Twenty-sixth Session

Rome, 18-21 September 2000







Country Statements and General Debates


25.   The Conference was also pleased to note that another Consultation, held in conjunction with the 21st FAO Regional Conference on 21 to 22 February 2000, brought together representatives of farmers' organisations and Non-Governmental Organisations from the region to reflect on issues of food security and to formulate a joint Action Plan in the context of FAO's new policy and strategy for co-operation with civil society organisations.

In particular, the Conference:

  1. stressed that food security remained a high priority for Member Countries, and noted that improving agricultural performance was the key to increasing household incomes, and reducing the incidence of poverty and malnutrition;

  2. emphasised the importance of household food security and agreed that high-quality analyses were needed on household food availability and access, including analyses of the linkages between agriculture, natural resources and non-farm employment;

  3. noted that increased food production would complement the search of African countries for access to wider markets and would eventually lead to the elimination of hunger and poverty;

  4. emphasised the need for cause and effect analysis of drought for awareness building at community, national and regional levels to enhance disaster management approaches as part of food security strategies.

  5. noted that climatic variability and climate-induced disasters contributed significantly to food insecurity and that the agricultural community in Africa needed reliable and timely climate information;

  6. re-emphasised the role of women in agriculture and food security and requested women's empowerment through identification of suitable technologies to reduce their labour input in household, farm and non-farm activities;

  7. expressed concern about the alarming rate of deforestation and forest degradation in Africa, despite the social, cultural and economic values of trees and forests to African societies. The Conference recommended that FAO intensify efforts to assist countries in forest resources assessment and monitoring and in developing training and extension programmes, which contribute to the sustainable use and conservation of forest and wildlife resources in Africa;

  8. recommended that the debate on access to bank loans for small farmers and agricultural workers be the subject of a specific agenda item of future regional meetings;

  9. recognised the lack of quality control of food products in the region and recommended that FAO assist in establishing a regional food control laboratory in the context of Codex Alimentarius. Algeria offered to host such a laboratory;

  10. recommended that FAO intensify support to non-conventional food products, especially bushmeat and non-wood forest products;

  11. agreed that greater regional co-operation and integration were needed if African countries were to benefit from international trade negotiations under the WTO or other multi-national institutions.


Regional FAO/NGO/CSO Consultation for Africa

30.  The Conference heard a presentation on this Consultation, held in conjunction with the 21st FAO Regional Conference on 21 to 22 February 2000. (The Conclusions and Recommendations of the Consultation are contained in Appendix H).

31.  FAO had invited representatives of farmers' organisations (FOs) and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) from the region to reflect on issues of food security, voice their concerns to the Organisation's Governing Bodies and formulate a joint action plan in the context of FAO's new policy and strategy for co-operation with civil society organisations.

32.  The Consultation commended FAO for recognising the role of FOs/NGOs in securing food security in Africa, but expressed its deep concern for the crisis facing African agriculture and food security today, particularly in the context of globalisation. More than 75% of national food production in Africa was assured by family farms, the smallest unit of civil society, and it was civil society organisations at all levels that catered to the social dimensions of food security through mechanisms of solidarity and self-help. FOs and NGOs had always promoted activities relevant to food security. In the current environment of privatisation, however, they were being called upon to take part in policy formulation and to shoulder the task of providing services to farmers that the State was no longer able to ensure.

33.  FOs and NGOs welcomed the opportunity to contribute more significantly to attaining the goal of food security, which was the basic objective of any society. To play their new roles effectively, however, strong partnerships were needed between Governments, FOs, NGOs and other stakeholders. The roles of each actor should be clearly stated and each assisted to build the capacity required to fulfil them. The recommendations adopted by the Consultation, addressed to Governments, FAO, NGOs and farmers organisations, seek to promote these partnerships.

34.  The Conference heard and testified to the excellent results obtained from applying a policy of transparent partnership with FOs and NGOs. Agricultural Structural Adjustment Programmes and other projects had been negotiated with the participation of FOs and civil society representatives. Responsibility for channelling funds to local associations had been entrusted to FOs, which had managed them competently. Regular meetings with government officials at all levels had provided effective fora for discussing and resolving issues related to food production and security. At the request of Governments, FAO had helped to build the capacity of FOs through the Technical Co-operation Programme.

35.  The Conference emphasised the importance of establishing partnerships with FOs and NGOs in pursuit of common goals of food security and sustainable agriculture. It commended FAO for establishing a policy and strategy framework for enhanced co-operation with FOs and NGOs and for hosting the Consultation. It recommended that the report of the Consultation be widely distributed to help member countries see how best to proceed in building collaboration. FAO should extend to other interested countries its existing experience of facilitating dialogue between Governments and Civil Society Organisations and in helping to strengthen capacities.



