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Technical items

Report on FAO activities in the region 1992-93
Promoting agricultural cooperation through a common african agricultural programme
Outcome of the 106th session of the council and its implications for the present and future activities of FAO in the region
Preparation for the 1996 world food summit
Draft declaration on food and agriculture
Development of technologies in the context of an eco-regional approach for sustainable agricultural production in Africa
Follow-up to the international scheme for the conservation and rehabilitation of african lands (ISCRAL) and the role of FAO in the implementation of the "urgent action for Africa", in relation to the "international convention to combat desertification"
A proposal for a diversification facility for african commodities (DFAC)
Desert locust control in the region and preparation for future campaigns
Representation of the region on the consultative group on international agricultural research (CGIAR)
Report of the follow-up to the international conference on nutrition (ICN)

Report on FAO activities in the region 1992-93

36. The Officer-in-Charge, and Deputy Regional Representative for Africa presented the document1 to the Conference.

[1 ARC/94/2.]

37. Despite the numerous attempts to improve the situation, rural poverty had actually been accentuating and 80 percent of the countries were faced with chronic food deficits. The growth of food production had not kept pace with consumption and self-sufficiency ratios had declined. The disturbing conclusion was that a large number of Member Nations of the Region were unable to meet their basic nutritional requirements and there was a continuous worsening of the food security situation. Accordingly, this unprecedent crisis of development was a challenge to the entire continent to initiate new strategies in order to return the Region to the path of sustained growth.

38. The Officer-in-Charge reported extensively on the various programmes implemented and activities undertaken in the Region during the 1992-93 period. These included, inter alia programmes to mitigate rural poverty such as proposals for an integrated approach to rural development, comparative and multi-dimensional analysis of tenurial changes in land resources, the organization of rural women's access to credit and the promotion of income generating activities for women.

39. Some further activities included consultation on the role of farmers' organizations and groups in education and training, as well as training on the rational use of water resources, coordination of activities connected with the Tropical Forest Action Programme (TFAP), workshops on pest management, distribution and use of pesticide, national user producer dialogue for agricultural statisticians, and post harvest technologies and training in food processing. Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries (TCDC) had also been promoted.

40. The Conference expressed its dismay with the continued existence of poverty in the Region in spite of many conferences. Various possible explanations for the situation were highlighted. One was the fact that rural poverty was not the prerogative of agriculture as was usually erroneously thought, although because of its nature as the predominant sector in most African economies, it was primarily responsible for the poverty situation in most countries. Poverty was a structural problem and needed a multisectoral approach to solve it. The Member Nations recognized that proper monitoring and evaluation mechanisms were lacking, as were adequate measures for appropriate technology transfers and research, and requested FAO to take appropriate measures to assist Member Nations to rectify the situation.

41. The Conference was alerted to the fact that lack of amenities and appropriate infrastructures in the rural areas contributed to the urban drift of the population, thus increasing the pressure on the meagre resources of the urban areas and engendering increased urban poverty. The Conference urged Member Nations to monitor the situation closely so as to introduce appropriate measures that would make the rural areas more attractive, and thereby significantly reduce the rural exodus.

42. The Conference inferred that other causes included the fact that Ministers of Agriculture did not control national financial resources and were thus hamstrung in the execution of vital agricultural recovery programmes and projects. This extended to the political arena where the required agricultural interventions were not accorded the necessary priorities. Inter-African non-cooperation was an inhibiting factor although trade, transfers of technology, harmonization of policies and the intelligent sharing of resources between countries were necessary ingredients for African agricultural development.

43. The Conference recommended that Ministers of Agriculture of the Member Nations of the Region should make strenuous efforts to sensitize Ministers in charge of National Departments of Finance and other key ministries, as well as Heads of State and Government to understand the most vital and urgent need to prioritize agriculture. The Conference farther recommended that FAO and other concerned international agencies, such as the OAU, should ensure that, during international meetings, Ministers of Agriculture would interact with those Ministers in charge of National Departments of Finance and other key ministries, as well as Heads of State, whenever the opportunity arose. This would serve to emphasize the essential role of agriculture in national development.

Promoting agricultural cooperation through a common african agricultural programme

44. The Senior Economist, Africa Group, Policy Analysis Division presented the document2 to the Conference in connection with this agenda item. He said that the document was in fact an OAU paper prepared with FAO support. He recalled that the idea of formulating a Common African Agricultural Programme (CAAP) came about at a meeting between OAU and the UN system in 1990.

[2 ARC/94/3.]

45. A consensus emerged during that meeting that, to operationalize the food and agricultural provisions for establishing an African Economic Community (AEC), it would be necessary to prepare and adopt a programme for sustainable agricultural development. The meeting, therefore, requested FAO, as the world's leading institution on food and agriculture, to assist OAU in preparing a draft framework for such a programme. FAO agreed to support this activity primarily because it provided an opportunity for the Organization to contribute to Africa's economic integration effort through cooperation in the food and agricultural sector.

