Consideration of the technical committee report
Date and place of the nineteenth FAO regional conference for Africa
Adoption of the report of the conference
Closure of the conference
127. The Conference considered and approved the Technical Committee Report unanimously.
128. The Delegation of Burundi renewed its offer to host the Nineteenth FAO Regional Conference for Africa. Cogent reasons were presented why its previous offer could not materialize, and a number of delegations supported Burundi's offer. The Conference noted this offer which would be conveyed to the Director-General of FAO, who would decide on the date and place of the Conference in consultation with Member Governments. The delegations from Uganda and Angola affirmed that in the event that Burundi withdrew its offer, then they would offer to host the Nineteenth FAO Regional Conference. The delegation from South Africa made an open offer to host a Conference in the future.
129. The Conference considered and, after some amendments, adopted its report by acclamation.
130. In a brief statement, the Officer-in-Charge of the FAO Regional Office for Africa and FAO Deputy Regional Representative for Africa, recapitulated the accomplishments and outcome of the Conference. He said that the major theme that emerged from the deliberations of the Conference was the recognition that the Africa Region was typified by contrasts topographically, physio-graphically, climatically, ecologically, economically, culturally, ethnically, socially and agriculturally, conditions which were reflected in the diversified agricultural commodities produced. Developmentally, the Region was in all stages of agricultural and rural development ranging from hunting and gathering fruits, to modern capital-intensive agriculture.
131. He referred to the many productive resources of Africa as highlighted by delegates, and the related problems and challenges in trying to utilize them. He noted that the Conference had discussed these problems and mentioned FAO's priorities in assisting countries meet these challenges and solve the related problems. The Conference had endorsed the priorities established by the Director-General on food security with a primary focus on low-income, food-deficit countries and rational use of water resources to bring into productive use potentially irrigable land. Given the intensification of the vagaries of weather, it was recognized that the Region could not rely on rainfed agriculture alone, and there was an urgent need for greater efforts to be made in expanding irrigated agriculture.
132. The Conference had agreed that declarations made during international conferences on water use and management should be translated into concrete programmes and projects at national, sub-regional and regional levels in support of the necessary expansion in irrigated agriculture to mitigate violent fluctuations in output from non-irrigated agriculture. This required a strong political will and commitment by the governments to increase investment in irrigation. He enumerated further supporting the ameliorative measures discussed and proposed.
133. He reaffirmed that the potential for expanding intraregional trade and development was greatly boosted by the existence of technical complementarity due to alternate agricultural production seasons between countries in the northern and south of equator, and was appropriately complemented by technical cooperation among developing countries. They should be strengthened through prudent macro-economic policy management, and regional harmonization of macro-economic policies of the countries in the Region.
134. Such deliberate intraregional trade promotion would exploit the comparative advantage in agricultural production and trade that potentially existed. Given the resurgence of pests and diseases of plants and animals, some new, others old, it was the consensus of the Conference that regional cooperation in their control should be strengthened, and national and regional institutions dealing with their control should also be strengthened. Accordingly the Conference unanimously endorsed the Director-General's programme to strengthen institutional capacities of institutions concerned with pest and disease control.
135. Finally he recalled that the Conference had welcomed and supported the Director-General's proposal to hold a World Food Summit in Rome in early 1996, and the willingness on the part of countries to assist in the preparation of the Summit. The Conference unanimously endorsed the Director-General's measures to restructure the Organization, in particular the decentralization programme and the establishment of sub-regional offices. FAO, within the limits of available resources, would provide support in particular through studies, training and project/programme generation to increase investment flows into agricultural and rural sectors.
136. In moving the vote of thanks, Mr Ibrahim Adam, the Minister of Agriculture of the Republic of Ghana, on behalf of all the delegates, expressed deep appreciation and thanks first to the President, Government and People of the Republic of Botswana for their excellent facilities and reception to ensure that the Eighteenth FAO Regional Conference came to such a very successful conclusion.
137. Similarly he expressed his thanks to the Director-General, his staff and all those who assisted in the preparation of the stimulating Conference background documents for their perception in bringing such current issues of relevance to the attention of the Conference. This had made their stay most worthwhile and, inspite of the sometimes gloomy forecasts, he affirmed that delegates in their statements and deliberations had shown that African countries were indeed taking action with much enthusiasm to tackle most, if not all, of their agricultural-related problems. This had greatly inspired much hope for the continent in the future. He congratulated his colleagues for participating in one of the most useful and relaxing FAO Regional Conferences ever.
138. In his closing remarks, the Chairman of the Conference, Mr Roy Blackbeard, Minister of Agriculture of the Republic of Botswana, expressed appreciation and gratitude for the kind word of thanks expressed to the President, Government and People of Botswana, as well as to him as Chairman of the Conference, for its successful organization in Botswana. He said it had been a privilege for him to have chaired the function and, along with the country, felt highly honoured.
139. He referred to the opening address by H.E. the President of the Republic in which he catalogued some of the ills and sad state of affairs of African agriculture that food and agricultural production in Africa had not kept pace with its population growth. The rampant malnutrition and food insecurity in the countries, was also noted as being indeed worrisome. Agricultural development was basic to overall economic and social development in the countries, and consequently the agricultural sector was most important and needed urgent attention.
140. He commended FAO for its untiring efforts and actions taken so far to assist the countries improve their agricultural sector in general and to the in-depth analytical documents presented at this Eighteenth Regional Conference, in particular. He expressed his delight and confidence that from the statements and debates from the Ministers and others present, there was hope that delegates would return to their countries prepared and determined to tackle the problems that inhibited African agricultural development.
141. He reaffirmed that there were bright hopes for the future in that, as exhibited in this Conference, countries had embraced the concept of mutual cooperation for agricultural development, had realized the importance of sharing experiences and of developing trade links, had agreed to improve their water resources management and irrigation at both the country and inter-country levels, and had agreed to come together in various other issues of common interest. FAO had also agreed to help the countries institute measures that would improve their water management and food security.
142. He thanked all those who had in various ways helped to make the Eighteenth FAO Regional Conference fruitful and successful, and wished delegates and others travelling a safe journey back to their countries.
143. The Conference was then declared closed.