41.  The Report of the Technical Committee, ARC/00/TC, was presented by the Rapporteur for consideration and adoption by the Conference, viz:


ARC/00/5 World Food Summit Follow-up: Special Programme for Food Security
(Agenda Item 6): -National Ownership of the Programme and its South-South Dimension.
ARC/00/6 World Food Summit Follow-up: Actions Taken at Regional and Sub-Regional Levels to Implement the Plan of Action


After detailed examination and subsequent discussions, the Conference amended and adopted the Report of the Technical Committee. This document is contained in Appendix G.




World Food Summit (WFS) Follow-up: The FAO Special Programme for Food Security - National Ownership of the Programme and its South-South Dimension (ARC/00/5)

17.  The meeting commended FAO for achievements of the Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS), reported under document ARC/00/5. It recalled that the SPFS was launched in 1994 and endorsed by the World Food Summit (WFS) in November 1996, when Heads of State and Government committed themselves to making food security a major priority.

18.  The meeting noted that the SPFS was operational in 30 LIFDCs and under formulation in another 14 countries in Africa. It outlined progress in the four SPFS components of water control, crop intensification, diversification on small animals and fisheries and constraints analysis.

19.  It welcomed the institutional framework in place for the SPFS co-ordination and management at country level and at FAO. The meeting recognised the initial constraints in financing, which restricted program scope and coverage, but reported that donor financing now supports the SPFS in 15 countries. Commitments in excess of US$50 million had been pledged for SPFS projects in Africa. This amount had been supplemented by substantial contributions from recipient SPFS countries.

20.   The meeting further acknowledged that South-South Co-operation was well integrated at field level. It also noted considerable progress in expanding South-South Co-operation among SPFS countries and applauded FAO and Member Countries in promoting this partnership.

21.  In particular, the meeting:

  1. urged Member Countries to enhance national ownership of the SPFS and to take full advantage of benefits offered by South-South Co-operation;

  2. underlined the need to expand the programme in order to achieve national food security objectives and requested FAO to mobilise financing, to the extent possible;

  3. recommended that FAO introduce more flexible working arrangements with regard to contracting personnel under South-South Co-operation;

  4. recommended that FAO consider convening regional consultations for SPFS countries to exchange experiences for programme enhancement and undertake the reproduction and distribution of the SPFS film made in Tanzania and Senegal among the Member Countries in the region;

  5. recommended the development of an active partnership between governments and the private sector in all rural development activities.

World Food Summit Follow-up: Actions Taken at Regional and Sub-Regional Levels to Implement the Plan of Action (ARC/00/6)

22.  The meeting considered this Agenda Item on the basis of Document ARC/00/6 and expressed appreciation for the initiatives taken by FAO to implement the World Food Summit Plan of Action. Access to food was particularly critical in the LIFDCs. Moreover instability of food supply and demand together with natural and human-caused disasters make it even more difficult to satisfy basic food needs. Of the 86 countries in the LIFDC category, 43 were in sub-Saharan Africa. Political, physical, social, financial and economic as well technical and institutional constraints were the main causes of food insecurity and vulnerability.

23.  The meeting reaffirmed the measures indicated in some of the Commitments of the WFS Plan of Action which were aimed at overcoming the serious problems of food insecurity in the region. It stressed that attention should be paid in particular to peaceful resolution of armed conflicts, good governance and the development of participatory, gender-positive agricultural policies and programmes that would increase food availability and incomes, thus facilitating the access to food for all. This should be accompanied by strong South-South and International co-operation.

24.  The meeting commended the strategy for National Agricultural Development - Horizon 2010 initiated by FAO, in co-operation with all countries of the Region, which provide frameworks at national, sub-regional and regional levels for the implementation of the measures proposed. These were strengthened by the Regional Strategies for Agricultural Development and Food Security (RSADFS) prepared in collaboration with regional and sub-regional institutions.

The meeting made the following recommendations:

  1. National and regional policies and strategies were needed to enable Member Countries pool their efforts in combating both the causes and consequences of food insecurity;

  2. governments should establish a stable political environment to ensure sustainable peace and development of democratic institutions;

  3. governments should adopt participatory economic policies aimed at combating poverty, controlling population growth and improving the productive capacity of natural and human resources.




1.  The above Consultation was held in parallel with the 21st FAO Regional Conference for Africa in Yaounde, Cameroon from 21-25 February 2000. The Consultation was attended by 27 participants from 14 farmers' organizations and 13 national and regional NGOs from East, Southern, Central and West Africa.