46. Economic integration and cooperation at the sub-regional and regional levels did play a major role in the continent's overall development. Today, the spirit of cooperation and integration among Member Nations of the Region was stronger than ever before as evidenced by the emergence of many intergovernmental organizations.

47. The Conference debated the respective merits of calling CAAP a policy or a programme, and decided to refer the matter to the appropriate FAO and OAU authorities for a final decision. It was accepted however, that the overriding goal of CAAP was to promote regional cooperation and integration in the food and agriculture sector. More specifically, CAAP should promote and enhance economic cooperation through the development and coordination of policies, programmes and projects, technical cooperation to facilitate the development and utilization of appropriate technologies, and cooperation for a rational and equitable exploitation of common resources.

48. Subject to possible future adjustments, the objectives of CAAP were to commit Member Nations to cooperation in the development of agriculture, livestock and fisheries in order to ensure food security; increase productivity and production in food and agriculture, including forestry and fisheries; enhance agricultural production through local processing of various agricultural products, and protect prices of export commodities on the international market.

49. The operationalization of CAAP would require the AEC Secretariat ensure that CAAP framework documents were considered and approved by the relevant national, sub-regional and continent-wide organizations, NGOs, professional associations. Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Agriculture, whose roles were critical to this end.

50. Success in achieving CAAP objectives would entail relying heavily on the Regional Economic Communities. The policies and programmes of these integrated groupings should constitute a major component of CAAP. While foreign financial assistance would be welcome, the funding of CAAP would be the primary responsibility of African countries.

51. The Conference endorsed the principles and strategies of CAAP. It recommended that FAO intensify its efforts to make the development, implementation and monitoring of the CAAP a standing item on the agenda of future Regional Conference, in order to ensure continuing participation of the Conference in this process.

52. The Conference emphasized the importance of open borders, competitiveness, and consultation on the utilization of common water resources. The Conference recommended that a pragmatic approach should be pursued in promoting economic integration and cooperation with clearly defined implementation phases. The Conference further recommended that FAO should continue to provide technical assistance to strengthen the analytical capacity of individual Member Nations, as well as integration groupings in the area of policy analysis. In addition, the Conference appealed to FAO to provide support to Member Nations in assisting them to create the favourable conditions for enhancing trade among African countries.

53. The Conference considered it of utmost importance that countries harmonize their macro-economic and sectoral policies, and suggested that structural adjustment programmes should be designed and implemented by taking into account the regional dimension.

Outcome of the 106th session of the council and its implications for the present and future activities of FAO in the region

54. The Independent Chairman of the Council presented the document3 to the Conference in connection with this agenda item. He emphasized that this document was for information only, and in this regard, he would provide a briefing of the deliberations. In the main, the document referred to reforms carried out as a result of the proposals of the Director-General within the framework of the transformation of the UN system, and within a wide-ranging process of consultation and participation of Member Nations, as well as transparency on behalf of the FAO Secretariat.

[3 ARC/94/INF/10.]

55. It was recognized that the Director-General's proposals were normative and were only a first step towards adapting FAO to the new challenges of food security, sustainable development and greater managerial efficiency, all within the budgetary limitations of FAO. The progress report on the implementation of the decisions taken by Council had been discussed, and the related supplementary document would be presented to a subsequent Council meeting. This would permit a further assessment of progress to date.

56. The Conference was informed that the Council had confirmed that achieving food security worldwide should be an absolute priority, and that FAO should renew efforts to implement relevant special programmes, particularly in low-income food-deficit countries (LIFDCs). It was agreed that this would entail extra financial provisions. The other special programme unanimously approved was the Emergency Prevention System for Trans-boundary Animal Pests and Diseases (EMPRES). The notion of an accelerated restructuring exercise was also unanimously approved.

57. The policy of decentralization proposed by the Director-General was recognized as giving a new dimension in identifying regional, sub-regional and national needs. Also, the new Department of Technical Cooperation permitted improved relations of cooperation with multilateral and bilateral institutions, the private sector and NGOs. The new Department for Sustainable Development also received unanimous support.

58. The Special Adviser to the Director-General/Assistant Director-General for Environment and Sustainable Development reported on the action taken by the Director-General for the implementation of the decisions of the 106th Session of the Council. He emphasized that the broad scope of these decisions implied a series of stages which would extend beyond the present biennium and involve the preparation and implementation of the Programme of Work and Budget 1996-97.

