List of Documents

NERC/00/1-Rev 1 Revised Agenda
NERC/00/2 Report of FAO Activities in the Region (1998-99), and Action Taken on the Main Recommendations of the Twenty-Fourth Regional Conference
NERC/00/3 Report on the World Food Summit Follow-up
NERC/00/4 Towards a Strategic Framework for the Sustainable Agricultural Development in the Near East
NERC/00/5 Animal Health Forum for the Near East

NERC/00/INF/1 Information Note
NERC/00/INF/2 Timetable
NERC/00/INF/3 List of Documents
NERC/00/INF/4 Statement by the Director-General
NERC/00/INF/5 Progress Report on Reactivating the FAO Near East Cooperative Programme (NECP)
NERC/00/INF/6 Review of the Progress at the WTO Multinational Trade Negotiations in Agriculture
NERC/00/INF/7 Household Nutrition Security and Education
NERC/00/INF/8 Representation of the Region on the CGIAR





Mr. President of the Council of Ministers,
Distinguished Ministers,
Ladies and Gentlemen,


It is a great pleasure for me to welcome you to the Twenty-fifth FAO Regional Conference for the Near East, which, after 38 years, is once again being held in Lebanon, at the kind invitation of the Government. I should like to express, on behalf of all the delegations and the staff of FAO, our sincere gratitude to His Excellency President Emile Lahoud and to the Government and people of Lebanon for their warm welcome and generous hospitality. Lebanon, with its age-long history, glorious civilization and agricultural tradition, has, under difficult conditions, been able to make significant progress in all spheres of economic activity, and notably in agricultural development.

I should like to thank in particular His Excellency the President of the Council of Ministers for honoring us with his presence at this opening ceremony.


Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The world is undergoing a rapid pace of globalization, and inter-dependence with borders increasingly opened economically.

The estimates for world cereal production in 1999 have recently been revised upwards and now stand at 1872 million tonnes. This is, however, one percent down from 1998, and two percent down from 1997, which was a particularly good year. The only expected increase is for rice, while wheat and other cereal harvests will be lower. For the first time in four years, projected cereal consumption will exceed production. This will require a draw-down of 8 million tonnes from stocks which will therefore amount to 334 million tonnes. Such a level guarantees a stock-to-utilization ratio within the safety margin of 17 to 18 percent.

For these reasons, the 1999/2000 marketing season could register an increase of over three percent in world cereal trade, equivalent to a volume of 222 million tonnes. Yet, cereal prices on world markets are generally lower than last year, a positive factor for the 82 low-income food-deficit countries.

We can also observe an encouraging sign in the fisheries sector, which registered a partial recovery in output in 1999 after the heavy falls in production of the previous year.

But, the most positive factor is the indication in the FAO report on the State of Food Insecurity in the World of a reduction by 40 million, between 1990-92 and 1995-97, of the total number of malnourished people in the developing countries. This annual reduction of about 8 million people on average is encouraging, but it is far below the figure of 20 million required to achieve the objective of the World Food Summit.

(Emergency situations)

Against such a global picture, 35 countries have been faced with food emergencies. At the end of 1999, the number of people affected by food emergencies resulting primarily from natural and man-made disasters was estimated at about 52 million. However, data indicate that their relative frequency has changed over the last thirty years. Whilst in the 1970s and 1980s food emergencies were mainly the result of natural factors, in more recent years man-made disasters have done nothing but increase, especially war, civil strife and financial and economic crises.

In Africa, the emergency situations arise in particular from civil strife and recurrent droughts, whilst in Asia, millions of people have seen their basic access to food eroded by declining purchasing power as several economies were devastated by the financial crisis in 1997/1998. In Latin America, many countries are still suffering from the devastation caused by El Niņo and Hurricane Mitch in 1998, and compounded by the torrential rains and floods of 1999. In addition, late last year, a severe cyclone and extensive floods in Venezuela. In the Near East, the worst drought in decades in 1999 seriously reduced food production in several countries. In this part of the world, in addition to weather fluctuations, the problem of access to water for food production will undoubtedly be the main cause of food supply problems in the future.

The role of FAO in such a context is more important than ever, primarily in assessing the food and agriculture situation, determining food aid needs and informing the international community, thanks to the Global Information and Early Warning System of FAO, which is working together with the World Food Programme, the UNDP and an extensive network of governmental and non-governmental organizations.

