1. The present report summarizes the major activities undertaken by FAO in the European Region during the biennium 1996-97. It concentrates on the main normative activities of direct interest and concern to the entire membership, and on operational activities, geared to assist the former centrally planned economies in formulating measures and institutional reforms for transition to market economies, and supporting their closer integration with the European Union and world markets.
2. The report includes the following sections:
3. The following is a brief summary of action taken on recommendations made at the 20th ERC that was presented during the last FAO Conference.
4. The biennium 1996-97 was marked by the completion of the restructuring and decentralisation exercise. The FAO programme of work and activities was geared to concentrate on the major priority programmes as approved by the FAO Conference at its Twenty-eighth session and follow-up to the World Food Summit.
5. The implementation of the programme took into consideration the major economic challenges and constraints of the CEE and CIS countries as well as the post-World Food Summit strategic framework and FAO’s mission statement for sustainable food security.
6. Land and environmental management issues have been a matter of major concern and priority to all the countries in the European Region. FAO has developed and successfully applied land resources information systems based on the Agro-ecological Zones (AEZ) methodology, supporting software packages and Geographic Information System (GIS) to assist Member Nations in finding rational solutions to various problems of land resources and land management for sustainable agricultural development. This includes issues linking land use outputs with other development goals in such areas as food production, crop diversification, soil fertility, soil erosion and soil pollution.
7. FAO has contributed to the formulation, publication and application of the joint FAO/PAP-RAC/UNEP "Guidelines for mapping and measurement of rainfall-induced erosion processes in the Mediterranean Coastal Areas", published in 1997. FAO actively participates in the Pan-European Soil Erosion Risk Assessment Working Group, has, since 1989, been a contributor/partner in a number of ongoing land resource inventories in Europe undertaken by the European Soils Bureau (ESB) and has undertaken joint activities on land use classification, databases and inventories with EUROSTAT and other institutions in Europe.
8. FAO has supported a national strategy for management of land drainage area (Estonia) and has organized a Seminar on Management of Drained Land with the participation of the three Baltic States. As a result of this assistance, a regional cooperation programme on drained land management will be formulated for the Baltic States. Assistance was also provided in the development of land resource information systems for sustainable land use and applications (Lithuania).
9. Workshops for decision-makers on remote sensing/GIS applications were initiated by FAO in 1990, and have been held at national and regional levels and mostly organized in cooperation with the European Space Agency (ESA). In this connection, national workshops were held in Romania in 1996 and in Bulgaria in 1997. A regional workshop was held in Azerbaijan in 1997.
10. Within the framework of the Global Plan of Action on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (PGRFA) adopted by the 4th International Technical Conference on Conservation and Sustainable Utilization of PGRFA, held in Leipzig, Germany in June 1996, assistance has been provided to the CEE countries in the region in rehabilitating and strengthening their seed production policies and related normative, regulatory and legislative systems. Furthermore, FAO has taken an active part in the Steering Committee of the Mediterranean Network on the Conservation, Identification and Use of Wild Plants (MEDUSA).
11. The 29th FAO Conference adopted the New Revised Text of the International Plant Protection Convention which was distributed to governments for acceptance or adherence. Governments signatory to the current Convention were invited to accept the amendments, while governments not yet signatory to the Convention were urged to adhere. The new Convention will come into force when two-thirds of the Members (71) have accepted the amendments. One important advantage of becoming a signatory is the ability to participate in international standard-setting in conformity with Article 3(4) of the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) Agreement. In adopting the revised text, the Conference also established interim measures. These include the establishment of an interim Commission on Phytosanitary Measures, the voluntary use of new phytosanitary certification formats, and the identification of official contact points. All governments were encouraged to identify their contact points and invited to attend the first meeting of the Commission scheduled to take place in the autumn of 1998.