59. As regarded decentralization, Member Nations were consulted by the Director-General on their priorities so as to ensure that the multidisciplinary teams established in the Regional and Sub-regional Offices would include expertise specially related to regional and sub-regional requirements. Member Nations were also being consulted with a view to reaching a consensus on the location of the sub-regional offices for North Africa and for Eastern and Southern Africa. As regarded the FAO country offices, an audit of their activities was conducted at the request of the Director-General with a view to further improving their performance. The Organization's rules and procedures were being adjusted concurrently to enable the recruitment of National Programme Officers (NPOS).

60. The restructuring of Headquarters had now entered the phase of redeployment and redefinition of posts, particularly within the new Department of Technical Cooperation and the Department of Sustainable Development. This phase was almost completed, and would be followed by a series of staff transfers and new recruitment.

61. It was further reported that the new Special Programmes for LIFDCS and EMPRESS had completed their planning and programming phases, and were now proceeding with the launching of field missions at country and sub-regional levels. These concerned the identification of pilot projects to enhance local food production in LIFDCs, as well as a series of measures for the prevention and monitoring of locust infestations, and the control and eradication of rinderpest.

62. The Conference expressed satisfaction with the progress made and the action undertaken by the Director-General during the short time since the Council session, and invited the Council to continue to monitor the implementation of its decisions and give guidance and support to the Organization in this regard.

Preparation for the 1996 world food summit

63. The Director of the Information Division presented the document4 to the Conference in connection with this agenda item. This document was also presented to the Conference with the understanding that it was for information purposes only. The Conference was provided with a range of data concerning the persistence of food insecurity in many countries, the population increase and the decline in agricultural investment.5 The "deep concern" over these developments expressed by the Twenty-seventh Session of the Conference was recalled as was the Conference's call for immediate action to bring about food security.

[4 ARC/94/INF/9.

5 ARC/94/INF/11.]

64. The Conference noted that the Director-General had consulted a number of Heads of State and Governments in all regions on these issues and was aware of a consensus that the convening of a World Food Summit as early as possible was warranted and commensurate with the seriousness with which they viewed the problems of food insecurity. The Conference further noted that it was the Director-General's intention to call the World Food Summit in early 1996. Saturday 9 March and Sunday 10 March, 1996 were presently viewed as possible dates. The purpose of the Summit was to raise awareness and political will at the highest level, as well as in the realm of public opinion, on the non-acceptability of continued food insecurity and the need for global commitment and action to redress the problem. The Summit was expected to lead to the adoption of policies at international and national level, and the adoption of a Plan of Action. There was no intention to propose new organizational structures or additional financial mechanisms.

65. The Conference was informed that the preparatory process would be broad-based and involve consultations with governments, non-governmental organizations, the private sector and the UN system. The Secretariat would present the major issues relevant to world food security through a series of analytical background papers covering past developments, the present situation and proposals for future action. The papers would mainly be based on "Agriculture: Towards 2010" and other studies by the Organization. The Secretariat would also prepare a draft policy document for consideration by the Summit, as well as a Plan of Action.

66. The Summit documentation would be first submitted to a special Ministerial Meeting in Quebec, Canada, (October 14 to 16, 1995) convened in connection with the commemoration of FAO's Fiftieth Anniversary, Ministers of Agriculture and Development Cooperation would be invited to attend this meeting. Also in the context of the Fifteenth Anniversary of the Organization, the Federal Government of Canada and the Government of the Province of Quebec would organize a three-day international symposium on food security-related issues in Quebec (October 11-13, 1995). The Symposium would be attended by representatives from governments, non-governmental organizations and the private sector. Linkages between these two events would permit Symposium participants representing NGOs and the private sector to present their perspectives on food security issues at the Ministerial Meeting,

67. The Conference fully endorsed the convening of the World Food Summit.

Draft declaration on food and agriculture

68. The Director of the Information Division presented the document6 to the Conference, which was being presented for information purposes only. The Conference was informed that the Secretariat had prepared a draft "Declaration on Food and Agriculture"7 in response to Resolution 4/93 of the Twenty-seventh Session of the FAO Conference. The Resolution referred to the Fiftieth Anniversary of FAO and recommended that a draft declaration be submitted to all Regional Conferences in 1994. Member Governments were asked to submit their comments in writing before a given deadline. In the case of the African Region, the deadline for such comments was 28 December 1994.

[6 ARC/94/INF/10.

7 ARC/94/INF/9.]

69. The draft would be revised by the Secretariat in accordance with the written submissions from Member Nations. The revised draft would be placed before the Hundred and Eighth Session of the Council in June 1995 for its consideration. In the light of the Council's deliberations, it would be further revised for submission to the Fiftieth Anniversary Commemorative Observance for endorsement, and subsequently submitted for approval by the Twenty-eighth Session of the FAO Conference in November 1995.