Emergency situations also require FAO to revive agricultural production by evaluating needs, in cooperation with other UN agencies in the framework of consolidated appeals for humanitarian assistance and, especially, by providing direct assistance to farmers. In 1999, agricultural assistance implemented by FAO in the Near East amounted to about 132 million dollars, serving 10 countries. This translates as the supply to affected farming communities of agricultural essentials such as seeds, tools, fertilizers, fishing gear and livestock, as well as veterinary supplies. This assistance has been carried out in response to natural disasters, notably the severe drought that last year hit several countries in the Region; the floods and the earthquakes. The Organization has also provided help to farmers suffering from human-induced disruption.

(Other "crises")

But the world is also increasingly faced with other "crises". These relate to the quality and especially the safety of food products, and to the impact of new agricultural techniques, resulting mainly from rapid advances in biotechnology. Recent problems facing governments have included the "mad cow" crisis, the presence of dioxins and listeria in the food chain as well as the marketing of products containing genetically modified organisms.

This is an area where FAO will undoubtedly be called upon to play a greater role. Public opinion, sensitized by the media, wants objective information on possible risks and requires effective measures of protection. While such "crises" have occurred in developed countries, they create concern for the authorities and the populations of developing countries that do not have sufficient capacity of analysis.

The Organization must continue to respond to these challenges and demands. Its appropriate bodies, such as the Commission on Genetic Resources, are actively working on the drafting of codes of conduct. An inter-departmental programme has been initiated to deal with all technical aspects of the issues. The programmes of the Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques for Food and Agriculture will be reinforced to increase their contribution in these areas. As for questions of ethics, these are being examined by an internal committee supported by a panel of experts. Finally, the Codex Alimentarius remains the leading instrument for determining international standards - a crucial activity in a context of globalization and growing trade.

While recognizing the importance and urgency of these issues, FAO must nevertheless concentrate on ensuring that information provided is scientifically based and established by internationally recognized experts.

(State of food and agriculture in the Near East Region)

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I wish now to focus on the Near East Region. The Region is becoming increasingly more dependent on food imports particularly cereals, dairy products, sugar and vegetable oil. Most countries of the Region have pursued in 1998 and 1999, with varying degrees of intensity, programmes of reform, especially macro-economic reform, and agricultural market liberalization and deregulation policies. In addition, an economic cooperation endeavor took place through the establishment of the Arab Free Trade Area (AFTA) which was signed by 18 countries in 1998. The main objective of AFTA is trade liberalization for encouragement and promotion of intra-regional trade through the gradual reduction of tariffs, reaching the target of 19 per cent after ten years. In addition, several Mediterranean countries have concluded trade agreements with the European Union.

Agricultural production in the Region has been seriously affected by a number of internal and external factors particularly natural hazards, civil strife, wars and climatic changes. The two devastating droughts that hit several countries of the Region in 1997 and 1999 impacted negatively on agricultural and livestock production.

Since 1997, FAO has implemented the agricultural component of the Oil-for-Food Programme in Iraq with original allocation of 46.15 million dollars. In 1999, FAO was entrusted with implementing the same agricultural component worth of 128.4 million dollars in the three northern Governorates of Iraq. Such responsibility included international procurement, as well as distribution with equity to beneficiaries of a wide variety of inputs in all sub-sectors of agriculture and livestock in the country. In addition, FAO is executing assistance projects in Iraq funded by the donor community, UNDP and FAO's Technical Co-operation Programme for the control of animal diseases and the aerial control of crop pests as well as for increasing seed and honey production in the whole country.

Almost all easily accessible conventional water resources in this Region have already been committed; therefore the future emphasis must be directed to increasing the efficiency of water management systems, as well as to move seriously towards tapping new non-conventional water resources to be utilized for increasing agricultural production. Water policies in the Region are increasingly, but slowly, being reformed towards enhanced water demand management. This implies the promotion of satisfactory operation and maintenance by institutions in order to ensure conservation and quality, but it also means addressing the crucial issue of attaching some economic value to water use in agriculture. Every effort ought to be paid to increase the stakeholders' participation in the responsible water management decisions, in order to utilize water more efficiently.

Only in few countries of the Region are agricultural exports important sources of foreign exchange earnings. Generally, exports of agricultural commodities assume a limited role in the total value of the Region's exports - averaging only about 6 percent of the total exports - and consist mainly of fish, fruits, vegetables and cotton. On the other hand, the value of agricultural imports has continued to be as high as thrice the value of exports. Intra-regional trade remains low - not more than 8 per cent of the total foreign trade - stagnating at this level for several years.

