root of the African food crisis and needed to be addressed with the utmost urgency. The Council noted with appreciation the Harare Declaration on the Food Crisis in Africa in which the African Ministers responsible for food and agriculture attending the Thirteenth Regional Conference for Africa had pledged themselves to adopt more effective policies for agricultural development and to take measures to increase the efficiency of resource use. The Council welcomed this expression of commitment to strategies of self-reliance, which it considered was an essential prerequisite to the resolution of the current food crisis in Africa.
43. The Council recognized, however, that the efforts of African governments to over come the underlying structural problems inhibiting the growth of the food and agriculture sector would need to be supported by the international community through substantially increased technical and financial assistance. The need for a constructive dialogue between the donors and the affected countries to develop a joint approach, taking into account the specific characteristics, and problems of each country, was stressed.
44. The Council identified a number of measures for priority action, including: man- power training, agricultural research, soil management and conservation, improved varieties of crops, appropriate technologies, better links between research and extension, reforestation, small-scale irrigation programmes, livestock disease control, pest eradication, improved storage, prevention of food losses, and improvement of distribution and transport facilities. The need to pay special attention to the problems of small farmers was emphasized. In this context the need to pay special attention to structural problems was also emphasized. The Council underlined the important role of FAO in assisting governments in these areas. Some members from developing countries indicated their readiness to offer technical cooperation in the fields of manpower training, the building of research infrastucture, the management of food reserves, the construction of storage facilities for grain and production inputs, assistance to prevent post-harvest losses and animal health and production. The Council considered that valuable lessons could be learned from the experience of developing countries which had successfully combatted the consequences of drought and other man-made and natural disasters in formulating plans for national preparedness and rehabilitation. In this connection, the Council welcomed the in-depth study which FAO planned to undertake of the root causes of and appropriate remedial actions to resolve the African food crisis, for consideration by the FAO Regional Conference for Africa in 1986.
45. The Council noted with concern that African countries were hampered in implementing agricultural development programmes by a number of physical constraints such as uncertain rains and frequent drought; a high incidence of arid or semi-arid areas and of fragile soils of low fertility; widespread erosion and desertification; weeds, pest infestations and diseases; the difficulty of access to potential food surplus areas in the country and other infrastructural deficencies; and in particular the shortage of production inputs and human health hazards inhibiting the use of large areas of land. Socio-economic conditions including rapid population growth and urbanization also aggravated the problems. The declining share of the population engaged in agriculture often created a scarcity of farm labour and limited the scope for increased food production. The Council agreed that there was a need for an appropriate set of policies that provided necessary incentives and support services to agriculture.
46. The Council recognized that there were also important external constraints experienced by low-income countries in Africa. These included a sharp deterioration of the terms of trade, protectionist policies, mounting debt burdens and increasing balance-of-payments difficulties. The need to finance increasing food imports coupled with foreign exchange shortages severely limited the capacity of African countries to import the production inputs and capital goods required for agricultural development. The Council stressed that the resolution of the problems of food production in Africa would also require appropriate action to improve the international trading environment.
47. The Council adopted the following Resolution:
Considering the arduous and critical food and agricultural situation of the countries of Africa, particularly those south of the Sahara, and taking into account the important principles of the Harare Declaration:
48. The Council considered and endorsed the Report of the Ninth Session of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), including its conclusions and recommendations.
49. The Council noted with concern that although cereal supplies were adequate at the global level, the food security situation in many low-income food-deficit countries, particularly in Africa, had deteriorated since the last session of the Committee in April 1984. The Council noted that production had improved in some low-income food-deficit countries but regretted that in a large number of them production of cereals and other staple foods had declined. At the same time, serious balance-of-payments problems, limited export markets, rising external debts and the depreciation of many currencies relative to the United States dollar made it difficult for the low-income food-deficit countries to take advantage of the low prices of wheat and rice to import the needed food.
50. The Council stressed that a substantial increase in food aid would be essential in the short-run in order to avoid a further fall in food consumption levels in many low-income food-deficit countries. The Council expressed appreciation to all donors for supplying more than 9 million tons of food aid in .1983/84. It however regretted that food aid shipments remained below the minimum target of 10 million tons agreed at the World food Conference. The Council urged governments of donor countries, other countries in a position to do so, and international organizations concerned, to take all. possible steps to increase food aid to meet the rising requirements of developing countries. It also underlined the need for the diversification of the commodity composition of food aid in order to take into account the dietary habits of the people in recipient countries. The Council reaffirmed that food should not be used for political purposes. It also noted with great concern that only a few countries had been able to use the IMF food-financing facility so far. Many members stressed the need to liberalize conditions for use of this facility and widen its scope to cover also non-cereal foods and agricultural inputs.
51. The Council recognized that the persistent problem of food shortages in many low- income food-deficit countries also reflected the structural difficulties in raising food output. It welcomed the efforts that had been made by many of these countries to raise food production and stressed the need for external assistance to support these efforts. In this connection, the Council urged the timely and adequate replenishment of the resources of the international financial institutions, especially IFAD.
52. The Council emphasized that food security depended not only on domestic production but also on an expanded capacity to import both commodities and essential agricultural imputs which were seriously affected at present by a lack of foreign exchange. Many members pointed out that the expansion in economic activity in some developed countries had not led to a recovery in developing countries, which continued to be adversely affected by protectionist measures, deteriorating terms of trade, high interest rates and heavy debt burdens. They emphasized the need for the establishment of a more equitable New International Economic Order to make progress towards world food security.
