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Current World Food Situation 1

13. The Council reviewed the current state of the global food situation based on the relevant documentation and the Director-General's analysis of it in his opening statement. It expressed general agreement with the conclusions presented therein. It regretted the general imbalances between developed and developing countries both in terms of the extent of recovery from the world economic recession and in terms of food supply.

14. The Council noted that there were still many negative features in the current world economic situation, even though some indicators suggested that the recession, the worst in the past 50 years, might be over. Strong economic growth and expansion in trade had been largely confined to a few countries. Many developing countries were confronted with intractable debt burdens, the servicing of which was made even more onerous by low international prices for commodities, high interest rates and the relative strength of the U.S. dollar. The need to adjust to the adverse economic environment had forced the economically weaker countries to reduce their imports, including food and inputs essential for development which had a negative effect on their economic growth and the levels of nutrition of their populations. Concerted international action was needed to tackle these debt problems.

15. These economic difficulties had been aggravated by financial and protectionist trade policies adopted by certain developed countries. The use of export subsidies and dumping of surplus agricultural products on world markets were depressing prices and making actual and potential exporting countries, even those with comparative advantages in trade, uncompetitive. Further, such trade practices acted as a disincentive to the growth of agricultural production in the developing countries. There was wide support for multilateral negotiations on trade leading to lower trade barriers, the removal of export subsidies and the bringing of agricultural trade within GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade). In some cases, large budgetary deficits had served to maintain interest rates at high levels and had contributed to the prevailing instability in currency exchange rates.

16. The Council also noted that the recent global economic recession had affected flows of development assistance, including commitments to agriculture. The reduction in these commitments, particularly the shift in concessional commitments away from multilateral towards bilateral sources, was viewed with concern. The relative reduction in concessional commitments that had led to an overall hardening in the terms of aid to the agricultural sector was also regretted. Opinions differed, however, on the causes of this deterioration in the flows of development assistance to agriculture and its meaning. The Council expressed its concern over the difficulties faced by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in obtaining its second replenishment and lamented that the existence of an efficient organization devoted to funding the development of small-scale farmers and food production should be threatened. The Council reiterated its appeal to all members of IFAD to contribute expeditiously by and generously to the Fund's second replenishment.

17. There was a belief that the current economic situation presented in the documents was clear proof of the need to eliminate protectionism for a fairer, more equitable and humane international order determining economic and social progress.

18. The Council welcomed the overall rise of more than 4 percent in world food production in 1984, but noted that this increase followed the small decline of the previous year and that serious imbalances were apparent between both developed and developing regions and among developing countries themselves. Some developed countries were increasingly faced with the problems of mounting food surpluses, while many developing countries were confronted by widespread hunger and crucial difficulties in achieving adequate food supplies, particularly in Africa. The Council viewed with concern the situation in which despite notable progress, particularly in Asia, the majority or developing countries - and over 80 percent of African countries - produced less food per caput in 1984 than in the mid-1970s. Cereal stocks were expected to increase to nearly 300 million tons by the end of 1984/85 and would thus represent 18 percent of forecast consumption of cereals in 1985/86. This was regarded as a reasonably satisfactory level for world food security. However, in some cases the need to curtail imports, as part of programmes of economic adjustment, had forced countries to reduce their imports of food, decreasing their food supplies available for consumption.

19. The Council recognized the important role of food supply and distribution management as an integral part of food production strategies both at national and international levels. It agreed that proper management of supplies would enhance the physical access of the poor to food and ensure better and more stable producer prices.

20. In referring to the situation in Africa 2, the Council agreed that the current food crisis was part of the overall economic and financial crisis that much of the continent faced. Therefore, external as well as internal factors had to be considered in diagnosing the problems. Although population growth was a contributing feature, slowness in adopting improved techniques and the low use of inputs also explained the lack of dynamism of Africa's agricultural sector. There was a serious lack of resources in both trained manpower and funds, to rapidly overcome the present crisis. International action was needed to relieve, at least, part of the external burden on Africa represented by debt.

21. The Council welcomed the generous response in the form of humanitarian aid for Africa by donors, including developing countries which were not traditional donors. It noted that some of this emergency aid had been mobilized through the International Emergency Food Reserve (IEFR), enabling the replenishment target to be exceeded in the past two years. While recognizing the role of food aid as an emergency relief measure, the Council stressed that food aid was also an important development resource. It agreed that food aid in a suitable form should continue to be provided to low-income countries including those which had registered a significant increase in food and agricultural production through efficient use of factors of production and food aid. Further, it was stressed that food aid commodities purchased from developing countries located in the same region as recipient countries would be a cost effective and speedy way of assisting both the countries in which the commodities were purchased and recipient countries.