(Highlights of FAO activities in the Near East Region)

The food security situation continues to be of concern to many countries of the Region. In spite of the commendable efforts of several countries, notably with the support of FAO, the situation remains serious. In this connection, the Organization has assisted countries in the Region to focus on a number of major food and agricultural production improvements - particularly in the areas of water management, yield increases and more equitable accessibility of food to the majority of the peoples.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Special Programme for Food Security

As you know, FAO launched the Special Programme for Food Security in 1994 after its unanimous approval by the Council. The Programme is designed to assist low-income food-deficit countries to rapidly increase food production and productivity on a sustainable basis, reduce the year-to-year variability of production, and improve access to food, as a contribution to equity and poverty alleviation. To date, over 75 developing countries have requested to participate in the Programme. The lessons learned and results obtained so far have led to the extension of on-going country programmes and a rapid incorporation of new countries. I am pleased to report that by January 2000, the Programme was operational in 55 countries, including 5 countries in the Near East.

Within the context of the Special Programme for Food Security, the Organization has followed up with the implementation of the trilateral cooperation among Near Eastern countries, other developing countries and FAO, in accordance with the provisions of the South-South Cooperation initiative.

Training programme for multilateral trade negotiations

FAO has also continued its efforts in supporting countries of the Region to assess the implications of the World Trade Organization trade negotiations on agricultural development and achieving sustainable food security. Some 14 countries of the Region are presently members of the WTO, and six others have applied for membership. As most of the countries in the Region are relatively dependent on trade, there is a growing need to understand the forces that influence international trade in agriculture. Yet, most countries of the Region still do not have the capacity to meet effectively the challenges or take advantage of the opportunities flowing from the Uruguay Round Agreements while also preparing themselves for the next round of multilateral trade negotiations.

FAO has been providing technical assistance to several countries of the Region on formulating and implementing their national commodity policies and programmes. Recently, FAO has launched an "Umbrella Programme for Training on Uruguay Round and Future Multilateral Trade Negotiations on Agriculture", and organized 14 sub-regional training workshops, two for the Near East Region: the first was held in Cairo in September 1999, and the second is scheduled for May 2000 in Muscat.

Meanwhile, FAO continues to provide information on and make assessments of the global market situation and the outlook for some 80 agricultural commodities.

Food insecurity and vulnerability information and mapping system

A vast effort is also under way to establish the Food Insecurity and Vulnerability Information and Mapping System, as decided at the World Food Summit. This system is being set up at international and particularly national level, with the full cooperation of United Nations system partners within the framework of an inter-agency committee. The system contributes to the design and implementation of appropriate policies and programmes to combat poverty and food insecurity. Two countries in the Region have already requested assistance in establishing national systems.

Regional Economic and Technical Cooperation

FAO supports and encourages collective action in dealing with common problems and joint utilization of resources for the mutual benefits of all countries concerned. It has thus encouraged the development of regional projects and the establishment of networks and associations of agricultural institutions for the promotion of technical cooperation and the exchange of experience and information. The Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries provides one such framework for promotion of cooperation based on mutuality of interests, shared benefits and interdependence. In this context, FAO has continued to strengthen efforts for collaboration with international, bilateral, multi-lateral donors and regional specialized funding agencies such as the Islamic Development Bank, Arab Fund for Social Economic Development and other regional and national development funds. FAO will continue its efforts in this direction.

Regional Strategies for Agricultural Development and Food Security

The Organization has steadily expanded its co-operation with Regional and Sub-Regional Economic Groupings of developing countries and countries with economics in transition. In this context and in collaboration with the relevant regional and sub-regional institutions, it is elaborating regional strategies for agricultural development and food security designed to promote sustainable agricultural and food production, better access to food, food safety, and the enhancement of trade in food and agricultural products. Each regional strategy draws extensively on the findings, conclusions and recommendations in the Strategies for National Agricultural Development - Horizon 2010 which were prepared in follow-up to the World Food Summit.


Within the framework of World Food Day, FAO launched TeleFood in 1997 which is a global campaign to raise public awareness of the plight of the 790 million hungry people in the world. It also helps to raise funds to finance small-scale projects aimed at improving the productivity and living standards of rural poor farmers in developing countries. Since then many national media outlets of Member Nations of the Region, especially satellite channels, have joined hands with FAO in promoting TeleFood's objectives. At the regional level, Arab Radio and Television (ART) and the Arab News Network (ANN) were among the leading Pan-Arab operators that have promoted the goals of TeleFood in this Region. A very successful celebrity auction organized by FAO and ART was held in Cairo on 19 October, 1999.

TeleFood funded projects are currently being implemented in at least 12 countries of the Near East Region. In addition, a number of project proposals are under preparation for implementation in the near future.