12. The Conference also adopted two new international standards for phytosanitary measures: (i) Guidelines for Surveillance, and (ii) Export Certification System which were distributed to Governments. In addition, four draft standards have been circulated for review and consultation in countries: - Determination of Pest Status; - Guidelines for Pest Eradication Programmes; - Requirements for the Establishment of Pest Free Places of Production; and - Inspection Methodology.
13. European countries, including the European Commission (EC), have participated in and contributed to FAO activities related to the revision of FAO International Specifications for Plant Protection Products, and have played an active role in the five sessions of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) for an Internationally Legally Binding Instrument for the Application of Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade. As a result of the PIC, 22 harmful pesticides and five industrial chemicals have been banned or severely restricted in a number of countries and cannot be exported without the prior agreement of the importing countries.
14. Assistance was provided to Albania, Georgia and Lithuania to strengthen national capabilities in reorganizing and reorienting the seed production, processing and distribution towards the private sector as well as the agricultural research and plant breeding in order to respond to the needs of the farmers in a market economy environment.
15. Assistance was also provided in strengthening the national and regional capacity to control sunn pest infestation and to deal with the Western Corn Rootworm (WCR) problem through the development and implementation of short- and long-term control and containment measures (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Hungary, Romania, Turkey and Yugoslavia). Training in pesticide management was provided to the Baltic States.
16. Assistance has been provided in strengthening international links for the exchange of knowledge on management of improved grass-legume systems and in setting up a system for improving the flow of information on livestock feeding and pasture production from research stations to farmers. The governments of Bulgaria, Poland and Slovakia were assisted in the preparation of guidelines for the development of low-input feeding systems.
17. Within the Global Strategy for the Management of Farm Animal Genetic Resources (AnGR), national technical focal points have been assisted to develop their country networks and Action Plan. In this connection, a workshop is being supported and organized (to be held in Lithuania in June 1998) to develop an action plan for AnGR for North Europe in which representatives from the Nordic Countries, the Baltic States and Poland will participate.
18. Activities in this area are being coordinated with the country focal point for the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. Close technical coordination is being maintained between FAO and the European Association for Animal Production (EAAP).
19. Assistance has been provided at the national level to draw up animal breeding legislation and related by-laws compatible with regulations in EU countries (Slovakia) and in developing a medium-term Livestock Action Plan in readiness for accession to EU (Poland).
20. Activities under EMPRES (livestock component), are reported in ERC/98/3 (para. 37).
21. FAO has been formulating equipment standards for pesticide sprayers which were officially adopted by a Panel of Experts (Rome, April 1997). These standards have been distributed to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) which will be seeking FAO’s input in the preparation of standards for knapsack sprayers.
22. Farming systems development: Studies to analyse technical efficiency and economies of farm size have been undertaken and assistance to Moldova and Slovenia was provided to develop improved resource management and technology use at farm level.
23. Agricultural engineering: Technical assistance and backstopping have been provided to Albania in the implementation of a donor funded project in the area of farm mechanization.
24. Marketing: Assistance has been provided in the development of marketing services reflecting the increased role of the private sector, in supporting and facilitating the role of governments and in strengthening national capacity through training in marketing and agribusiness (Albania, Moldova, Slovenia, Turkey).
25. Rural finance: Assistance has been provided to two countries to improve availability of financial services in support of investment in agricultural food production, and in related services and in establishing guarantee funds to support credit-financed investment in agriculture (Slovenia and Poland).
26. Two major events have enhanced FAO’s activities in this field: (i) The FAO/WHO International Conference on Nutrition (ICN) (Rome, December 1992) with the adoption of a Plan of Action for Nutrition which included as part of its Strategies and Actions the protection of consumers through improved food quality and safety; and (ii) the successful conclusion in 1993 of the Uruguay Round of meetings on the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in which two important international agreements were reached - the WTO Agreement on Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) and the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT). Both agreements are relevant to the work of the Codex Alimentarius Commission and have an impact on national food quality and safety programmes.