22. The Council reviewed possible actions that might be taken in the light of these developments. It agreed that the primary responsibility lay with governments themselves to increase food production, the surest way of overcoming food problems. Such responsibility could best be demonstrated by ensuring that incentives were put in place to stimulate, maintain and increase food production. Appropriate policies including remunerative prices and the wide availability of basic consumer goods in rural areas were important parts of the overall incentive structure. Particular efforts were needed to ensure that small-scale farmers had the necessary incentives to expand their production of food for the market.

23. The Council emphasized the importance of the optimal availability and use and fair prices of inputs, particularly fertilizers. It recalled the concern of the Commission on Fertilizers at its session in February 1985 that the present growth rate of fertilizer use in developing countries was far below what was required to achieve self-reliance in food and food security. A call for additional efforts therefore was made to increase the growth rate in the use of fertilizers. It endorsed the Commission's call for greater fertilizer aid, either bilateral or multilateral such as FAO's International Fertilizer Supply Scheme (IFS). Greater attention could be given, however, to the recycling of organic wastes to reduce a country's dependence on manufactured fertilizers.

24. The Council emphasized the need for appropriate land use management so that agricultural production could be consistently increased without harming the environment. It felt that insufficient emphasis was being placed on the need to conserve the resource base and efficient management of resources required the establishment of national institutions to combine the activities of different ministries and agencies. Improved management could also be extended to the accelerated transfer of technology through better use and improvement of extension services.

25. In parallel with the improved management of resources, the Council reiterated the need for increased mobilization of resources to support efforts made by developing countries to increase food production and improve food security.

26. The Council underlined the contribution that crops such as the misnamed "coarse grains", tubers and vegetable oils could make to overcome problems of food supply in developing countries. Very often such crops were suited to dryland farming and could increase food supplies at low cost.

27. The Council noted that some of the large surpluses of food commodities existing in some developed countries could be used for food aid, as in fact had been done in some instances. It welcomed the information that the government of a major donor country had proposed the establishment of a humanitarian food reserve which would permit greater flexibility in the types of cereals it could provide as food aid.

28. It was felt that one serious difficulty was the disproportionate amount of resources invested in agriculture by developed countries. Shifting these resources out of the agricultural sector was proving to be a long and painful adjustment. There was a widespread consensus among developed countries that further policy changes should be pursued. In some cases, agricultural support programmes would have to become more oriented to market conditions. In other cases, limits were being imposed on the quantities of commodities eligible for support and producers were beginning to share in the costs of such support programmes. The Council agreed, however, that, given their important role in food markets, domestic agricultural policy measures taken by developed countries were of major importance to developing countries, both food importers and exporters.

Food Situation in Africa 3

29. The Council noted that FAO had been warning of a deteriorating African food situation since 1976;that FAO had participated actively in the preparation of the Regional Food Plan for Africa (AFPLAN) in 1978, which became later an integral part of the Lagos Plan of Action; that, on the basis of the information through FAO's Global Information Early Warning System (GIEWS), the Director-General had drawn the attention of the international community as early as Spring 1983 to the food emergency conditions arising in Africa. The Council welcomed the initiative taken by the Director-General in establishing the FAO/WFP Special Task Force to identify the most seriously affected countries and to monitor their situation closely and in convening special meetings of donors in September and November 1983 to consider the food situation in Africa and mobilize additional international assistance to meet the exceptional needs. The Council also noted with satisfaction that in 1984, the FAO Regional Conference for Africa had adopted the Harare Declaration which affirmed the need for major steps toward food self-reliance and security, with appropriate support by FAO and the international community.

30. The Council noted further that prior to the Harare Declaration, FAO had been continuously active in Africa under its Regular Programme, the Office for Special Relief Operations (OSRO), the Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP) and the Field Programme, since in fact more than 40 percent of FAO's regular and field programmes were allocated to the Africa region. The Council appreciated that, in view of the massive scale of the African food problem and in keeping with Resolution 1/86 of the Eighty-sixth Session of the FAO Council held in November 1984, the Director-General had decided to formulate coherent, practical agricultural rehabilitation programme comprising concrete projects ready for action, in collaboration with African countries that would be designed to yield substantial results within the next three years.

31. The Council commended the Director-General for providing assistance in the preparation of regional and sub-regional food plans for Africa; drawing the early attention of the international community to the emerging African food crisis; calling for increased food aid and other assistance to overcome the food emergency and remove logistical constraints; developing, in cooperation with African countries, an agricultural rehabilitation programme; and embarking upon the in-depth study on the longer-term problems of African agriculture.