53. The Council noted that the Director-General had put forward a number of specific proposals for action at national, regional and global levels covering all three main components of the revised concept-of world food security, namely, production, stability of supplies and access to food. It reiterated that action at the national level within the framework of comprehensive national food security programmes or strategies was the indispensable basis for achieving food security. The Council stressed the need for the low-income food-deficit countries to assign priority to increasing domestic food production to ensure food security. It noted that, while a number of these countries were already intensifying efforts to increase food production, there were often structural difficulties and resource constraints which thwarted national efforts. The Council recognized that the issues involved were complex and required an appropriate blend of policies and external assistance. In particular, need for an appropriate pricing system and development of agricultural markets was stressed as an essential element of food and agricultural policy. In this respect the Council welcomed the forthcoming FAO Study on pricing policies.
54. The Council stressed the important contribution of traditional food crops to food security as well as of vegetables, livestock and fisheries. It also underlined the need for improvement in the nutritional quality of food and the need for nutritional guidelines to be integrated in agricultural and rural development programmes. The Council welcomed the Director-General's decision to convene a workshop on production and marketing constraints on roots, tubers and plantains in Africa.
55. The Council noted with interest the efforts being made by a number of developing countries to establish national food security reserves. It agreed that such reserves constituted an important element of a national food security programme. In particular, it underlined the useful role of reserves to meet at least immediate needs during emergencies until imports could be secured. The Council also stressed the need for improving access to food through employment generation, income transfer, reduction of poverty and better distribution of food.
56. As regards the proposed FAO Food Security Action Programme (FSAP), the Council was informed that the Programme would be implemented progressively beginning initially with one or two pilot countries. It noted that the FSAP would take an overall view of the food security needs of the country concerned, and would not necessarily be limited only to the existing FAO special action programmes.
57. The Council stressed the need for strengthening regional and sub-regional cooperation in food security among developing countries and agreed that such efforts should complement and not substitute for national efforts. It welcomed the increasing regional and sub- regional initiatives to foster collective self-reliance in food security among developing countries in line with the Plan of Action. The Council stressed the need for providing adequate technical and financial assistance to support the efforts of developing countries to promote regional and sub-regional cooperation. In this connection it welcomed the proposal for FAO to organize a workshop with the participation of representatives of regional and sub-regional economic groupings.
58. As regards measures at the global level, there was general support for an interim system of national food reserves under which developed countries and others in a position to do so, would, within the context of their national systems and legislation, earmark grain or funds for meeting the urgent import requirements of low-income food-deficit countries in the event of food supply shortfalls. The Council encouraged the Committee to exchange information on the nature and operational modalities of existing national systems and arrangements. While supporting an interim system of food reserves, many members also underlined the important contribution that a new international grains agreement with price and stock provisions could make to world food security and expressed the hope that negotiations towards such an agreement would be resumed soon.
59. The Council stressed that the capacity of food-deficit countries to finance food imports depended critically on the growth of their foreign exchange earnings. It agreed that a free and growing export trade was one of the important foundations for establishing food security and called on all countries to work for a liberalization of trade and particularly on developed countries to refrain from protectionist measures especially against export products of developing countries. In this connection the Council noted with satisfaction that, following its request, the CCP (Committee on Commodity Problems) planned to consider linkages between food security and trade in October 1985, and that its findings would be made available to the CFS.
60. The Council was informed that the Director-General planned to submit to the next session of the CFS a draft of the World Food Security Compact which would not contain any new or binding commitments, but would aim at giving a moral boost to all concerned and provide a basis for promoting action by governments, international organizations, NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) and individuals. The need for people's participation was also stressed. The Committee was encouraged to give full and careful consideration to the draft World Food Security Compact.
61. The Council welcomed a number of studies being undertaken to strengthen further the analytical basis for the Committee's work. These included an analysis of the production and marketing constraints on traditional food crops; a review of the medium- term outlook for world food supplies and requirements; and an assessment of the contribution which food aid might make to world food security in the late eighties and nineties.
62. The Council urged all international organizations concerned with food issues to cooperate closely and to coordinate their activities, taking into account their respective mandates, in order to avoid overlap and wastage of resources and to expedite progress towards world food security.
63. The Council commended the review made by the Committee of the constraints faced by low-income food-deficit countries in Africa in creating effective delivery systems to serve small farmers. It underlined the crucial role played by effective delivery systems in increasing production, and identified a number of areas for priority action. It agreed that increased international and financial assistance was required to assist African countries in providing adequate delivery systems for small farmers. FAO's special action programmes were considered a convenient vehicle in providing assistance for the creation of effective delivery systems.
64. The Council expressed general support for the activities carried out under the Food Security Assistance Scheme. It regretted that the level of resources of the Scheme during the 1982-83 biennium had declined sharply, and urged that all efforts be made to increase the resources of the Scheme. It noted with satisfaction the useful role played by the Scheme in establishing or reinforcing national early warning systems in order to obtain early information on crop conditions, on the market situation, and on stock positions. The emphasis put by the Scheme on training and technical assistance was also welcomed.
1 CL 86/2; CL 86/2 Corr. 1 (Spanish only); Cl 86/2-Sup. 1; CL 86/PV/l; CL 86/PV/2; CL 86/PV/3; CL 86/PV/4; CL 86/PV/16; CL 86/PV/17; CL 86/PV/18.
2 CL 86/2-Sup.l; CL 86/LIM/2; CL 86/PV/4; CL 86/PV/5; CL 86/PV/6 ; CL 86/PV/17.
3 CL 86/10; CL 86/PV/7; CL 86/PV/8; CL 86/PV/17.