27. The ICN has encouraged and enhanced partnerships among development agencies particularly at the country level. At regional and subregional levels FAO, WHO and UNICEF are working together to strengthen technical cooperation, identify constraints and share experiences in the implementation of ICN recommendations. National Plans of Action on Nutrition (NPANs) are being developed in Armenia, Cyprus, France, Ireland, Slovakia, United Kingdom, Albania, Hungary, Italy and Spain. Draft documents have so far been provided to FAO by Armenia, France, Ireland and Slovakia. Belgium, Denmark, Germany and Romania have already finalized their NPANs.
28. An FAO/WHO Consultation on ICN follow-up in the European Region and countries of the Organization of Economic and Cooperative Development (OECD) was held in Warsaw, Poland in September 1996.
29. FAO/ESN activities have aimed at the generation and dissemination of reliable food composition data that meet the needs of national users, with particular emphasis on reducing costs and promoting international harmonization. Collaboration was established or further strengthened with several academic and research institutions across Europe.
30. A number of expert consultations have been held during the biennium in the European Region within the framework of the Codex Alimentarious Commission (CAC) on:
31. The 20th Session of the Codex Regional Coordinating Committee for Europe (CCEURO) (Stockholm, April 1996) discussed inter alia activities of Codex Contact Points and National Codex Committees in the Region. This was followed by a subregional workshop on the establishment and administration of Codex Contact Points (Budapest, March 1997) and a national workshop (Skopje, April 1997). Thirty-six European countries have established National Codex Contact Points.
32. Thirty-eight European countries are now members of the Codex Alimentarius Commission with Georgia and Moldova having recently become members.
33. In 1996, an expert from the Region visited some CEE countries to assist in establishing a network on food composition programmes for Eastern European countries and in preparing FAO’s contribution for a training course at regional level on the preparation of food composition tables.
34. Assistance has been provided to a number of countries in the Region with a view to (i) expediting the introduction of modern food control laws together with the necessary supporting legislation (Armenia, Latvia, Malta, Romania), and (ii) establishing feed production standards (Lithuania). Issues associated with the level of competitiveness of the most important branches in the agricultural and food processing sectors, including food quality standards and food control systems have been and are being addressed in projects implemented during the biennium and on-going in the Region (Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Turkey).
35. A number of Regional Workshops have been organized in the Region focussing on the requirements to strengthen food safety and quality control systems, training in food import/export inspection and certification, and the application of food safety, animal/plant health, trade requirements (WTO Seminars on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreements in Prague - March 1996, Moscow - July 1996; FAO/ILSI Workshop on Food Safety and Quality Control Systems in Poland - November 1996, Hungary - December 1996; a two-week training programme in the application of Good Hygienic Practices/Good Manufacturing Practices and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) is being organized in Slovakia in May 1998 in which Slovakia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Romania and Malta will participate).
36. In the field of food composition, a Regional Meeting was held in Budapest in March 1997 in which participants from eight CEECs addressed the major issues relative to food composition activities in the region, and formulated recommendations useful for policy development at both central government and institutional levels.
37. Activities under this programme have been of a normative nature and have focussed on statistical methods and standards related to the preparation of relevant publications, e.g. Supplement to the Programme for the World Census of Agriculture 2000: Guidelines on Employment/Aquaculture. In addition, FAO participated and contributed to a number of meetings, e.g. FAO/ECE CES Study Group on Food and Agricultural Statistics in Europe, the ECE/EUROSTAT Work Sessions on Statistics, the FAO/OECD/EUROSTAT Working Group/Seminars on Agricultural Statistics.
38. The Global Information and Early Warning System’s (GIEWS) publications on Food Outlook and Foodcrops and Shortages, report on cereal production prospects and on the basic food supply situation in the CEE countries. Special reports are issued as warranted.
