H.J.H. TALEYARKHAN (India): At the outset I would like to express my appreciation of the AGRIS Data Bank Utilization Policy which was started in 1975, and has now over 130 centres operating in different parts of the world. It is no doubt serving an extremely useful purpose and providing agricultural information at all levels, technical as well as the latest developments in modernization of agriculture.
In this connection, the importance of dissemination of information on agricultural development to farmers and village level workers cannot be overemphasized. It is of the most vital importance, and very often it is the communication gap which is the main culprit to lack of development to the extent that it is possible to do. Therefore, with more knowledge being imparted to farmers who are receptive and responsive through the instrument of AGRIS, it will be very greatly beneficial. I have only to make one or two suggestions in this connection before I come to others, and that is that the information also requires to be conveyed through word of mouth and audiovisual aids, because there is still considerable illiteracy among the farmers of developing countries.
It may be true that the AGRIS agency provides information at intergovernmental level, but at the same time if it does not percolate right down to the farmers, it would not serve the purpose for which this ideal has been created, because from what I have seen of the AGRIS literature, it is really excellent data and would be extremely useful to the farmers, but it must reach the small and marginal farmers, as I mentioned just now, through word of mouth, audiovisual aids and through the village level workers who themselves will require to be explained its purpose.
Secondly, this could also be done through government demonstration farms in various parts of the world. In various countries there are government demonstration farms, and if these numerous government demonstration farms are provided with the literature of AGRIS, it will be of the greatest value and importance. I do not know to what extent it reaches them, and organizations in India like the ICCR and others might be having them, and it could be operated also through the lab-to-land programmes so that they could reach the mass of the farmers, which is most important.
So I would like to ask the question: as of now, how far down does AGRIS information reach the farmers for whom it is essentially meant, and to what extent have the benefits accrued to the farmers since the inception of the scheme in 1975? There is no doubt of its value, no question about it, and it should be encouraged and enhanced in future by further development.
Nutritional information is also extremely important and various other references which have been made in the course of the papers which have been circulated to us. Our representative to the Forty-sixth Session of the Programme Committee had found paragraph 3 of the Policy as proposed by the Organization a little ambiguous, and so we had proposed instead of the present text that the sentence be modified to read as below:
“Input to AGRIS Data Base Policy shall be provided free of charge. Participating centres shall share with FAO any copyright or any other exclusive rights that they may have over their input. Copyrights or other rights over the cumulative impact provided by all centres shall be exercised by FAO in the interest of all the participants.”
I would suggest that the original clause which reads: “inputs to AGRIS data shall be provided free of charge. Participating centres renounce in favour of FAO any copyright or other exclusive rights that they may have over the material they supply. Such exclusive rights should be exercised by the FAO in the interests of all the participants in the AGRIS.” Instead of that I propose what I have just read out. It will I think make the issue more clear.
Coming to the document which, as I said, is of greater value, I would begin by noting that the references made to agriculture, fisheries and forestry have the recommendation of the Committee which we wholeheartedly endorse; the recommendations of the Committee as detailed here. There are a few points which I would like to stress and I would like to begin with those on the forestry side.
The ecology movement must proceed hand in hand with the movement for peace and the fight against economic backwardness. AGRIS could also help in the propagation of this. The process of cleaning and gleaning should be emphasized in the AGRIS organization, the process of cleaning and gleaning, as a working slogan for our environmental intactness for which we are trying to create consciousness. The world of environmental forestry knows no distinctions because the trees never quarrel, Mr Chairman, they never resent each other as human beings sometimes do, they live in happy harmony and free of differences, so integrated by nature’s forces they never have intrigue whatever the myriad variety.
The main aspect of this is one of the points I would like to inquire into which is in paragraph 76 where a reference has been made to the starting of a forestry school which has not as yet materialized. I would be glad to know when this is proposed to be done, because our experience of forestry institutions has been very happy and the sooner that this is implemented it will be better for the developing countries.
In the Third World the forestry development strategy will require to ensure harmonization of the productive and social missions of the forest with environmental balance, and here also increased attention will require to be paid to this necessity for the Third World. The general public require to be made fully aware of the imperative need for the preservation of our forests. To what extent is AGRIS assisting in these information sources through national and multinational mass media deliberate action to better inform the decision makers and political leaders through a variety of measures like seminars, scientific symposia, relevant exhibitions, establishment of modern areas under management and administration of possibilities, not only to improve and redevelop the forests but also on how forest resources contribute to social economic development maintenance of environmental balance.