32. The Council noted that the Agricultural Rehabilitation Programme for Africa covered the 21 most affected countries, and a further four were to be incorporated in it shortly (Guinea-Bissau, Sao Tome and Principe, Gambia and Djibouti). The Council was informed that the Programme had elicited an encouraging response from the donor community: of the projects formulated, 72 percent had attracted donor interest, and 32 percent were already approved for funding, to the value of some US$70 million.

33. The Council regretted that Africa's food import and food aid needs were at record levels, noting that the 21 most severely affected countries would require cereal imports of over 12 million tons in the current season. It was informed that, after allowing for increased commercial imports of 5.2 million tons, food aid requirements were estimated at 7 million tons, which was more than double the figure of 1983/84.

34. The Council expressed full support for the Global Information and Early Warning System and its proposed reinforcement. It had noted with satisfaction that the System had brought the magnitude of the needs to the prompt attention of the international community. It expressed appreciation for the generous response, which had resulted in donor pledges currently amounting to 6.6 million tons, thus leaving the food gap of 400 000 tons as of end May 1985. The Council expressed grave concern that only 3.6 million tons of pledged aid had so far been received in the areas concerned.

35. Although the situation had improved in some countries of the region, the food supply position remained critical in a number of others, and reports continued to be received of widespread malnutrition and death from starvation in some. In eastern Africa, logistic constraints were seriously impeding the delivery and internal distribution of food and inputs to the most seriously affected areas of Ethiopia and Sudan. In several Sahelian countries, the available supplies of food were insufficient even to meet the minimum needs of the most severely malnourished sections of the population; the present rate of delivery of food was well below the amount needed. In southern Africa, several countries would again face exceptional food supply difficulties in 1985/86 as a result of drought and the disrupting effects of civil strife and lack of inputs.

36. The Council urged the international community and the governments of the affected countries to take all possible steps to overcome logistic constraints in order to expedite the delivery of food aid and agricultural inputs to and within the affected countries. It emphasized that if these delivery delays continued, the arrival of food aid supplies could coincide with the forthcoming harvests and discourage local production in some countries.

37. The Council noted with concern that 15 of the 21 countries that experienced abnormal food shortages during the 1984/85 marketing year were in the same position for the second or third year in a row. The need to make a clearer distinction between countries which faced food emergencies as a result of drought and those for, which the problem was of a longer-term structural nature was stressed by some members. It was noted that a number of suggestions for the disaggregation of the estimates of food aid requirements between emergency and structural needs had been made at an Expert Consultation convened by FAO in March 1985, as well as at the Tenth Session of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), which were being reviewed for possible implementation. It was recognized that in all of the 21 African countries identified by FAO as facing exceptional food aid needs in 1984/85, production of cereals in 1984 had been adversely affected by drought or unfavourable weather conditions. In some of the affected countries, food supply difficulties had also been exacerbated by civil strife, an influx of refugees and other problems.

38. The Council discussed the evolution of the African food crisis over the last decade, during which declining per caput food production occurred in 2 of the 46 African countries which had been analyzed. Food imports on commercial terms had become more difficult to finance from limited foreign exchange earnings. High population growth continued in most countries of Africa, putting stress on fragile land resources, in the battle to increase food production.

39. The Council was deeply concerned that the number of malnourished people in sub-Saharan Africa had increased 25 percent in the last decade to a total of some 100 million people, representing half the population. Child mortality was significantly higher than the overall average of developing countries.

40. The Council agreed that, although the current food emergencies in Africa could be linked to widespread and persistent drought and political instability, deeper causes of the food problem could be identified. The Council felt that the major causes of Africa's food crisis could be identified in lagging agricultural sector; inadequate resources, including external resources; low levels of technology, including the very limited use made of improved seeds and fertilizers; weak and ineffective research and extension; inadequate supplies of essential inputs; lack of facilities for the provision of credit to farmers and marketing of agricultural produce; rapid population growth; high rates of urbanization; changes in urban food habits and transport constraints and other agricultural policy factors. In this connection, it was recalled that FAO was currently engaged in making an in-depth study of African food and agricultural problems, which was expected to be discussed at the Fourteenth FAO Regional Conference for Africa in 1986.