39. FAO/ESC has continued to service a number of intergovernmental commodity groups (IGG) in which countries of the European Region have participated actively. These included sessions of the IGGs on Bananas, Tea, Hard Fibres, Jute, Citrus and the Sub-Group on Hides and Skins.
40. In March 1997, the GIEWS participated in a UN inter-agency needs assessment mission in Bulgaria and a special report on the food and nutritional situation in the country was issued. Also in March 1997, during the early stages of the Albanian crisis, a Special Alert on the food and agriculture situation in the country was issued, as was the case for Kosovo in March 1998.
41. With regard to the CIS countries, under an EC-funded project, GIEWS intensively monitors the food supply situation in all 12 [ Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Moldova, Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan.] countries and publishes an annual special report summarizing the major developments in agricultural production, trade and marketing, and makes early forecasts of cereal production and import/food aid requirements. In this connection, GIEWS has carried out three major crop and food supply assessment missions in the Region (Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia) the findings of which were published in the UN Consolidated Appeal for the Caucasus 1996-97. GIEWS missions visited the other CIS countries during the biennium to determine the 1996 harvest and 1996-97 aggregate CIS cereal import requirements. In carrying out these activities, GIEWS collaborated closely with field staff from WFP and EC.
42. Several countries in the Region, including Moldova, Slovenia and Turkey have been assisted in analysing trade related policy issues both in the context of WTO membership and in anticipation of their possible entry into the EU.
43. Activities under this programme are mainly of a normative nature. The State of Food and Agriculture (SOFA) annual report of FAO analysed current agricultural development policies in the CEECs and CIS, with special review of Belarus and Moldova (1996) and the Russian Federation (1997). The study Economies in transition: Hungary and Poland was published in the Economic and Social Development papers series.
44. As a result of the FAO/ECE Symposium on The role of agriculture in the transition process towards the market economy (1995), the proceedings of which were published in 1997, a comparative agricultural development study was launched in 1997 for Bulgaria, Poland and Slovakia. National research teams analyse the role and performance of the agricultural sector during the transition, according to a common methodological framework aimed at identifying short term effects of the transition shocks as against lasting changes in the path towards the market economy, and the implications for agricultural transition policies in the context of the overall economy.
45. Data was assembled and analysed on the role of off-farm income in the agricultural and rural economy of several European countries as a contribution to an on-going inter-regional study on farm/off-farm linkages for agricultural and rural development.
46. This programme continued to provide advisory services to support national efforts for fisheries development, including aquaculture, marine fishing, promotion of trade and fish marketing information, as well as strengthening regional and inter-country cooperation on fisheries resources research, survey and exploitation.
47. Within the framework of GLOBEFISH, market research activities are undertaken and medium term trend analysis for selected fisheries commodities provided to several fisheries institutions and fisheries authorities in Western European Member Nations. These institutions also have access to the GLOBEFISH data bank, which stores a vast range of specific time series, market related information and data on fisheries commodities and the fishery industry, which can be used for longer term sector analysis and planning. They include the European Commission (DG-XIV-Fisheries), the Ministries for Fisheries of Denmark and Spain and the Export Councils responsible for fishery products of Iceland and Norway.
48. EASTFISH, a network which has the purpose of facilitating the structural adjustment of the fishery sector in the seventeen CEE and CIS participating countries by providing: (i) market information; (ii) managerial expertise; (iii) training in business procedures; (iv) preparation of investment proposals; and (v) technical advice and assistance in quality assurance and production of fishery products for export, has been established with funding from the Government of Denmark. The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 1996 was completed and issued.
49. Assistance has been provided at the national level in the rehabilitation and development of inland aquaculture, in introducing a fisheries monitoring system to allow daily monitoring of the marine fisheries sub-sector (Bulgaria, Croatia and Cyprus), and in strengthening the planning and managing capabilities with regard to migrating sea salmon (Lithuania).
