7. The Council reviewed the food and agricultural situation at the world, regional and country levels on the basis of the Director-General's statement, the document on the State of Food and Agriculture (SOFA), and its supplement.1 The Council concurrently discussed the Report of the Committee for Food Security2 which was tabled for adoption. It generally concurred with the information and analysis presented in the documents and expressed appreciation for the quality of the analysis and the contents. The Council particularly appreciated the special policy issues dealing with the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) Uruguay Round, global warming and HIV/AIDS.
8. The Council noted with grave concern that the global food security situation had deteriorated further in 1994, with those countries requiring exceptional food assistance rising from 27 in 1993 to 31 in 1994. It noted that Africa remained the most seriously affected region with 15 countries, chiefly in eastern Africa, facing critical food supply difficulties, and urged FAO and the international community to take quick and timely action. Certain Member Nations noted with regret that there had been a fall in the volume of world food aid.
9. The Council was pleased to note the prospects for an improved global economic environment, conducive to agricultural development, the likelihood of a more disciplined agricultural trade order in the wake of the Uruguay Round agreement, and the progress made by many developing countries in economic reform, stabilization and recovery, as well as in agricultural development and food security. Many agricultural exporter countries were expected to benefit from the recent strengthening of prices for commodities crucial to their economies.
10. However, the Council expressed serious concern over the fact that many countries were not expected to benefit from these improvements. It viewed with particular concern the gravity of the economic and social problems in Africa, especially in East Africa, and the tragic situation of millions of people caused by armed conflicts, civil strife and the precarious food security situations around the world.
11. In these circumstances, the Council regretted the proliferation of conflicts and food emergency situations which used the scarce resources required for rehabilitation and development purposes in those emergency situations. The Council was particularly disturbed that commitments of external assistance to agriculture, especially multilateral commitments, had tended to decline in real terms in recent years.
12. The Council emphasized the unsolved problems of protectionism in agricultural trade, inadequate market access for developing countries' exports and the new challenges that would need to be faced in the trading system in the post-Uruguay Round environment.
13. The Council encouraged quick ratification of the Uruguay Round Final Act. The Council stated that compliance with agreements reached in the Uruguay Round would provide opportunities for growth in world trade and for significant increases in the foreign earnings of developing countries as a whole. In this regard, trade amongst developing countries could also be stimulated. It recognized that liberalization in agriculture as embedded in the Final Act would take place gradually, and that a considerable degree of protection and support would remain even when the
Agreement on Agriculture was fully implemented. The Council, while cautioning that the likely rise in world market prices for basic foods might prove adverse to some low-income food-deficit countries (LIFDCs), also noted that such effects could be mitigated if policies were pursued enabling an increase in food output in the developing countries in response to the higher prices. Certain members expressed concern about the fall in agricultural stocks. In this connection, the Council noted the Decision on Measures Concerning the Possible Negative Effects of the Reform on Least-Developed and Net Food Importing Developing Countries.
14. The Council emphasized that FAO had an important role to play in assessing the implications and impacts of the Agreement on Agriculture and in assisting countries in the implementation of their commitments. The Council stressed FAO's expertise and role in, inter alia: assessing the effects, on a commodity and country basis, providing advice and assistance on how countries could best adjust to their commitments and the new international trading environment, assisting in the implementation of the Sanitary and Phytosanitary measures, and monitoring and assessing food aid flows to ensure that food aid transactions were carried out in accordance with FAO principles of surplus disposal. The Council urged that the FAO and the World Trade Organization (WTO) should work closely together, and hoped obstacles encountered so far in developing such relationship would be speedily overcome. It requested to be kept informed of developments in this regard.
15. With regard to global warming, the Council called for further research to reduce uncertainty for policy formulation. While recognizing that costly measures to counter global warming would not be justified given the uncertainty that still prevailed in that area, it emphasized that a number of preventative measures could be introduced at low cost. The Council felt that FAO had an important role to play in research and information in this area.