41. The Council welcomed the generous contributions of donors in increasing total food aid to Africa to an unprecedented level for the year 1984/85. However, the Council noted that some of the affected countries faced many constraints in handling and distributing food aid. It felt that countries should be assisted in order to enable them to anticipate and respond to such emergencies better than was possible at present. In this connection, a number of measures were suggested, including: the establishment of national early warning systems, food relief contingency schemes, and backup arrangements for mobilizing supplies. Use could be made of modern technology using satellite imagery for better monitoring of climate and weather patterns, and making it easier to enhance crop forecasting skills and to predict potentially threatening emergency situations. Delays in procurement and transportation of emergency food aid supplies could be cut down considerably by the pre- positioning of food stocks in disaster-prone areas, early shipment of food supplies or by purchasing by donors in nearby countries with surplus stocks. The Council expressed appreciation for the technical assistance provided by FAO under the Food Security Assistance Scheme (FSAS) and through advice on such matters as agro-climatology and the establishment of national early warning systems.

42. The Council underlined the need to formulate and follow a clear long-term perspective, while coping with the immediate crisis. It stressed that a link should be established among emergency relief measures, medium-term measures of the Rehabilitation Programme and long-term arrangements for agricultural development in Africa. The Council observed that this important issue would be covered in more detail by the major in-depth study.

43. Support was also given by many members to the decision made by the Programme Committee in its Forty-eighth Session and the Finance Committee in its Fifty-fifth Session, to transfer up to US$15 million of the savings of the 1984-85 budget to fund projects in the Rehabilitation Programme for Agriculture in Africa 4. They noted that it was consistent with the measure approved by the Council for refocusing US$5 million within the 1985 FAO Regular Programme in support of the African Rehabilitation Programme.

44. The Council commended the repeated efforts of the Director-General in drawing attention to the Africa food crisis and in dealing with emergency and rehabilitation, including his initiative as approved by the Programme and Finance Committees to transfer US$15 million of savings and to refocus US$5 million within the FAO Regular Programme in support of rehabilitation requirements of drought-affected countries in Africa. It also welcomed the cooperation of FAO with the Office for Emergency Operations in Africa (OEOA) of the United Nations and other organizations within the UN system.

45. The Council then adopted the following Resolution:

Resolution 1/87



Recalling the critical food situation in Africa, indicated in Council Resolution 1/86 of the Eighty-sixth Session of the Council, a situation which had not improved since then,

Expressing deep gratitude to the international community including the developing countries for the generous food aid and provision of logistics support provided,

Noting, however, that food aid deliveries were still below estimated needs and that there were serious logistic problems hindering delivery of available food supplies,

Calling for more emergency help, especially with all the means for establishing efficient logistics systems,

Stressing, however, the desire of the most severely affected African countries to be free from increasing dependency on food aid, to rehabilitate their food and agricultural production capacities, and to cooperate in increasing domestic production in order to ensure regional self reliance within Africa,

Appreciating the initiative of the Movement of the Non-Aligned Countries through ECDC (Economic Cooperation between Developing Countries) or South-to-South cooperative arrangements, to assist the affected African members of the Movement:


  1. To request the Director-General to continue to assist the concerned African countries in their efforts to implement the principles of the Harare Declaration;
  2. To urge the African countries concerned to take all the measures within their powers to ensure that adequate food supplies, including food aid, reach those most affected within their countries without further delay;
  3. To appeal to the international community, in particular donor countries, including potential donors, to continue to give high priority to the provision of additional external aid and assistance in food and logistic support and other urgently needed measures;
  4. To urge donor countries to mobilize available food reserves within the African region in order to speed up delivery of food assistance in the region through triangular transactions;
  5. To reiterate in this connection that the rehabilitation and development of food and agricultural production should be given the highest priority in the policies and programmes of African countries as well as in external aid and assistance programmes, using as example the projects in the FAO Agricultural Rehabilitation Programme for Africa (ARPA) presented on 30 January 1985 (Ethiopia) and 29 March 1985 (20 other countries);
  6. To endorse the actions taken by the Director-General of FAO to produce the FAO Agricultural Rehabilitation Programme for Africa, by allocating US$5 million within the 1984-85 Regular Programme in support of FAO's rehabilitation efforts, and to transfer savings of up to US$15 million in the 1984-85 budget for implementation of the rehabilitation projects within ARPA;
  7. To support the priority given to the Global Information and Early Warning System and to the development needs of Africa by the Director-General in his proposals in the 1986-87 Programme of Work and Budget;
  8. To request the Director-General to continue his concrete and practical efforts to inform Member Governments of the situation and needs of all affected African countries and to continue to seek to mobilize, in cooperation with other concerned international agencies and bodies, the necessary aid and assistance to them and to report further on the progress made to the next session of the Conference.