70. The Conference was further informed that the Fiftieth Anniversary Resolution adopted by the last Conference of FAO also called upon all Member Nations to observe the Organization's Anniversary in a manner that befitted the importance of the event. Many activities were already under consideration. For example, more than 70 countries had already decided to issue commemorative stamps and, so far, over 35 countries had indicated that they would issue commemorative coins. In order to assist Member Nations to plan suitable commemorative events, the Director-General had already decided on the World Food Day theme for 1995, which was also the theme for the Anniversary: "Food for All".

71. The Delegation of Canada informed the Conference about the events that were scheduled to take place in Quebec City to mark the Fiftieth Anniversary of FAO in October 1995. The Governments of Canada and the Province of Quebec, and the City of Quebec were organizing an international commemorative Symposium from 11 to 13 October 1995 that would deal with a wide range of food security issues. The Fiftieth Anniversary Observance would take place on 16 October at Quebec's Château Frontenac, the very site where FAO had been founded in 1945, and the events would conclude with the endorsement of the "Quebec Declaration" - the Fiftieth Anniversary Declaration on Food and Agriculture. The Government of Canada would also host the Ministerial Meeting that was being convened by the Director-General in preparation for the World Food Summit.

72. At the end of this presentation the Conference took note of the document and its contents.

Development of technologies in the context of an eco-regional approach for sustainable agricultural production in Africa

73. The Senior Officer, International Agricultural Research and Technology Development Division presented the document8 to the Conference in connection with this agenda item. He recalled the recommendations of the Thirteenth FAO Regional Conference for Africa, which had discussed this subject, and highlighted the actions taken by FAO during the past decade. He pointed out that the state of food and agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa during the intervening decade had seriously deteriorated and among the several causes, two constraints were dominant. The first was weak national agricultural research and technology development institutions leading to generally low and poor rate of generation, development and transfer of technologies. The second was inappropriate policies and failure to adjust policies affecting the costs of production, distribution and processing and thus affecting competitiveness in domestic, regional and international markets.

[8 ARC/94/4.]

74. Recognizing that technology development and transfer was the engine to agricultural progress, he emphasized that previous approaches to research and technology development needed to be modified to enable the agricultural sector to accommodate national food and economic concerns in a comprehensive and sustained manner.

75. In relation to past trends in technology developments, African NARS had been strengthening their capabilities to complement their local technologies and skill by generating and transferring technologies for different agro-ecological and socio-economic settings in attaining the twin goals of productivity and sustainability. Such efforts included better yielding, disease and pest resistant and superior quality varieties of food and cash crops; management of animal diseases, development of new vaccines, development of better and improved grazing regimes and management of rangelands, and improved fishing and fish processing. However, the ongoing efforts fell drastically short of the challenges and opportunities.

76. The Conference was informed that the eco-regional approach for technology development and transfer was a sound approach not only for developing and identifying appropriate technologies but also for promoting technology exchange among countries and eco-regions. It noted that the African region featured one of the world's most variable and complex agro-ecological conditions and farming systems. In order to enhance production and insulate it from wild fluctuations, irrigation and water conservation and management should receive high priority to enable adoption of "Green Revolution" technologies and to intensify agricultural production in a sustainable manner.

77. The Conference was then apprised of several eco-regional strategies for enhancing the development, assessment, transfer and adoption/adaption of appropriate technology to meet the dual objectives promoting enhanced productivity and maintained sustainability and conservation of natural resources. These included action by national and international agricultural research systems and support mechanisms to adjust their visions and missions to complement the changing socio-economic, political and climatological and scientific realities. A Green Revolution that was environmentally-friendly and sustainable under African conditions should be developed. Adequate, sustainable and transparent funding for agricultural research and technology development had to be ensured.

78. The attention of the Conference was drawn to the fact that the use of the term sub-Saharan Africa was inappropriate in addressing issues of technology transfer, since food and agricultural considerations in this regard should be on a basis of ecological factors and not on the basis of North and South Africa. The Committee noted that the geographic scope of the document was for the African Region as a whole, and not only for sub-Saharan Africa.

79. The Conference made reference to earlier studies undertaken by FAO such as "African Agriculture: The Next 25 Years" which gave a comprehensive review of the major issues affecting the sector in countries of the Region. Since such studies provided a basis for assessing the extent of transfer and utilization of technologies, the Conference recommended that FAO initiate action to update the study.

80. The Conference lauded the Director-General's Special Programme on Food Security with particular attention to low-income, food-deficit countries. It acknowledged that fundamental to this thrust was accelerated and sustained food production in the deficit counties through the use of improved technology packages. The Conference endorsed the approach and cautioned that lessons learned from the "Green Revolution" in Latin America and Asia should be duly considered while launching a new "Green Revolution". It emphasized that the new Green Revolution should encompass a wider range of commodities, reduce inequity by being ushered in both well-endowed and poorly-endowed agro-ecological settings, and be environmentally-friendly. It recommended that national and international programmes should support the timely availability of key inputs such as water development and management facilities, credit, quality seed and fertilizer to the farmers in appropriate quantities. The Conference recommended that FAO support the efforts of Member Nations to develop farm irrigation and small dam programmes. It also requested that FAO provide assistance to help Member Nations develop efficient research and training facilities, and distribution networks for such key inputs as high quality seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, etc, with a view to increasing agricultural productivity.