16. The Council regretted the global incidence and spread of the HIV/AIDS virus which was not just a health issue, but also had adverse implications for agriculture and food security. The Council urged FAO to continue monitoring the HIV/AIDS problem and to cooperate, as appropriate, with the World Health Organization (WHO) and other agencies in assessing the adverse effects on food security and develop a preventive programme for the benefit of women in agriculture.
17. The Council expressed concern over the availability and management of water resources in relation to food production, food security and sustainable development. It urged FAO to continue to give priority attention to this concern.
18. The Council emphasized the importance of fisheries contribution to food security, as well as to social and economic development particularly in small island countries, and noted with concern the critical situation of some marine fish stocks. It, therefore, called for intensified efforts for rational management and sustainable development of marine and inland fisheries resources, including aquaculture.
19. While commending the initiatives taken by FAO in the elaboration of the International Code of Conduct for Responsible Fishing and the approval of the Agreement to promote Compliance with International Conservation and Management Measures by Fishing Vessels on the High Seas, the Council urged donors and financing institutions to provide further assistance to developing Member Nations for improved sustainable fisheries management and strengthening of national institutional capacity. It noted with appreciation the information provided by the Government of Japan on the International Conference on Sustainable Contribution of Fisheries to Food Security, which was to be organized in collaboration with FAO in Kyoto on 4-9 December 1995.
20. The Council endorsed the report of the Nineteenth Session of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS),2 which it noted had been a comprehensive and balanced view of the discussions held during the Session. It was noted that the CFS had an important role to play as a technical forum for debating all activities of FAO related to food security. In this regard, many members
stressed the importance of linkages between sustainability, environmental degradation and attempts at improving food security through increased food production. They also reiterated that for achieving food security it was necessary to apply measures designed to address issues related to physical and economic access to food at the household level, as well as those that facilitated food self-reliance at the national level. Many members also looked forward to the Committee's consideration of the document being prepared on the constraints that hindered the full realization of the potentials in both high and low potential areas of the developing countries, and the policy framework within which these constraints could be overcome. General support was expressed for reorientation of the Committee's future work programme to include more consideration of medium term trends and topical issues with respect to their policy implications for food security, and to establish mechanisms to stimulate dialogue and exchange of views with the Secretariat between sessions. The Council also took note of the Conference of the Ministers of Food and Agriculture of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) countries (Bali, Indonesia, 10-11 October 1994), and was informed of the Bali Declaration on Food Security for the NAM and other developing countries.
21. The Council emphasized the importance of the Special Programmes that had been approved at its Hundred and Sixth Session (Rome, 30 May - 1 June 1994), and expressed strong support for the implementation of the pilot projects, the multidisciplinary projects on food security in Low-Income Food-Deficit countries (LIFDCs), as well as the Emergency Prevention System (EMPRES) for Transboundary Animal and Plant Pests and Diseases programme. While priority should be granted to locust and rinderpest control, it was hoped that the serious problem of foot-and-mouth disease and contagious bovine pleuropneumonia could also be addressed under this special programme. The Council noted that these important matters would be discussed in detail under Agenda Item ll.3
22. The Council stressed the importance of the policy role of FAO in the present environment of economic liberalization and market orientation.
23. The Council took note that the Representative of Central East European Countries had made a joint statement on the specific needs of the sub-region which called for further FAO activities in the region, particularly in the period of transition.
24. The countries of the Latin America and Caribbean Region stated that despite the efforts deployed to improve the situation of agricultural production, it continued to be difficult, and therefore they requested FAO to strengthen assistance to the region as was recommended at the Regional Conference for Latin America (San Salvador, El Salvador, 29 August - 2 September 1994).
1 CL 107/2-Sup.l; CL 107/2-Corr.l; CL 107/PV/l; CL 107/PV/2; CL 107/PV/3; CL 107/PV/4; CL 107/PV/13.
2 CL 107/PV/l; CL 107/PV/2; CL 107/PV/3; CL 107/PV/4; CL 107/PV/13.
3 See paragraphs 97-125 below.