Report of the Tenth Session of the Committee on World Food Security
(Rome, 10-17 April 1985)

World Food Security Compact

46. The Council noted that the Committee on World Food Security at its Tenth Session had considered the text of the World Food Security Compact, and that while the Committee had given a broad general acceptance to the draft text and had agreed to transmit it to the Council, divergent views had been expressed during the Committee's deliberations. As complete agreement had not been reached at the Committee, the Director-General, with the objective of assisting the Council in reaching a full consensus, had prepared a revised text of the World Food Security Compact for its consideration. The Council appreciated this initiative of the Director-General and the improvements incorporated therein.

47. The Council received with great interest and appreciation a message to the Council and to the Director-General from His Excellency Bettino Craxi, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Italy. Noting that FAO was celebrating its Fortieth Anniversary this year, His Excellency Bettino Craxi considered that the World Food Security Compact was of great political importance and appealed to all nations to proclaim, through its approval, their common will to free humanity from the spectre of hunger and malnutrition. In this connection, he recalled his visit to FAO in November 1984 when he had underlined the importance of this initiative of the Director-General. In his view, the new Compact must have the same range and the same characteristics of being a solemn moral imperative as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, rather than a legal document. Moreover, it must concern everyone, as the achievement of this objective demanded global action and co-responsibility. Stressing that the contrast between food waste and food scarcity could no longer be tolerated, and emphasizing the need for greater international political stability, he called for a new solidarity of destinies of the industrialized countries and the emerging countries. He thus underlined the importance of the Compact as an expression of our faith in the future and of the common, serious commitment of every member of the international community to play its part in the construction of a true peace with justice and, therefore, founded on the respect for the fundamental rights of man, the first of these being the right to life.

48. The Council noted that the Compact was strictly voluntary in nature and did not involve any new commitments. It represented a moral reaffirmation of commitment to achieve the objectives set forth in the broadened concept of world food security, namely attaining desirable levels of production, increasing the stability of supply, and ensuring access to food supplies on the part of those in need. The Council also noted that the Compact aimed at stimulating support for these objectives and improving the general policy environment for action toward attaining them.

49. The overwhelming majority of members gave their full support to the revised text of the Compact. They considered that it set out the moral values and lines of action which should guide governments, non-governmental organizations and individuals in attaining the commonly shared objective of improved world food security and the elimination of hunger and malnutrition. In their view, the adoption of the Compact would not only strengthen the resolve of all people to ensure food security but also provide a fitting proclamation of commitment to this goal, bearing in mind that this year marked the Fortieth Anniversary of the foundation of FAO. Some members stated that they would have preferred further amendments, with a view to clarifying or elaborating concepts, strengthening several- aspects of the draft Compact and improving the language. However, they accepted the revised text in the interest of achieving a consensus.

50. Three members expressed the reservations of their governments on the Compact.

51. The Council approved the World Food Security Compact as set out hereinafter and recommended it to the Conference for adoption.



Insecurity of food supplies has afflicted mankind throughout history. In modern times, progress in harnessing the forces of nature and in organizing relief for the distressed has mitigated the impact of hunger and malnutrition, but food security has still to reach hundreds of millions of the world's people. More must be done, and quickly.

Food insecurity is not a single, uniform problem. Food shortages are felt at the level of the nation, of the household and of the individual. There are many different situations in which essential foods may be found lacking, many different causes underlying them, and many different solutions which need to be adopted if food security for all is to be attained on a lasting basis.

The World Food Security Compact brings together general principles and suggestions for action by governments, organizations and individuals. Because of the great diversity of circumstances in different areas, actions that are appropriate in one location or situation may not be suitable in another. Measures to strengthen food security must be carefully tailored to match the specific problems they are intended to resolve.

The governments, organizations and individuals subscribing to the present World Food Security Compact agree to work, in their respective spheres, toward bringing about a higher degree of food security at all levels throughout the world.


  1. World food security is a common responsibility of mankind. The ultimate objective is to ensure that all people at all times are in a position to produce or procure the basic food they need.
  2. Achievement of the "fundamental right of everyone to be free from hunger" depends ultimately on the abolition of poverty. But the hungry cannot wait. The search for world food security must include immediate steps to help the distressed, as well as longer-term measures to bring about economic and social progress. No one can remain indifferent to the fate of those whose daily food is insecure.
  3. The achievement of food security should be an integral objective of economic and social plans. Action should be aimed at three specific goals: attaining desirable levels of food production, increasing the stability of food supply, and ensuring access to food supplies on the part of those in need.
  4. Food should not be used as a means of exerting political pressure.