81. The Conference emphasized that the foremost concern of the Member Nations should be to secure food for the burgeoning population, while not only reversing the process of degradation of natural resources but also improving and conserving them. The Conference noted that the scourge of drought was now assuming an almost permanent trait in the Region and that this called for a more research-oriented investigation of the problem.

82. Notwithstanding the pivotal role of appropriate technologies, the Conference underlined the need for necessary political will, commitment and suitable multisectoral policies to complement the technology push. It recommended that analysis should be carried out on the bottlenecks in formulation and/or implementation, and steps should be taken at the policy level for their removal. The right political will would also help in minimizing, if not completely eliminating, the man-made problems. There was a need also for establishing mechanisms for accessing technologies as there was an increasing trend of proprietary protection.

83. The Conference acknowledged that enhancing the capacity of the human resource base was a key factor in improving the quality of technology development and transfer in the Region, and its paucity was a major constraint in Africa. It recommended that this aspect receive high priority in national and international programmes and that an appropriate process should be developed and applied for identifying national human resources development priorities. In doing so, the needs of women farmers should be given due attention.

Follow-up to the international scheme for the conservation and rehabilitation of african lands (ISCRAL) and the role of FAO in the implementation of the "urgent action for Africa", in relation to the "international convention to combat desertification"

84. The Regional Soil Resources Officer, RAFR, presented the document9 to the Conference in connection with this agenda item. Recalling that food security, economic well-being and the quality of life of African populations depended on the quality of cropping, grazing lands and forest land resources, the Officer indicated that these resources were seriously endangered and that land degradation was and would be one of the major problems of contemporary Africa for a long time.

[9 ARC/94/INF/6.]

85. In order to combat and prevent further land degradation, FAO had prepared the International Scheme for the Conservation and Rehabilitation of African Lands (ISCRAL) which was approved by the Sixteenth Regional Conference for Africa. The Regional Soils Resources Officer also referred to the Convention adopted by the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) which had a close bearing on the ISCRAL Programme. The. Convention incorporated a Programme of Action for sustainable development worldwide to combat desertification and drought.

86. FAO's wide experience in desertification control and sustainable development made it inevitable that it should be closely involved in the preparation of the Convention and in the implementation of its activities. In order to harmonize and strengthen its work in desertification control and dryland development and provide the necessary support to the Convention, FAO had established a Working Group to act as a focal point and for cooperation activities. The Convention contained an annex for the Africa Region as one of its integral parts, the purpose of which was to identify means and arrangements for the implementation of the Convention in the Region.

87. The Officer highlighted the prominent role played by FAO during the negotiating process and the many concrete actions taken in connection with the implementation of the objectives of the Convention. More specifically, such actions included those contained in the Annex for Africa, as well as those connected with the Resolution on Urgent Action for Africa. All these were implemented within the new framework of thrust given to FAO activities and the changes brought about to the structures of the Organization.

88. The Conference was apprised of the scope and modalities of the International Scheme for Conservation and Rehabilitation of African lands (ISCRAL), the progress achieved so far and the experiences gained. Country reports had been prepared for a number of countries including Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central African Republic, Gambia, Malawi, Mali, Morocco, Rwanda and Togo, while identification missions were carried out in a number of countries. So far, the Scheme had been mainly supported through FAO's Regular Programme, but the requirements beyond the identification phase called for greater support in order to develop national and regional programmes.

89. The Conference expressed its appreciation for the initiative taken by FAO in connection with the ISCRAL project, and endorsed the proposal put forward by FAO regarding ISCRAL as an instrument for implementation of the Convention, and, in particular for the related Resolution for Urgent Action for Africa. The Conference noted the seriousness and extent of desertification/land degradation, pointing out its negative impact on agricultural productivity and the livelihood of the people.

90. The Conference took cognizance of related ongoing and already implemented activities in their respective countries, and commended FAO's involvement in the discussions related to the negotiating process as well as for the steps taken regarding the implementation of the regional Annex for Africa. The Member Nations Conference recommended that FAO intensify its assistance to Member Nations in the field of land and water conservation.

91. The Conference recognized that solutions to desertification should focus on causes rather than symptoms, and required a multidisciplinary approach. It stressed that there was need for the countries to effectively exercise ownership of programmes concerning desertification and land degradation control in order to achieve greater success. Also there was need for exchange of experience and knowledge in the areas of peoples' participation and policy formulation. The Conference recommended that countries take steps to enhance effectiveness in implementing desertification programmes by pooling resources and responsibilities together at the national level among different Ministries, as well as between countries.