(Parallel meetings to the Twenty-fifth FAO Regional Conference)

I am pleased to point out that parallel to this Twenty-fifth Regional Conference, two other main gatherings of high relevance to the Region food security have been convened. The first is a forum for the regional non-governmental organizations and civil society, while the other is on intra-regional trade.

Non-governmental organizations play an important role in the rural and agricultural development of our Members Nations. The engagement of NGOs and civil society in the World Food Summit was much valued and added to the strength of the Plan of Action which in turn calls for collaborative efforts from all sectors of society to achieve the objectives set in Rome. Against this background, FAO decided to organize the NGO/Civil Society Consultation in parallel to its Regional Conferences with the view of benefiting from these active players' experiences in fields relevant to FAO mandate and to help the organization formulate its policy and strategy in cooperating with grass roots organizations. The recommendations of the NGO/Civil Society Consultation will be submitted to this body for consideration.

In conjunction with the Conference, there will be a consultation on intra-regional trade in the Near East. This consultation will focus on major issues relating to the fostering of cooperation among the countries of the Region to facilitate trade to bring about national agricultural development and food security.

(Agenda of the Regional Conference)

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen

This Twenty-fifth Regional Conference will examine the key issues relating to the fight against food insecurity and vulnerability, poverty and degradation of the natural resource base. The major issues on your agenda include:

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Your Regional Conference will have to take up the challenge of fighting hunger and poverty on the continent. I therefore await the outcome of your deliberations with great interest and wish you every success in your work.

Thank you.



March 2000





Beirut, Lebanon, 20-22 March 200


Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Regional Office for the Near East
Cairo 2000




Organization of the Meeting

1. The Senior Officers Meeting of the Twenty-fifth FAO Regional Conference for the Near East was held from 20 to 22 March 2000 in Beirut, Lebanon.

Inaugural Ceremony

2. The Meeting was inaugurated by Mr. Samir Abu Jawdeh, Director-General of the Green Plan, representing His Excellency Mr. Suleiman Franjieh, the Minister of Agriculture, Housing and Cooperatives in Lebanon. The Meeting was also addressed by Mr. Atif Bukhari, Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for the Near East. In attendance, there were 60 delegates from 20 countries, and 25 observers. The list of participants is given as Appendix B. The Meeting was also attended by representatives of regional institutions and UN organizations, and by correspondents from the news media.

3. Mr. Abu Jawdeh expressed his sincere thanks to FAO and its Regional Office for the Near East for the choice of Beirut as the site of the 25th FAO Regional Conference and its accompanying and preceding Meeting of Senior Officers. He stressed the need for strengthening economic cooperation among the countries of the Region in addressing the challenges of globalization and in achieving the goal of sustainable agricultural and rural development.

4. Mr. Atif Bukhari, Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for the Near East, in his Opening Statement thanked the Lebanese Government and the Ministry of Agriculture and its officials for their efforts and for the excellent arrangements made to facilitate the convening of the Regional Conference.

5. The Regional Representative pointed out the fact that the Senior Officers Meeting was held as part of the activities of the Regional Conference, and emphasized the meeting's role as a preparatory forum for the in-depth discussion of technical issues of concern to the Near East. He reviewed the Agenda of the Senior Officers' Meeting and expressed his hope that the Meeting would reach some positive recommendations for adoption by the Ministerial Meeting.

Election of the Chairman, Vice Chairmen and Appointment of the Rapporteur

6. The Meeting unanimously elected Mr. Samir Abu Jawdeh, Director-General of the Green Plan in Lebanon, as its Chairman and resolved that all other heads of delegations for the Senior Officers Meeting would be Vice-Chairmen. Mr. Mohamed Khalifah (Egypt) was appointed Rapporteur.

Adoption of the Agenda and Timetable

7. The Provisional Agenda (NERC/00/1) and Timetable (NERC/00/INF/2) were adopted, with two amendments: to consider Document NERC/00/INF/5, entitled "Progress Report on Reactivating the FAO Near East Cooperative Programme (NECP)", as a document for discussion; and to include a special session on "Intra-Regional Agricultural Trade in the Near East".


Follow-up of the World Food Summit

8. The Meeting commended FAO's diligent efforts in building on the success of the World Food Summit (WFS) of November 1996, which culminated in the adoption of the Rome Declaration on World Food Security and the WFS Plan of Action. The WFS aimed at furthering the promotion of global commitment for the elimination of hunger and malnutrition and for achieving sustainable food security for all people.