  1. Governments carry the primary responsibility for ensuring the food security of their peoples, and for banishing chronic hunger and malnutrition from their territory. They should give this objective an overriding priority.
  2. Governments of developing countries should promote domestic food production as the first line of attack on food insecurity. They should avoid, as far as they can, the risks that result from an excessive dependence on food imports, notably for feeding urban populations. In particular, they should ensure that city-dwellers do not acquire a permanent preference for imported basic foods which cannot be grown domestically.
  3. Governments of developing countries should re-examine and, if necessary, change their national policies so as to stimulate food production. They should, in particular, ensure that farmers are given adequate incentives to grow more food. The review should extend to policies outside the agricultural sector but with a bearing on food security, such as demography.
  4. Governments of developing countries should make advance arrangements for maintaining food security in times of difficulty, especially when faced with drought or other natural disaster. The measures adopted might include an early warning system to detect the build-up of an emergency, the creation of food reserves where this is feasible, and contingency plans for the distribution of relief supplies.
  5. Governments of developing countries should undertake measures for improving the economic situation of population groups which are particularly disadvantaged, including those in remote parts of the country. Rural development activities, oriented specifically towards the needs of the poor, should be promoted with special emphasis on the participation of the small farmer. In general, while maintaining incentives for agricultural production, every encouragement should be given to measures which will increase the purchasing power of the poorest strata of the population, in line with the Programme of Action adopted by the World Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural . Development (WCARRD). Governments should make all efforts so that agricultural work receives a higher status.
  6. Governments of developing countries should seek to make cooperative arrangements with each other for the purpose of strengthening food security. The specific activities to be carried out in common might include: regional early warning systems for detecting agricultural emergencies; joint activities to increase the availability of seeds, fertilizers and other inputs in the area; programmes for the control of migrant pests and diseases; the exchange of experience and information and possibly the creation of regional or sub-regional food reserves.
  7. Governments should reaffirm their moral as well as economic and political commitment to cooperation with each other in strengthening global food security.
  8. Governments of developed countries, whether they be exporters or importers, should consider the interests of the world as a whole when making their policy decisions on food production, stocks and imports. Similarly, arrangements which insulate domestic consumers from price swings in international markets should not result in increased hardship for the weakest and most vulnerable countries. The overall objective should be the development of a world food system characterized by stability and equity.
  9. Emergency food aid and other forms of relief should continue to be provided generously to poorer countries. At the same time increasing importance should be attached to measures, in particular to promote agricultural production, which could prevent such emergencies arising in future.
  10. Government of developed countries should continue to seek more effective ways of helping low-income food-deficit countries to secure their imports of essential food supplies, as well as of fertilizers and other agricultural requisites, in times of difficulty. The problems to be envisaged include a major shortage of supplies on international markets, or an economic crisis in the importing country.
  11. For many developing nations, food security also depends on their ability to export agricultural and other products in order to import foodstuffs. This fact should be taken into account by the governments of developed countries in negotiations on trade questions. The objective should thus be to recognize the moral dimension in trade relations with a view to striking an equitable balance between domestic interests and the good of the world as a whole.
  12. Governments of developed countries should give a specially high priority to helping developing nations where a major effort is being made to overcome the problems of rural poverty, the principal cause of chronic hunger and malnutrition.


  1. Non-governmental organizations with a concern for world food security can stimulate, support and complement the actions of governments, in developed and developing countries alike. In particular, they can help to create a climate of opinion favouring measures for food security, thus opening the way for additional steps by governments as suggested in this Compact. Furthermore, they can contribute directly, through operational and other activities, towards building up higher levels of food security in various parts of the . Third World.
  2. Non-governmental organizations can play an increasingly active role in enlightening public opinion about the problems of food security in an inter-dependent world. Besides the immediate challenge of hunger and malnutrition, they can also provide information on important issues relating to food security, such as the impact on the poorer nations of actions taken by the richer nations in the fields of trade, protectionism and economic adjustment.
  3. Non-governmental organizations in all parts of the world can take the lead in organizing more frequent people-to-people contacts between countries, especially between countries at different levels of economic development. Such initiatives should aim at increasing mutual understanding, and at opening up avenues for possible cooperation in practical activities.