92. The Conference stressed the need for more emphasis on assessment, monitoring and evaluation of projects and programmes concerning land, water and natural resources as a whole. Because of the seriousness of the problem of land degradation and desertification, long-term problems necessitated long-term solutions and commitments. Consequently it was most important that a clear and independent mechanism for financing related programmes and projects be established.

93. While emphasizing the need for close link among policy-makers, researchers and users, the Conference called for the development of national research programmes on soil and water conservation and requested the assistance of FAO and the international community to that effect. The Conference recommended that FAO continue its assistance to the International Scheme for Conservation and Rehabilitation of African Lands and called for a greater long-term financial support from the donor community in the implementation of the programme.

A proposal for a diversification facility for african commodities (DFAC)

94. The Senior Economist, Africa Group, Policy Analysis Division, presented the document10 to the Conference in connection with this agenda item. In his presentation, he pointed out that although the idea of diversifying the economies of African countries was not new, it had never really led to concrete follow-up actions in the past. The proposal for a diversification facility for Africa's commodities, currently being discussed in UN circles was, therefore, the first serious concerted effort at the international level for realistic implementation. He traced the origins of the process which had culminated in the organization of a study on the "Implementation of Diversification in the Commodity Sector in Africa, at National, Sub-regional and Regional Levels with the Support of the International Community."

[10 ARC/94/INF/8.]

95. Although it was recognized that such diversification was primarily the responsibility of the African countries themselves, financial and other constraints made it imperative that external assistance be sought to support diversification programmes and projects. FAO, at the request of the UN Secretary General had assisted by preparing the background document entitled "A Study on the Need for and the Feasibility of the Establishment of the Diversification Fund for African Commodities," with relevant recommendations. This study provided the basis for consultations between African countries and the international community under the auspices of the UN General Assembly.

96. The Conference was informed that the need for commodity diversification in Africa was certainly more pressing than ever in the light of the serious economic difficulties facing the Region. However, for diversification to take off, substantial resources were required, including the mobilization of external resources. External resource flows to diversification projects in Africa were limited but additional resources would be forthcoming only with the formulation of bankable projects and programmes.

97. There was a gap in development assistance for the preparation of diversification projects profitable enough to attract potential investors. Filling the gap was the raison d'être in proposing the creation of a special facility to fund the pre-investment phase of commodity diversification projects. The establishment of such a facility, as was conceived, did not require creating a new structure which would take an enormous amount of time to negotiate and which would involve the setting up of a costly new bureaucracy.

98. The Conference was informed that the facility would be established in the African Development Bank and that National Diversification Councils would be established at the country level with oversight responsibility on diversification undertakings. Furthermore, the Conference was made aware that the proposal was currently being discussed at the UN level and there was hope that it would meet with success this time around. Careful note needed to be taken at this time of the fact that the role of the FAO was purely that of a facilitator employing diverse ways and means to ensure the success and acceptance of the proposal.

99. The Conference overwhelmingly supported the proposal and praised FAO for taking initiatives such as these that would definitely be of benefit to the countries of the Region. The Conference, however, cautioned that the facility should not be used for theoretical studies or for technical assistance, but for more concrete developmental activities at the field level. In this connection, the attention of the Conference was called to the fact that grants were preferable to loans in establishing the fund. In addition, the potential adverse effects of diversification in marginal areas needed to be closely monitored.

100. The Conference was informed of the many activities already underway in various countries for implementing diversification programmes with promising results. The Conference recognized that it was of the utmost importance for grassroots participation in the related activities, and recommended that small farmers and their organizations should be represented in National Diversification Councils. Similarly, it was important to give priority to promoting interregional trade to recapture regional market shares lost to foreign competitors.

101. The Conference recognized the need for harmonizing macro-economic policies in order to foster inter-African trade and recommended that African countries now consider dismantling artificial barriers to trade. While this was important, other considerations needed to be kept in mind, such as the lack of transportation infrastructure, the lack of competitiveness of African exports as well as the lack of access to capital markets by nationals that could adversely curtail the advantages to be obtained from diversification.

Desert locust control in the region and preparation for future campaigns

102. The Regional Senior Crop Protection Officer, RAFR, presented the document11 to the Conference in connection with this agenda item. Recalling that the plague of locust was one of the scourges that still afflicted some countries of the Africa Region, he recalled incidents of this plague in the recent past, in particular, the 1987-89 major plague which affected mainly the Central, West and North-West regions of Africa and the 1992-94 upsurge which developed in the Central Region (Red Sea area). The latter extended to West Africa, India and Pakistan. He underscored the fact that FAO and the international donor community had deployed substantial efforts to combat the outbreaks and had allocated some US$300 million for treatment over an area of 15 million hectares in 1987-98, and US$43 million over an area of 4 million hectares in 1992-94.