9. The Meeting reviewed Document NERC/00/3, "Report on the World Food Summit Follow-up", and recognized FAO's continued efforts in spearheading follow-up actions and its endeavors to support the implementation of the Summit's seven commitments. The Meeting noted with satisfaction that the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) had established its workplan for future monitoring, so as to conduct two complete cycles of review of implementation of the Summit Plan of Action prior to the mid-term review, scheduled for 2006, to evaluate the work progress towards reaching the target of halving the number of undernourished people by 2015.

10. The Meeting commended FAO for its continued active support to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) in implementing Objective 7.4 of the Plan of Action on the right to adequate food. A symposium was co-organized by the Administrative Coordination Committee (ACC)/Sub-Committee on Nutrition in April 1999 focusing on "The substance and politics of a human rights approach to food and nutrition policies and programmes". In May 1999, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights adopted a General Comment on the Right to Adequate Food.

11. The Meeting noted with appreciation that FAO's Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS) has been launched in eight Low-Income Food Deficit Countries (LIFDCs) in the Region, five of which were already operational by January 2000 (Egypt, Djibouti, Mauritania, Sudan and Syria). In all countries of the Region, the SPFS has been initiated by the national authorities to support the development of water utilization as a spearhead for increasing food production and distribution. FAO's continued positive response to all government requests to take part in the SPFS was also greatly appreciated. The Meeting recognized in particular the increased technical collaboration between several countries of the Region made possible by FAO's South-South Cooperation (SSC) initiative. Launched by the Director General in 1996 within the framework of the SPFS, the main objective of the SSC initiative is to allow recipient countries to benefit from the expertise accumulated by more advanced developing countries.

12. The Meeting welcomed the initiative taken by FAO to play a catalytic role in elaboration and definition of a Food Insecurity and Vulnerability Information and Mapping System (FIVIMS) in collaboration with concerned UN organizations, competent national institutions and non-governmental organizations. This Information System helps Member Countries, as well as the global community and FAO, to monitor the progress being made in meeting the targets set out by the WFS for reducing world hunger. The Meeting also welcomed with appreciation FAO's technical assistance to countries in the Region wishing to improve their food security information systems and to establish national FIVIMS units.

13. The Meeting commended the FAO Regional Office for the very successful TeleFood campaign, conducted in collaboration with leading satellite television operators in the Region, particularly the Celebrity Auction in support of TeleFood held in Cairo on 19 October 1999. Funds raised by the TeleFood campaign were to be used to finance small-scale projects aimed at improving the productivity and living standards of poor farmers. In the Near East, TeleFood funded projects were being implemented in Djibouti, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Kyrgyztan, Lebanon, Mauritania, Morocco, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Turkey and Yemen.

14. The Meeting recalled with satisfaction the valuable input provided by FAO in the preparation of the "Draft Strategies for National Agricultural Development - Horizon 2010" and welcomed FAO's recent initiative to hold one-day WFS follow-up workshops in all the countries for which a draft strategy has been prepared. These National Workshops would aim to update and amend the national strategies to ensure that the policies and programmes for sustainable food security at national and household level would remain consistent with the changing socio-economic and food security situation in each member country. These National Workshops, organized by respective governments, would be attended by all relevant Government officials, parliamentary commissions, actors of civil society, private sector, non-governmental organizations and other development partners.

15. The Meeting also welcomed with appreciation FAO's efforts to develop Regional Strategies for Agricultural Development and Food Security (RSADFS) for Regional Economic Groupings of developing countries. RSADFS had been prepared for the following Regional/Sub-regional economic groupings of relevance to Member Countries of the Near East: Arab Maghreb Union (AMU); Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC); Council of Arab Economic Unity (CAEU); Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA); Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO); Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS); Inter Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD); Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

16. The Meeting noted FAO's increased efforts in assisting countries of the Region in building development capacities and training national staff in food security and economic reform policies. Appreciation was particularly expressed for FAO's initiative and technical support in launching the "Near East and North Africa Regional Network for Agricultural Policies" (NENARNAP) to facilitate the exchange of information among Member Countries.

17. The Meeting called upon Member States to:

18. The Meeting requested FAO to:

Towards a Strategic Framework for Sustainable Agricultural Development in the Near East Region

19. The Meeting considered Document NERC/00/4, "Towards a Strategic Framework for Sustainable Agricultural Development in the Near East", and deliberated at length on various agricultural development issues in the Region. It was noted that most countries of the Region are currently pursuing, with varying degrees of intensity, economic reform programmes, including macroeconomic reforms, agricultural market and trade liberalization as well as privatization and deregulation policies. In spite of commendable reforms and substantial progress made by several countries, the food security situation continues to be of concern to many countries of the Region.