  1. The individual is called upon not only to work for his own food security and that of his family, but also to recognize that he has a sacred obligation to concern himself with food security of those less fortunate than himself. Failure to provide succour when it is needed is a betrayal of man's duty to his fellow men.
  2. the practical level, individuals can play a unique role in keeping public opinion in the richer nations aware of the need for global cooperation in achieving world food security, which is often overshadowed by domestic problems. Individuals of every background can contribute towards building an atmosphere of concern for the world's food problems.
  3. It is essential that work in agriculture (including not only the activities of farmers but also the efforts of researchers, extension agents and other professional categories) be given a higher status than it currently receives. Individuals can play a special role in creating a climate of opinion more favourable to work in agriculture and food production.
  4. Individual farmers, in every country and climate, provide the indispensable basis for food security. But the farmer is responsible, not only for food production, but also for the conservation of the soil and other natural resources bequeathed by nature and our ancestors to us who are alive today. The farmer, as custodian of the land resource must conserve it for future generations, avoiding practices which result in erosion or other forms of destruction.
  5. Individuals everywhere should interest themselves actively in the efforts of governments and organizations to promote development and food security. The concern of individuals creates the groundswell of support needed by non-governmental organizations. The work of these organizations, in turn, helps to mobilize public opinion for action by governments. Without the active interest of the man-in-the-street, little may be achieved. But interest does not mean blind support: criticism can be constructive. The enemy is indifference.

Other Matters

52. The Council expressed its appreciation for the Report of the Tenth Session of the Committee on World Food Security, and endorsed its conclusions and recommendations.

53. The Council agreed with the Committee's assessment of the current world food security situation. It noted with concern that the global food situation continued to be marked by a sharp contrast between the existence of ample supplies at the world level and of widespread and acute food shortages in many developing countries. It expressed concern that while world food output had increased substantially, food production had failed to keep pace with the growth of population in many low-income countries.

54. The Council stressed that the achievement of food security depended primarily on a sustained increase in food production at the national level in developing countries. However, it recognized that food security in many low-income food-deficit countries was also adversely affected by a lack of access, due to financial constraints, to food supplies in world markets. Although international prices of cereals in U.S. dollars were relatively low, the foreign exchange resources of many low-income food-deficit countries had been under great pressure from large external debt servicing charges and low prices for many of their export commodities. The Council drew attention to the adverse impact of protectionist measures on international trade, and particularly on the exports of developing countries, and underlined the need for improved access to markets through the elimination of export subsidies on agricultural products and liberalization of trade.

55. The Council appreciated the Committee's review of the purposes and operational modalities of the Global Information and Early Warning System in Food and Agriculture, and expressed its strong support for the work of the System. The Council considered that during the ten years of its operation the System had performed effectively its unique role of continuously monitoring crop developments at both the global and national levels and issuing alerts to the international community whenever food supplies were threatened. It urged all governments to participate in the System and to provide the System with all available data for its more effective functioning and emphasized the importance of establishing and improving national and regional early warning systems and national preparedness plans. The Council noted with satisfaction that FAO was assisting interested countries in establishing early warning systems and national preparedness programmes, both through FSAS projects and through promoting exchange of experiences at regional levels. It fully supported the proposals of the Director-General for strengthening the System in the 1986-87 biennium, which it considered to be a high priority.

56. The Council noted with appreciation that the minimum annual target of 10 million tons of food aid in cereals was expected to be surpassed in 1984/85 for the first time since it was set by the World Food Conference in 1974 and that the total assistance was expected to exceed 12 million tons of cereals in wheat equivalent against the minimum commitment of 7.6 million tons. However, many members pointed out that the level of food aid still fell considerably below requirements. In this connection, they referred to the FAO/WFP Secretariat's estimate of 20 million tons of food aid requirements by 1985, and in supporting that estimate suggested that the food aid target be raised.

57. The Council endorsed the conclusion of the Committee that food aid could play an important role in support of the three components of world food security, namely, increasing production, stabilizing supplies and improving access to food by the poor. It supported the recommendations of the Committee for actions to be taken by recipient countries in order to make the contribution of food aid to food security more effective. As regards recommendations that action should be taken by donor countries to enhance the contribution of food aid to food security, the Council particularly stressed the importance of timeliness and better coordination of food aid shipments, among donors and others concerned. It noted that some members had drawn the Committee's attention to the potential dangers of structural food aid and that the Committee had stressed the need for higher priority to rural development.

58. As regards the proposal for prepositioning of stocks in advance of possible emergencies in disaster-prone areas, or alternatively in strategic locations with good shipping connections, the Council welcomed the Committee's request to the Secretariat to develop this proposal further for future consideration.

59. The Council supported the promotion of triangular transactions where feasible, so that food aid commodities which were compatible with traditional food habits could be provided. In this connection, the Council considered that timely identification of suitable surpluses in developing countries could help to promote triangular transactions, and it requested that FAO consider disseminating information about availabilities of food surpluses in developing countries.