I think in this AGRIS might be of considerable assistance with the vast wealth of information which it has accumulated at its command. The deepening understanding of the fundamentals of forest conservation and treatment by means of specific training seminars for teachers at general education level and increased consideration of these questions in the curricula is to spread knowledge about forest ecology and the hazards they are exposed to, particularly among the youth. Here I also feel that AGRIS can be of substantial assistance in special efforts to raise the level in technical training and advanced education, and to create additional training centres in those parts of the world where qualified foresters are wanting. In this AGRIS also might be able to penetrate such areas as well, so that where there is a shortage of foresters AGRIS could provide the necessary educational requirements. Special consideration for intensified transfer of knowledge from industrialized countries to countries of the Third World, here also FAO could play a leading part. The distribution of well documented films and videos to bring the message of AGRIS home. Perhaps AGRIS itself may not be making out the films or videos, but based on the information which it has it could be utilized for the purpose. The intensification of studies and causes and effects of forest destruction and elaboration of strategies and forest management assistance which could ensure the perpetuation of forests. I do not know to what extent AGRIS has cultivated this side of its studies.
The creation of legal prerequisites are necessary in order to prevent further destruction of the forests and to the conclusion of international conventions containing defined and well-timed programmes for the future protection of forests, because it is definitely of great economic wealth of indispensable value to the world. More rigorous criteria for examination of projects such as industrial projects pertaining to power plants road construction, regulation of waters, clearing of forestland, and as I said the other day, these could be undertaken without any destruction of forests, development without destruction. The development and application of exploitation technologies which are ecologically harmless to forests, and pay special attention to the reduction of waste and conservation of wood in areas where there is a shortage of wood. Here also the AGRIS machinery could find out through its research resources how it could be done. The main thrust should be on production forestry to meet industrial requirements, and of social forestry which has been referred to in the document at some length for meeting energy requirements and household needs also, particularly in rural areas. The buoyancy of this sector cannot be over stressed. It has been fully testified by a number of international agencies led by FAO, There has been spectacular progress which I think that we have been able to show in the 20 point programme started by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in India, as a result of which over 500 000 hectares have been covered under social
forestry, and 12 hundred million seedlings were distributed under farm forestry. So I consider that social forestry and farm forestry are of most value in the promotion of forestry resources and utilization. The programme through AGRIS could be undertaken for “save trees and grow trees” .
Coming to the agricultural side which has also been exposed in this paper, agriculture and its allied occupations predominate the livelihood pattern of the rural people. In our country nearly 42 percent of the male workers are cultivators, 25 percent are agricultural labourers, 30 percent live on household industries and also on secondary and tertiary sectors.
We fully support the adoption of the report by the Council. We would urge FAO to take appropriate action on the recommendations of the Committee as expeditiously as possible. I would further add that the World Food Programme should be encouraged to include - and I am now coming to the fisheries side - the World Food Programme should be encouraged to include more fish projects in its food aid programme, and in the implementation of the triangular operation in fish projects in developing countries. Adequate finances and other resources - administrative, servicing, technical backstopping, should be provided to support regional fisheries bodies and associate them into the technical assistance project. This has also been mentioned in the paper and it could be further elaborated in its actions by AGRIS. Urgent jieeds to mobilize greater funds for regional collaboration are vital, because from the programme, Mr Chairman, which I see in the Committee’s recommendation, funds would certainly be required to undertake these regional collaborations to make fisheries a success. Studies need to be undertaken for investment identification. I am not quite sure and I would like to be enlightened whether FAO has already undertaken such investment studies.
There is a continuing need for certain improved management techniques. The FAO short-term multi-disciplinary missions have been extremely effective and I would like to compliment FAO for this in order to formulate national fisheries policies, plans and projects. They are now required in specific areas. Those areas include resource studies, enforcement of regulations, inland fisheries, surveys of unexploited resources, monitoring of exploited resources, stock assessment analysis, appropriate allocations between user groups, particularly small-scale and industrial fisheries, technical and economic studies, training needs especially for high level fisheries, administration at the regional and sub-regional and intermediary level. Mr Chairman, I mention these, because judging from this document which is so comprehensive, these steps will require to be undertaken in order to fulfill its purpose and mission.
The development of small-scale fisheries is another very important aspect. Special programmes should be developed, also for women, particularly in fish handling, processing, marketing and aquaculture. Aquaculture is now recognized as a potential tool for the rapid development and improvement of socio-economic conditions. The three main components to my mind are training, multi-disciplinary research and the development of information network, and I would like to know to what extent AGRIS can be of assistance in these different fields. For developing countries to increase benefits through infra and inter-regional trade in fish and fish products, efforts