20. The Meeting noted that although most Near East countries have recorded significant expansion in agricultural production over the past decade, food production growth rates continue to be generally lower than population growth rates. In contrast, demand for food in the Region showed a steady annual growth rate of 3.2 per cent during the period 1980-1996, a rate similar to average population growth in the Region. The annual growth rate in the consumption of cereals averaged about 3 percent in the 1980's and 3.5 percent in the 1990's. This was mostly due to higher consumption of coarse grains for animal feed reflecting the dramatic increases in the consumption of livestock products, with meat per capita consumption increasing form about 15 kg in the 1970's to about 30 kg in the 1990's.

21. The Meeting noted that, with the exception of Turkey, all Near East countries are dependent on food imports with varying degrees. For the Region as whole, imports of cereals as a proportion of total annual consumption, expanded from 15 per cent in the early 1970's to 30 per cent in the 1990's. It was also noted that such dependence has been a cause of concern, economically and politically, to policy makers in most countries of the Region.

22. The Meeting recognized that scarcity of water constitutes the most formidable challenge to agriculture for the majority of the countries of the Region. It was noted that the present over use and degradation of water resources and growing competition from non-agriculture water users are expected to influence the availability of water for food production. Despite substantial scope for greater efficiency in water use in the Region, there is simply not enough water for substantial expansion in irrigated agriculture to meet the rising food needs in the Region. The Meeting also recognized that expansion in rainfed agriculture in many countries of the Region was constrained by low productivity and instability, due to limited and highly variable rainfall levels, and by ecological fragility due to high risks of soil erosion and desertification.

23. The Meeting further recognized numerous serious challenges to achieving sustainable agricultural development in the Region. These included the relatively weak enabling social and macroeconomic policy environment, high population growth, inadequate agricultural marketing systems, high post-harvest losses and waste, increasing use of marginal lands by nomads and poor people, and weak quality control systems in a number of countries.

24. Examining food deficit estimates in the Region for the year 2010, the Meeting noted significant variations among sub-regions and between countries in the same sub-region. Nevertheless, with few exceptions, all sub-regions were expected to have relatively large food deficits and the Region's food gap is expected to increase at an annual average rate of 2.9 per cent between 1995 and 2010. It was also noted that the final stage of the Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture and the establishment of the World Trade Organization (WTO) were expected to result in higher grain prices and lower foreign food aid. This would make the estimated food deficits in the year 2010 even larger.

25. The Meeting debated at length the 10 elements, suggested in Document NERC/00/4, for the formulation of a strategic framework for sustainable agricultural development in the Region, namely: (i) Eliminating internal market distortions and liberalizing trade in agricultural products; (ii) Developing agriculture in rainfed areas; (iii) Rationalizing irrigated agriculture in the Region; (iv) Organizing grains stocks and allocating food grains under unstable production conditions; (v) Rationalizing import-export policies for agricultural and food products; (vi) Promoting intra-regional cooperation; (vii) Diversifying extra-regional supply sources; (viii) Encouraging intra-regional investment and labor mobility for agricultural development; (ix) Increasing small farmer incomes through promoting non-farm activities; and (x) Targeting agricultural and rural development projects to specific segments of the rural poor.

26. The Meeting called upon Member States to:

27. The Meeting requested FAO to:

Progress Report on Reactivating the FAO Near East Cooperative Programme (NECP)

28. The Meeting considered the Document NERC/00/INF/5, "Progress Report on Reactivating the FAO Near East Cooperative Programme (NECP)". It recalled with satisfaction the success achieved by the NECP during its first phase, but noted that some recent significant changes have occurred affecting the economic environment prevailing in the original donor countries of the Programme. The Meeting recognized the efforts made by the FAO Regional Office, which provided the Secretarial assistance to the Programme, and agreed with the Secretariat's assessment that the interest has been eroded in re-activating the NECP in its `old' scope. New modalities and alternatives ought to be based on lessons learnt, and the future Programme should be well targeted and address national priorities and individual needs of the participating countries. The Meeting debated the proposed "National and Regional Trust Fund Projects" modalities for the NECP, as well as the suggested alternative mechanisms of implementation.

29. The Meeting called upon Member States to:

30. The Meeting requested FAO to:

Animal Health Commission for the Near East

31. The Meeting reviewed Document NERC/00/5, "Animal Health Commission/Forum for the Near East". It recognized that animal production in the Region is coming under extreme pressure manifested in increased demand for animal protein due to high population growth rates, shrinking pastureland and recurrent waves of drought. The Meeting further emphasized that although animal production constraints could be managed at the country level, yet the prevention and control of outbreaks of transboundary animal diseases could not possibly be achieved except through consolidated Regional cooperation.