50. The forestry programme in Europe is implemented in conjunction with ECE, and is guided by the FAO European Forestry Commission and the ECE Timber Committee and their subsidiary bodies. Priorities have been directed to (i) studies on supply and demand of forest derived goods and services (European Timber Trends and Prospects and related studies); (ii) repeated forest resources assessments for the developed countries; (iii) statistics on production and trade regarding forest and forest industry products and on forest health; and (iv) promoting sustainable forest management.
51. FAO assisted the Turkish Government in the organization of the 11th World Forestry Congress held in Antalya, Turkey in October 1997, the general theme of which was "Forestry for Sustainable Development: Towards the Twenty-first Century". It discussed the future of world forests, made a number of action oriented recommendations and adopted the Antalya Declaration.
52. FAO has been designated Task Manager of Agenda 21-Chapter 13 Managing Fragile Ecosystems: Sustainable Mountain Development and has participated actively in networking activities through the Mountain Forum and by establishing the FAO Mountain Programme. The European Inter-Governmental process in the implementation of Chapter 13 was facilitated through the organization of two Inter-Governmental consultations on sustainable mountain development (April 1996 in Aviemore, Scotland and in July 1996 in Trento, Italy), involving 33 European countries and the EC. The consultations aimed at working towards an integrated policy framework for sustainable mountain development in Europe.
53. FAO initiated and supported the European Non-Governmental Conference on Sustainable Mountain Development (Toulouse, France, July 1996) which recommended the adoption of an interdisciplinary approach to the management of mountainous regions.
54. FAO has been directly involved in the establishment of the Mountain Forum at the global level and in certain regions. The European Node of the Mountain Forum will be located at the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Headquarters in Switzerland. Sub-regional nodes were established during 1997 for the Caucasus and Carpathian mountains and are under planning for the Alps, the Pyrenees and Cantabrican mountains, and northern Europe.
55. Under the "Wood Energy Today for Tomorrow (WETT)" series, FAO published in March 1997 the study "The role of wood energy in Europe and the OECD".
56. A seminar and study tour on Environmentally Sound Forest Operations was organized in Austria (April 1996) the objectives of which were to familiarize high level Romanian forest managers and researchers with advanced forest operations supporting sustainable forest management.
57. Assistance has been provided to countries in the Region in forestry sector development and identification of priorities for investment, on establishing organisational structures and developing appropriate policy, legal and institutional instruments to support the evolution of private forestry, and to develop modern forest fire prevention and control strategies (Albania, Armenia, Romania, Slovakia, Turkey). Emergency assistance was provided for the control of pest infestation in the forestry sector (Bulgaria). Assistance is also being provided in establishing a Forestry Action Plan (Cyprus).
58. A survey was conducted on the evolution of private forestry and the need for support services in 10 CEE countries which revealed that an on-going shift in forest ownership patterns has resulted in the emergence of new challenges that must be met for effective sustainable and equitable forest management.
59. Sustainable agricultural development (SAD) remains a cornerstone of world food security also in a Region where many countries produce a surplus of some agricultural products. The heterogeneity of European countries with respect to their national policies, levels of development, natural resource endowment, agricultural systems, etc., is responsible for the difficulty in implementing a unified SAD agenda. While EU Member States have fewer problems with short-term production and technology improvements, CEE countries, in general, still have an important need for long- and short-term production improvements. The current shift to more privately supported agricultural research will likely result in the focus on more short-term objectives. SAD however also requires sound long-term strategies, founded on a reliable knowledge base. In this context, information flow and exchange and interdisciplinary collaboration are of rapidly growing importance. The European System of Cooperative Research Networks in Agriculture (ESCORENA), designed and evolved to promote information flow and exchange of experience is at this time more relevant than ever before.
60. During the last biennium, more than 2200 scientists from over 350 institutions from almost all European countries continued to contribute to the successful implementation of ESCORENA’s objectives through more than 56 meetings and technical workshops.