2.  The meeting was officially opened by the Minister of Agriculture of the Republic of Cameroon, and addressed by the FAO Assistant Director-General/Regional Representative for Africa, Mr Bamidele F. Dada, and the President of the Committee of the host NGO. Mr Mamadou Cissokho, "Conseil National de Concertation et de Co-operation des Ruraux (CNCR)" of Senegal was elected Chairman, 1st and 2nd Vice-Chairpersons and three Rapporteurs were also elected to the bureau.

3.  The discussions centred on the theme of the World Food Summit Follow-up: Actions Taken at the Regional and Sub-regional levels to Implement the Plan of Action." The deliberations were enriched by presentations of experiences by participants from IRED in the SADC Sub-region and the CNCR/FONGS in Senegal on examples of co-operation programmes, with FAO support, in capacity building for farmer organizations and some NGOs, in close collaboration with national governments.


4.  The Consultation emphasised that food security issues be properly addressed. There was the need for strong partnerships between national Governments, FAO, Farmers Organizations (FOs), NGOs and other stakeholders. It was recognised that the complexity of food security issues made collaborative efforts among all stakeholders mandatory and that the roles of each of them needed to be clearly defined and stated. Therefore, the recommendations of the Consultation were addressed to different stakeholders.

For the attention of Governments

The Consultation:

5.     urged governments to ensure the participatory formulation of a coherent and equitable national food security policy with the involvement of all stakeholders;

6.     recommended that governments provide necessary protection and support for local food production in the context of attaining food sovereignty;

7.     recommended that governments establish an enabling environment for the implementation of the national food policy, including appropriate legislative framework;

8.     urged governments to recognize farmer organizations as partners in food security and implement this acknowledgement in practice;

9.    emphasised that governments assist farmer organizations build capacity to take up their increased role in food production and security;

10.    encouraged governments to enable farmer organizations to have access to those human, material and financial resources which are available and earmarked for carrying out these roles;

11.    appealed to governments invest in sectors which support food security, health (HIV/AIDS), education, research and other social infrastructure;

12.     implored governments to facilitate access by small farmers to production factors: land, water, technology, finance, etc.;

13.     urged governments to ensure that the needs of vulnerable groups in food security were catered for;

For the attention of FAO

The Consultation:

14.    recognised and commended FAO as the guardian of the global food security concerns, the advisor to its member countries on agricultural and food security policy. These countries have committed themselves to working closely with civil society by signing the World Food Summit Plan of Action;

15.    expected FAO to facilitate policy dialogue between governments and farmer organizations and other stakeholders;

16.     urged FAO to continue assisting capacity building in policy analysis, service provision, and organizational strengthening;

17.     appealed to FAO to ensure that there was clear and comprehensive two-way flow of information regarding food security, between governments and farmers' organizations and other civil society organizations;

18.     recommended that FAO support information exchange networks at national, regional and global levels;

19.    requested FAO to honour its commitment to work with civil society actors by systematically involving them in all of its programmes;

20.    requested FAO to consider incorporation of consultations with FOs/NGOs as a regular feature of FAO Regional Conferences.

For the Attention of NGOs

The Consultation:

21.    reiterated that the mission of NGOs was to help farming communities improve their well being. They were valuable supporters of farmers' organizations, as sources of technical advice, support services and, in some cases, of financial assistance. NGOs were expected to assist farmers' organization to be strong and responsive voices of the farmers;

22.    encouraged NGOs to form coalitions, adopt transparent codes of conduct and network with each other and with farmers organizations to clearly define their respective mandates and areas of operation and promote collaboration in the common effort to ensure food security;

23.     urged NGOs to provide support for capacity strengthening for farmer organizations on a contractual basis in response to FO demands and conduct lobbying and public information campaigns on issues related to food security.

For the attention of Farmers Organizations

The Consultation:

24.    noted that FOs had the role of mobilising farmers in the country and articulating and defending their interests. In the current changing circumstances, they are increasingly responsible for providing support services to farmers. To achieve this, the Consultation:

25.    reminded FOs to take responsibility for self auditing and house cleaning and develop leadership qualities to ensure good governance and grass-root control;

26.     urged FOs to maintain a non-political status while recognizing the authority of the State as the key player in ensuring food security for all components of society;

27.    emphasised that FOs develop a clear and broad vision of issues of food security involving grassroots groups and recognize the role of other actors in society - like transporters, trade unions, consumers, researchers, NGOs and foster alliances with them;

28.     recommended that FOs develop their capacities to function in a liberalized market economy and gain the services they need and incorporate women's role in agriculture programmes.