32. The Meeting, welcomed with appreciation the initiative by the FAO Regional Office to promote the establishment of a Regional Commission capable of responding quickly and efficiently to any emergency situation related to serious outbreaks of transboundary animal diseases. The Meeting noted that the proposed Commission would address specific problems related to transboundary animal diseases and would constitute a support to the operational FAO Global EMPRES Programme.

33. The Meeting unanimously recommended that an "Animal Health Commission for the Near East" be established under Article XIV of the FAO Constitution.

34. The Meeting requested FAO to:

Consultation on the Promotion of Intra-Regional Trade for Improvement of Food Security in the Near East

35. The Meeting listened to a presentation on "Intra-Regional Agricultural Trade in the Near East" and commended FAO for the valuable information included in the paper. The Meeting expressed its appreciation to FAO for the timely presentation on this important topic during a special session in parallel to the Regional Conference.

36. The Meeting requested FAO to include this important topic on the agenda of future Near East Regional fora.


Household Nutrition Security and Education

37. The Meeting took note of the Document NERC/00/INF/7, "Household Nutrition Security and Education", which indicated that many countries of the Near East Region were faced with rapid social and economic changes, some of which were having a negative nutritional impact on certain sectors of the population. The Meeting welcomed the FAO-proposed framework, which would broaden the scope of household food security and nutrition education to include health enhancement, as well as the risk factor reduction programmes.

Representation of the Region on the CGIAR

38. The Meeting took note that the FAO Council, at its 117th Session held from 9 to 11 November 1999, directed that member countries be formally informed that: (i) FAO had endorsed the CGIAR proposal for phasing out the current system of Regional Representation at the CGIAR as it has operated until now; and (ii) the current elected Representatives at the CGIAR will complete their terms. The Meeting recommended that Member States endorse the above-mentioned CGIAR proposal and FAO's decision on this matter.


Adoption of the Report of the Senior Officers Meeting

39. The Meeting adopted the report after introducing some amendments.

Closure of the Senior Officers Meeting

40. The Meeting was declared closed at 18:30, on Wednesday, 22 March 2000.






Beirut, Lebanon, 21-22 March 2000




Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
FAO Regional Office for the Near East

Cairo 2000


A. Introduction

The Regional FAO-NGOs/CSOs Consultation for the Near East took place in Beirut on 21-22 March 2000, in conjunction with the 25th FAO Regional Conference for the Near East.

Thirty-six organizations were invited in order to exchange views on the situation of food security in their respective countries and to generate recommendations for follow-up in the context of FAO's new policy and strategy for cooperation with civil society organizations. Twenty NGOs/CSOs from eight countries (Algeria, Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Sudan, and Yemen) participated in the Consultation.

The meeting opened with addresses by the FAO Regional Information Officer for the Near East on behalf of the FAO Regional Representative, an Advisor to the Minister of Agriculture, Housing and Cooperatives of Lebanon, and the Chairman of the Host NGO/CSO Committee. The proposed provisional agenda was adopted by acclamation. Dr. Musa Nimah of YMCA (Lebanon) was elected Chairperson of the Consultation, and Mrs. Basma Al-Qubati of SOFD (Yemen) and Ms. N. El Sayyed of the Lebanese Women Council (Lebanon) Vice-Chairpersons. The Drafting Committee was composed of Ms. Christine Sayegh of the Farah Social Foundation (Lebanon), Ms. May Hamed of YMCA (Lebanon) and Ms. Abla Mehdi Abdel Al Moneim of HWS (Sudan), with Ms. Sayegh and Ms. Hamed as alternating rapporteurs.

The documents that the FAO Secretariat put before the participants for discussion were:

Other documents made available as background information to participants were the report on the WFS follow-up and the CFS document on broadened participation of civil society in the work of CFS.

FAO introduced the two main technical papers before the Consultation, followed by a visual presentation by a representative of ESAF highlighting global constraints to food security, including observations pertinent to the Near East Region. The presentation reminded participants of the seven commitments made by the governments at the WFS (Rome 1996), emphasizing the complexity of food security issues, including availability of basic food, stability of supplies, access to food and nutritional issues.

The document on FAO policy and strategy for cooperation with non-governmental and civil society organizations was presented as a general framework which should accommodate action plans of civil society institutions participating in the series of NGO/CSO Consultations that FAO is organizing in concomitance with the Regional Conferences taking place in Africa, the Near East, Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific, and Europe in the year 2000.