61. ESCORENA, through WAICENT and in collaboration with other institutions, is adopting new information tools for more effective communication between its member institutions and to the research community and public as a whole. Fourteen volumes of the REU Technical Series were published in 1996 and 1997. Eight network newsletters are regularly produced in addition to many other network publications which are published in collaboration between FAO and other institutions. More and more of these documents are also available through the REU web pages on the Internet.
62. A significant event in 1997 was the Expert Roundtable on Biological Farming Research in Europe. The resulting initiative on developing guidelines for research methodologies in organic farming found a very positive response from private and public institutions, filling an important gap and contributing to the development of sustainable agriculture production methods in Europe and elsewhere.
63. The European Research Networks’ Advisory Board (ERNAC) is currently preparing a report on future priorities of ESCORENA including recommendations for possible adjustment in the functioning of the System.
64. In 1997, a study of the "State of the Art of Biotechnology in Central and Eastern European Countries" was undertaken as a basis on which to identify and prioritise FAO’s support to biotechnology in CEE countries in the current biennium. Based on this study, a report has been prepared on the current status of biotechnology research in nineteen CEECs, including recommendations for follow-up support by FAO.
65. Two workshops were organized in 1997 under the Czech Republic Trust Fund and in cooperation with Czech officials: (i) on improving the teaching and learning of agricultural economics at the university level in Central and Eastern Europe, which brought together university professors from sixteen countries from Western, Central and Eastern Europe; (ii) on the privatization of agricultural production in Central and Eastern Europe with thirty-five agricultural producers and representatives from the public and private sector from ten countries.
66. FAO has been involved in the International Seminar for the Promotion of Rural Youth in collaboration with the German Government for over 35 years. The Seminar held at the Bavarian Farmers Training Centre in Herrsching every two years has provided over the years training experience for over 1 200 professional rural youth workers from around the world. In 1996, 109 professional rural youth workers from 67 different countries participated in the three-week seminar.
67. FAO participated in a multi-country technical meeting on Participatory Action Research on Extension, held at Wageningen (the Netherlands) and attended by several European countries.
68. A workshop addressing agricultural extension needs of countries in transition was held in Slovakia (September 1997) with participants from Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.
69. Assistance is being provided in elaborating concrete proposals and guidelines aimed at increasing the efficiency of the middle level agricultural education system. Particular emphasis is being placed on preparing a qualified workforce to support the economic reforms carried out in their country and to compete on local, regional and international markets (Slovenia).
70. As follow-up to the Platform of Action adopted by the Fourth World Conference on Women (Beijing) and within FAO’s own framework for the implementation of the Plan of Action for Women in Development, a third workshop was organized in Slovenia (October 1997) to continue the process of assisting Member Nations in developing and implementing action plans for rural women’s integration in national development policies. In preparation for the workshop in Slovenia, the action plans for Hungary and Slovenia, developed at the previous workshops (Hungary, 1995 and the Netherlands, 1996), were published as a training tool to assist other countries in developing their own national plans.
71. Activities have also focussed on the introduction of the SEAGA (Socio-Economic and Gender Analysis) programme to various countries to build gender expertise in the Region.
72. FAO sponsored the "High-level Technical Seminar on Private and Public Sector Cooperation in National Land Tenure Development" (Bertinoro, April 1997) the objective of which was to review the role of the private sector in developing rural land markets and effective administration. The Seminar was attended by Heads of national agencies dealing with land administration from twelve CEE countries (including the Russian Federation and Ukraine). In view of the Seminar’s success, it will be replicated in September 1998 for the Member Nations bordering the Black Sea.