[11 ARC/94/INF/12.]

103. He informed the Conference of the apparent increase in the frequency of Desert Locust outbreaks and the financial and environmental consequences of chemical control campaigns. The narrow time lag between Desert Locust upsurges could be attributed to several factors including: favourable weather conditions for breeding, unpreparedness of affected countries to respond to invasions, poor security situations in countries where Desert Locusts breeding areas were located, difficulties in making accurate long-term forecasting of outbreaks, lack of environmentally-safe and persistent pesticides since the banning of the apparently efficient anti-locust chemical - dieldrin, and the failure of preventive control measures.

104. The Conference was informed of the important role that the three FAO Regional Commissions involved with the control of Desert Locust could play in the promotion of national and the international research and in the coordination of related surveys and control activities. The Conference was further informed of the importance of the three intergovernmental regional locust control organizations in the recession and invasion areas of West Africa (OCLALCV), East Africa (DLCO-EA), and Central/Southern Africa (IRLCO-CSA). The crippling financial situation affecting the three intergovernmental organizations due to the non-payment of contributions by Member Nations was regrettable.

105. The Conference was made aware of current strategies for the control of the Desert Locust and noted the regrettable predominance of the curative, crisis management and costly emergency operation strategy over the preventive and more permanent and sustainable early warning and monitoring control strategy. The latter ensured a rapid response to Desert Locust outbreaks before they assumed serious proportions. The Conference was further briefed on the Director-General's proposal for the establishment of an Emergency Prevention System for Transboundary Animal and Plant Pests (EMPRES) which had already been approved by the Hundred and Sixth Session of the FAO Council.

106. The Conference noted the various bold initiatives taken by countries to combat the scourges of the Desert Locust in the face of financial and human resource constraints. Since locusts do not recognize national boundaries, it was imperative that countries cooperate and coordinate their programmes in combating the scourge. It was noted that the lack of political will in some countries was a factor that militated against efforts to address the situation.

107. The Conference supported the objective and priority of EMPRES which was to establish a system for early detection and control of locust upsurges in the Central Region, the identified zone of origin of almost all the locust outbreaks. It requested potential donors, as well as affected countries, to give their full support and cooperation in the implementation of EMPRES. The Conference further requested the Director-General to make an effort to extend this important programme to include the West and North-West recession invasion areas and other similarly afflicted areas.

108. The Conference recognized the fact that inspite of preventive control measures, Desert Locust upsurges and plagues could still occur, albeit with less frequency. In order to respond as quickly as possible to such emergencies, it urged countries to establish, with support from FAO and international donors, preparedness capabilities for future campaigns. Locust affected countries should prepare contingency plans that could be rapidly activated in times of emergencies, maintain regular monitoring programmes, and develop and support adequate infrastructures for Desert Locust surveys and control. Further, the activities of the FAO Desert Locust Commission and the three Regional Locust control organizations should be supported and FAO should be informed on the Desert Locust situations.

109. The Conference commended FAO for its unrelenting efforts in coordinating the control of the Desert Locust at the international level and recommended that it continue to provide assistance to the countries concerned in the preparation of future campaigns.

Representation of the region on the consultative group on international agricultural research (CGIAR)

110. In presenting the document12 on this agenda item, the Senior Officer, International Agricultural Research, Research and Technology Development Division, recalled that since the formation of CGIAR, the need had been recognized for active interaction between the CGIAR and the developing countries. This was necessary to assist national research systems in reaching a fully effective capacity for well-organized, science-based research. FAO was one of the co-sponsors of the CGIAR, participated in setting policy for the international agricultural research centres and monitored their work so as to ensure that the research priorities and needs of developing countries were addressed.

[12 ARC/94/5.]

111. He further recalled to the Conference that while policy and planning, organization and management continued to affect the performance of National Agricultural Research Centres (NARS), funding remained a major constraint to the development of productive agricultural systems in the Region. Increased food self-sufficiency and food self-reliance also continued to constitute a development priority for all African countries.

112. The Conference was informed that although the objectives of CGIAR were known it was, however, appropriate to recall its recently adopted goal, viz

"Through international research and related activities and in partnership with national research systems, to contribute to sustainable improvements in the production of agriculture forestry and fisheries in developing countries in ways that enhance the nutrition and well-being especially of low-income people."

113. The Conference recommended that CGIAR should give greater attention to sustainability issues and the needs of fragile ecosystems. It further recommended that CGIAR set and implement its research agenda through a participatory approach with the effective involvement of developing countries.