B. Towards a Strategic Framework for Sustainable Agricultural Development in the Near East

Participants observed that sustainable agricultural development aimed at achieving food security is an integrated approach that involves many factors that needed to be properly coordinated, channeled and managed. They also indicated that these factors were not only agricultural in nature, but also involved institutional, economic, financial, social, as well as political factors. Furthermore, the achievement of sustainable agricultural development required the cooperation and close collaboration of governmental organizations, CSOs and NGOs . In the Near East Region, this ideal set up for sustainable agricultural development was being hindered by the following limiting factors:

  1. insufficient coordination between NGOs/CSOs and the governments;
  2. governments usually adopt top-down approach to planning development strategies;
  3. insufficient coordination among the various parties involved in the development field, which may lead to non-optimal use of scarce resources;
  4. lack of proper NGO/CSO participation in the formulation and implementation of agricultural and rural policies;
  5. unavailability, at times, of sufficient technical know-how among NGOs/CSOs , mainly due to poor networking with research and technical institutions such as universities, regional and international organizations.

Participants in the consultation emphasized the importance of FAO's role in cooperating and coordinating in the planning and execution of policies towards sustainable agricultural development.

Participants recommended:

  1. to improve complementarity between governments and NGOs/CSOs in development planning as implementing phases with the view of enhancing sustainable agricultural development;
  2. to establish a framework for cooperation between NGOs/CSOs and governments to identify vulnerable groups and devise strategies and policies to raise their living standards;
  3. to make available and use efficiently human, natural and financial resources, including gender/age sensitive participatory approach in the planning and execution of developmental strategies;
  4. to adopt and implement appropriate policies and strategies to minimize rural exodus through increasing beneficial employment opportunities and improving marketing practices;
  5. to encourage joint ventures among FAO, NGOs/CSOs, governments and donors;
  6. to encourage information sharing and transfer of technology among FAO, governments, and NGOs/ CSOs;
  7. to work closely with FAO to establish a network aimed at identifying priorities, initiating feasibility studies and financing NGO/CSO projects;
  8. to encourage the work of cooperatives and to assist in the establishment of them;
  9. to assign FAO staff responsible for liaison with NGOs/CSOs in FAO decentralized offices;
  10. to establish data bases on NGOs/CSOs working in areas of FAO competence;
  11. to use FAO channels of communication, including public media, in coordination with the NGOs/CSOs to raise public awareness about environment and sustainable agricultural development issues.

C. FAO Policy and Strategy for Cooperation with Non-Governmental and Civil Society Organizations in the Near East

Participants at the Consultation expressed their satisfaction with the transparent approach followed by FAO in formulating its policies and strategies for cooperation with NGOs/CSOs. Participants also considered the document as a good basis for the development of enhanced coordination between FAO and grassroot organizations on the one hand and multilateral cooperation involving governments, funding institutions, FAO and NGOs/CSOs on the other, towards reaching the goals embedded in the seven commitments of the WFS Plan of Action.

Participants recommended actions to complement the priorities and needs of the Near East Region, as follows:

  1. to further promote consultative processes among NGOs/CSOs, governments and FAO with a view to enhancing partnership;
  2. to encourage and facilitate intra-NGO/CSO coordination and the pooling of resources at the national level;
  3. to apply comparative advantage principles among NGOs/CSOs in order to optimize the use of available human and financial resources;
  4. to promote a two-way communication through the establishment of information-sharing networks, electronic and otherwise, to facilitate the transfer of technology, benefiting from gained experiences and analyses, including from international organizations such as FAO, regional and international NGOs;
  5. to increase FAO-NGOs/CSOs coordination for the identification and implementation by NGOs/CSOs of projects, including TeleFood, in accordance with their respective area of competence;
  6. to consider as equal partners in development NGOs/CSOs, governments, international organizations, donors, etc., and to deal with them as such in the planning and the implementation of policies and strategies;
  7. to formulate policies conducive to the enhancement of NGOs/CSOs capacity-building in the various aspects of development , including gender-oriented needs.

D. Field Visit

A field trip to Al Ain in the Bekaa area was organized by the host NGO (YMCA) to visit a model integrated rural development project implemented by the YMCA in partnership with local committees.

This project serves, on a cluster basis, four villages and aims at creating expanded economic opportunities in the agricultural sector for rural families. This model project emphasizes an integrated sustainable approach whereby infrastructure is provided for lowering the cost of agricultural production, introduction of new crop varieties for higher yield and better economic returns, training in food processing for rural women for value-added of agricultural produce, and finally marketing and sales for ultimate connection to the market. Thus, a complete cycle has been established, from "seed to table".

Participants expressed their appreciation to the host NGO for organizing this field visit as well as the opportunity to examine up close a model project that may be duplicated where applicable.


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