73. In the area of rural cooperatives, a National Training of Trainers Workshop on Cooperative Membership Development was organized by FAO and held in Ljubljana (Slovenia) in April 1997. The Workshop was attended by resource persons, under FAO’s Agreement Concerning the Use of Experts for Technical Cooperation among Countries in Transition (TCCT) from Albania, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia. The main recommendations of the Workshop were that there was a need to (i) improve both the corporate image of the cooperative movement and cooperative business activities; (ii) strengthen cooperative membership relations; (iii) ensure increased commitment by cooperative members; (iv) improve related training at all levels in order to set up viable agricultural cooperatives; and (iv) improve related legislation.
74. Assistance is being provided at the national level in the development of land evaluation and taxation methodology and in setting up a land cadastre system (Slovenia).
75. The activities under this programme are mainly of an operational nature and focus on providing assistance in the analysis of constraints to rural development and food security and in the formulation of national programmes to make sustainable progress towards rural development and food security objectives, including the development of rehabilitation programmes in the aftermath of complex emergencies and in the programming and coordination of resources made available for these purposes from internal and external sources. Activities are carried out by the Policy Assistance Branches/Units in the decentralized structures. During the biennium under review, the Policy Assistance Branch in REU with the Policy Assistance Unit in SEU has been providing assistance to countries in the Region in formulating long-term agricultural and rural strategies (Estonia/Slovakia) and grain policy and programme strategies (Moldova), in developing policies and instruments to fulfil international obligations and commitments in relation to the EU Customs Union (in the case of Turkey) and EU agreements in view of EU accession (Slovenia). In response to increasing demands from Member Nations in the Region, a number of similar projects have been formulated in 1997 of which implementation will start in the very near future (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria and Malta). Requests for assistance in the formulation of agricultural sector strategies have been received from Armenia, Azerbaijan and TFYR of Macedonia. REUP and SEUP have also been involved in the constraints analysis components of the Special Programme for Food Security in the Region.
76. The programme is also responsible in providing assistance to Member Nations for strengthening their capacity in food and agriculture policy and planning. To this end, a number of projects have been implemented in the Region, e.g. "Training in Agricultural Project Planning and Policy Analysis"(Slovakia); "Training for Capacity Building in the Agricultural Sector" (Georgia); "Training of Trainers in Formulation, Implementation, Monitoring and Evaluation of Technical Cooperation Projects" (Turkey).
77. The programme is designed to improve the legal and institutional framework for agricultural development and natural resource management in Member Nations. A number of activities have taken place in the Region providing assistance in reviewing or updating legislations (seeds, forestry and fisheries) and regulations (food laws).
78. Since a Memorandum of Understanding was signed in early 1997 between the Director-General and the President of the World Bank, collaboration between the two organizations has taken on new dimensions. Besides investment preparation work, as carried out by the Investment Centre Division, technical divisions and units throughout the house are being increasingly engaged in joint activities at both headquarters and decentralized levels.
79. Much of the renewed relationship revolves around FAO’s SPFS reflecting a shared priority between FAO and the Bank in assisting common member low-income food-deficit countries (LIFDCs) to tackle problems of domestic food production and supply in the face of rural poverty and pressure on natural resources.
80. During the 1996-97 biennium, 13 investment projects in Europe prepared with major Investment Centre input were approved for financing by cooperating financing institutions. Total investments mobilised for these projects amount to US$ 411 million, including US$ 278 million in external loans, mainly from the World Bank (11 projects) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) (2 projects). During the biennium, the Investment Centre assisted in the formulation of some 10 agricultural investment projects in 8 European countries and preparation work has been completed for 7 of these projects.
81. On 13 October 1997, a Framework Agreement for Operational Services between FAO and EBRD was signed in London. The Agreement will strengthen the cooperation between the two institutions by significantly streamlining contracting procedures.
82. This major programme covers primarily the work of the Field Operations Division (TCO) at its regional operations branches and at Headquarters where the operational support is provided for projects in the European Region. During the biennium, the following projects were operational: 49 TCP at national level; 4 TCP at regional level; 13 projects (of which 4 regional) under extrabudgetary funds (excluding emergency projects mentioned below).