60. The Council noted that the minimum annual target of IEFR had been substantially exceeded in 1984 and 1985. Many members agreed with the proposal that the target be raised to two million tons on a stand-by basis. Some other members felt that an increase in the IEFR target was not appropriate. The Council agreed with the recommendation of the CFS to invite the Committee on Food Aid Policies and Programmes (CFA) to consider the proposal for a stand-by reserve for IEFR, bearing in mind the views expressed by delegates at the Tenth Session of the CFS. The Council also agreed with the Committee that the proposal for a food aid insurance scheme and other alternative proposals needed further development and requested the Secretariat to submit more developed proposals to a future session of the CFS.

61. The Council agreed with the suggestion that the study on the contribution of food aid to strengthening food security (CFS: 85/3 Add.2) could provide a useful source document for CFA and also WFC (World Food Council). Some members stressed the importance they gave to the strengthening of the complementary relationship between CFS and CFA and also with WFC.

62. The Council reiterated its general support of an interim system of national food reserves to ensure that urgent import requirements of low-income food-deficit countries could be met in the event of food supply shortfalls. It urged all governments which had not already done so to earmark, within the context of their national systems and legislation, the necessary reserves or funds for this purpose, and requested the Committee to continue to monitor and report on the progress in this regard.

63. The Council noted with concern that only seven countries had been in a position to make use of the IMF (International Monetary Fund) Cereal Financing Facility since its inception in 1981. The need for its liberalization was stressed and it was suggested that FAO continue its efforts in this direction.

64. The Council welcomed the Committee's review of the role of forestry in food security, noting that forestry contributed to food security through its protective environmental role, through the creation of employment and income, as a source of supplementary food supply, as the source of fuel wood for cooking food, and as a source of foreign exchange. It recommended, inter alia that FAO increase its work in the area of agro-forestry systems which integrate forestry, crops and livestock production at the farm level, and strengthen the related information base.

65. Many members regretted that there had been little progress towards the negotiation of a new International Wheat Agreement (IWA) with economic provisions, taking into account the interests of developing countries, and stressed the importance of concluding such an Agreement with economic provisions as soon as possible. Some members did not support the inclusion of economic provisions in a new Agreement, although they believed other improvements could be made to strengthen it. The Council noted that the June 1985 session of the International Wheat Council (IWC) would receive the report of a Working Group which had been established to review the possibilities for improving the existing Agreement. Some members suggested that the Food Aid Convention (FAC) might be de-linked from the IWA, as a means of strengthening the FAC. Some other members, however, considered that the two Agreements were mutually supportive and that together they had greater impact than each acting separately, and that they should not therefore be de-linked.

66. Some members expressed their concern at the fact that the trade embargo for political reasons against Nicaragua affected the food security of that country, and in this connection they stressed the concepts embodied in Resolution 39/210 of the General Assembly of the United Nations. Some other members regretted the introduction of political factors into the technical discussions of the Council.8 9

67. A number of suggestions were made for analytical studies that might be undertaken by the Secretariat. These included: an examination of the food security situation in the Caribbean region, a review of subsidy programmes in developing countries as a means for providing access to food by the poor with particular reference to their impact on domestic production, and an analysis of the implications of food and agricultural policies of main grain exporting countries for international prices and availability of food.

1 CL 87/2; CL 87/2-Sup.l; CL 87/PV/l; CL 87/PV/2; CL 87/PV/3; CL 87/PV/18.

2 See paras. 29-45.

3 CL 87/13; CL 87/13-Sup.l; CL 87/2, paras. 42-47; CL 87/2-Sup.l, paras. 10-20; CL 87/LIM/2; CL 87/PV/3; CL 87/PV/4; CL 87/PV/18.

4 See also paras. 234 and 235.

5 CL 87/10; CL 87/10-Sup. 1; CL 87/PV/5; CL 87/PV/6; CL 87/PV/18; CL 87/PV/19.

6 The delegations of Australia, Canada and the United States of America dissociated their governments from the draft text of the World Food Security Compact as presented.

7 The delegations of Argentina, Colombia, Congo, Cuba, Panama and Venezuela deplored the reservations of the above countries because they considered it a negative attitude to International cooperation.

8 The delegation of the United States of America expressed its reservation on this paragraph because it represented the Introduction of an Inappropriate issue into the propeedlngs of the FAO Council.

9 The delegations of Colombia and Cuba expressed the opinion that the aforementioned reservation was unacceptable.

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