114. The Conference referred to and considered the procedures for facilitating adequate representation of developing countries on the CGIAR, and the criteria for selecting Member Nations and their responsibilities as illustrated in the background document. It also considered the new procedures suggested for the identification and recruitment of suitable candidates.

115. The Conference endorsed the criteria for the selection of Member Nations and proposals for an effective representation, including the identification and recruitment of suitable candidates which moved away from the old procedure of geographical representations. Regarding the inclusion of the regional representative in the national delegation to enable him/her to report to the Regional Conference, the Conference felt that ordinarily, the Member Nations would find it financially difficult and, thus, suggested that FAO find ways and means to facilitate their participation.

116. The Conference established an "open" Sub-committee to evaluate the candidatures and representation of the Region on CGIAR for the period 1995-98. Dr (Mrs) Ntombana Regina Gata of Zimbabwe was nominated by the Sub-committee and approved by the Conference to represent the Region accordingly. In a short acceptance speech to the Conference, Dr Gata expressed her thanks for her nomination and pledged to do her utmost to serve the interests of countries of the Region and to uphold the trust put in her.

Report of the follow-up to the international conference on nutrition (ICN)

117. The Regional Food and Nutrition Officer, RAFR, presented the document13 to the Conference in connection with this agenda item. He recalled that the International Conference on Nutrition (ICN), convened jointly by the FAO and WHO, had unanimously adopted the World Declaration and Plan of Action for Nutrition. The Plan of Action called for vigorous and concerted efforts at all levels to improve the nutritional status of all. The Plan of Action also provided policy guidelines and action areas for directing resources in order to raise productive capacities, improve social opportunities and human welfare, especially as regarded nutritional well-being.

[13 ARC/94/INF/5.]

118. The Conference was informed of actions taken by countries of the Region, as well as by FAO, to implement the recommendations of the ICN. Progress made to date in implementing the recommendations included, inter alia, substantive discussions in FAO Governing Bodies, meetings of relevant FAO and WHO Committees, and sessions of the ACC/SCN, all of which had reiterated calls for concerted actions at national level to implement the recommendations. Further, FAO and WHO were to jointly prepare a consolidated report on actions taken by UN agencies to implement the ICN World Declaration and Plan of Action.

119. It was explained to the Conference that work already carried out or scheduled during the biennium in the Africa Region would contribute to nutritional improvement and thus to the achievement of overall food security. In this regard, most countries had requested and received technical and financial assistance for the development of National Action Plans for Nutrition and ICN-related programmes. Also, FAO had supported national consultants, sponsored workshops and funded Technical Cooperation Programmes for implementing National Action Plans on Nutrition.

120. The Conference was told that FAO Country Representatives had been involved in the preparation of National Action Plans which had served as the framework for a number of sectoral and cross-sectoral activities during which the need for inter-ministerial and related institutional cooperation had been emphasized. At the regional level, FAO had also followed up on work in connection with the ICN. In collaboration with WHO, FAO had sponsored a series of inter-country meetings to promote regional collaboration and exchange of information on National Action Plans and other matters of relevance. Also similar meetings would be held in the future.

121. The Conference expressed its appreciation for the ongoing technical and financial assistance provided by the FAO to Member Nations in enhancing ICN follow-up activities and in preparing their Nutrition Action Plans. However, the Conference reiterated the fact that some of the targets set by the recommendations of the ICN were unattainable within the specified timeframe, especially in the face of the resource constraints experienced by many countries.

122. The Conference welcomed the initiative of FAO in highlighting the linkage between food and nutrition requirements on one hand, and agriculture and income generation on the other. Countries had not only instituted policies that increased food production but also those that generated income and improved economic access to food by members of the society. Early Warning and Food Information Systems had also been established and they had proved useful in guiding the more relevant application of government interventions. The Conference urged FAO to assist countries in integrating nutrition and food security strategies in their overall development planning and thereby to improve the nutritional status of their peoples, especially those in the poorer sections of society.

123. The Conference noted that such issues of human resource development as the training of personnel in food science and technology, as well as gender issues, were important elements of most of the themes of the ICN. These were explicitly reflected in the guidelines for the preparation of National Plans of Action for Nutrition.

124. The Conference urged Member Nations to improve their inter-sectoral mechanisms for addressing nutrition issues which would involve the more active participation of the food and agriculture sectors. In order to promote nutritional well-being in all activities in agriculture, fishery, forestry and rural development, the Conference recommended that new action programmes and approaches be formulated which would involve the objectives adopted at the ICN.

125. In order to strengthen national efforts for implementing ICN follow-up activities, the Conference further recommended that nutrition policies and considerations be integrated into National Action Plans and existing programmes.

126. The Conference recommended that FAO continue its support to countries to facilitate the preparation of National Plans of Action for Nutrition, as well as foster inter-agency cooperation at the country level on implementing ICN follow-up activities.

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