83. The major programme also includes FAO’s response to emergency situations through its Special Relief Operations Service (TCOR). During 1996, TCOR was responsible for the implementation of a number of emergency projects in Bosnia and Herzegovina (totalling approximately US$ 10.1 million) under extrabudgetary resources (mainly UNHCR, UNDP, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway). Two emergency projects were also implemented in Azerbaijan (Emergency Assistance to Internally Displaced Families in Establishing Sheep Production) and Georgia (Emergency Supply of Agricultural Inputs for the 1996 Autumn Planting Season) under funding from the Netherlands.
84. Pursuant to Resolution 3/97 by which the 29th Session of the FAO Conference endorsed the Director-General’s decision to establish a Special Fund to receive the proceeds collected through the TeleFood appeal, the proceeds of which will be used for the purpose of financing concrete grassroot-level projects to help poor farming families in developing countries and in countries in transition to produce more food, four such grassroot-level projects have been approved in the European Region (three for Armenia and one for Turkey) and two others are in the pipeline (one for Latvia and one for Bosnia and Herzegovina).
85. The European Region is of immense economic and agricultural importance. The Region has a population of over 600 million people; it contains much of the world’s oldest continuously cultivated land; it embraces a total cultivated area of 170 million hectares with 76 million people engaged in cultivating this land. It is an heterogeneous region containing several of the most highly developed countries in the world and in many cases with highly efficient and protected agriculture; it also includes some low-income food-deficit countries (LIFDCs) as well as Small Island States. Several of the 41 Member Nations of the Region with basically traditional agricultural economies are still in the process of economic transition from centrally planned to market economies.
86. Since its founding, FAO has had three main functions: (i) a neutral forum; (ii) a collector, processor and disseminator of information; and (iii) provider of technical assistance. These functions have been consistently recognized as relevant by its Member Nations. In view of the diversity of membership in the European Region, FAO’s substantive output would need to be balanced in order to remain relevant to all countries.
87. Of interest to all members will be programmes and activities related to conservation and management of plant genetic resources; food quality control and consumer protection; promotion of efficient, sustainable and responsible fisheries and forest management; collection, analysis and dissemination of commodity production and trade information and outlook; and global forest resources assessment.
88. A number of the less privileged members of the Region are facing challenges in their agricultural development due to their recent opening to world markets and international competition. FAO will therefore be required to give due priority to those countries likely to require direct assistance in tackling their pressing problems of structural and institutional reform and food and agricultural development. For some of them assistance will also be required to support their closer integration with the EU and greater participation in the international economic system.
89. Such assistance would be particularly important as agriculture in CEE and CIS countries suffered a period of decline during the first years of reforms, which in some cases persisted through 1997. Most analyses explain the decline as a result of five factors: (i) the sharp changes in input costs relative to farm product prices; (ii) the effect of land reform and farm restructuring; (iii) the collapse in investment and the lack of rural credit institutions; (iv) the contraction of domestic and regional demand due to the fall in real incomes; and (v) the disincentive effects of unstable price and trade policy.
90. In view of the above, the following specific challenges in the sub-region have been identified:
- property rights and markets in land and farm restructuring;
- agricultural commodities, input price and trade policy;
- the input supply and agroprocessing industries;
- the rural finance system;
- agricultural education, research and extension systems;
- sustainability of agricultural systems and resources;
- rural development and gender issues;
- consumer and food health issues.
91. FAO will therefore continue supporting, within the limited resources available, and at the request of Member Nations, efforts to address these challenges.
92. In this endeavour, FAO will seek enhanced cooperation with other traditional and new development partners. While there has been a marked and welcome improvement in cooperation with other institutions in the Region during the past biennium, particularly with the UNDP and the World Bank in connection with the implementation of SPFS, as well as with the EBRD, the WFP, IFAD and the OECD, there is scope for increasing cooperation with the EC programmes for the CEE and CIS countries.