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Although the year 1996 was rich in momentous developments, the World Food Summit surely was among the major events of the year. The historic importance of the Summit should not be understated. Never before had leaders of the world gathered in such large numbers to work together for such a deserving cause.

The Summit has conveyed one fundamental message: although hundreds of millions of people around the world are still suffering from hunger and malnutrition, world food security is an achievable goal. Indeed, participants of the Summit committed themselves to halve the number of malnourished by the year 2015 at the latest. There is no doubt that securing food for all is an immense task. It is equally true, however, that no other endeavour can be compared in urgency with the achievement of world food security. This is so on moral grounds – freedom from hunger is a right of everyone, as was repeatedly emphasized at the Summit – but also because ensuring world food security is of critical interest to all, being a precondition for world peace and security.

We are confident that the Summit’s message has been heard. This optimism is derived from the fact that an impressive number of countries and parties, represented at the highest levels of technical competence and responsibility, worked together to make this meeting a success; heads of state and government unanimously endorsed the Rome Declaration and the World Food Summit Plan of Action, a realistic and necessary guide for defining and implementing food-related policies at the national and international levels; and many countries have already initiated activities aimed at translating the principles contained in the Plan of Action into specific policy action.

The State of Food and Agriculture this year reports that numerous concrete initiatives have recently been taken or strengthened to address the various dimensions of food security, including through formulating and coordinating the implementation of integrated food security programmes. We also welcome the fact that, after earlier positive signs, many poor countries have seen their prospects for food security further improve because of their success in creating a policy environment conducive to sustained economic and agricultural growth. Although economic and food security problems remain serious in Africa, the improvement made in much of the region over the past two years is most heartening in this respect. Furthermore, a number of countries in Latin America and the Caribbean and Asia and the Pacific appear to have entered a phase of solidly based growth, sustained in many cases by a good performance of the agricultural sector. The fact that many economies that are crucially dependent on commodity exports have shown resilience to the weakening prices of several of these commodities since 1994-95 has been a significant and encouraging feature of the past year.

Despite these positive developments we cannot ignore the fact that, for many parts of the world, the current situation and future prospects are less than bright. The global economic environment demonstrates many positive features and favourable trends, but it also shows uncertainties and latent risks, including that of perpetuating or even accentuating inequities. The concept of globalization could become a threat for many economies and large segments of society that are facing increasing risks of marginalization. Many delegations at the World Food Summit raised the point that privatization, free market and foreign direct investment cannot obviate the need for development aid; yet such aid, including for agricultural development, continues to shrink. Many countries continue to be ensnared by debt and therefore face major obstacles to creating a basis for sustainable growth or an environment that attracts foreign capital. Many others find it impossible to gain competitiveness to the extent and at the speed required by the rising tide of free trade. In these circumstances, it is hardly surprising that income and food security gaps among countries have tended to widen in recent years, as indicated in this publication.

This year’s special chapter of The State of Food and Agriculture focuses on the agroprocessing industry and its symbiotic links with economic and agricultural and rural development. The problem of food security is also related in a significant measure to the efficient processing and distribution of agricultural products. Agroprocessing industries represent in many countries an important component of overall economic activity and trade, as well as being a sizeable source of employment and income and, thus, access to food. The special chapter explores the rapidly changing conditions for agroprocessing development in the face of factors such as liberalizing world markets, technological innovation, changing patterns of consumption and the increasing importance of international capital activities in agro-industry. It focuses on the implications of these trends and issues for the developing countries and explores the policy lines that might optimize agro-industry’s contribution to sustainable economic and agricultural development.

Jacques Diouf



The State of Food and Agriculture 1997 was prepared by a team from the Agriculture and Economic Development Analysis Division, led by F.L. Zegarra and comprising J. Skoet, L. Glassco and S. Teodosijevic. Secretarial support was provided by S. Di Lorenzo and P. Di Santo. Statistical and research support was provided by G. Arena and P.L. Iacoacci.

Contributions and background papers for the World review were prepared by M. Palmieri (Forestry: production and trade), FAO Fisheries Department (Fisheries: catch, disposition and trade), L. Naiken and P. Narain (External assistance to agriculture), D. Vanzetti (Global climate change abatement policies: implications for developing countries), R. Stringer and L. Drewery (Raising women’s productivity in agriculture) and S.M. Braatz (Forests in a global context). The sections on food shortages and emergencies, the cereal market situation, food aid and international agricultural prices were prepared by the staff of the Commodities and Trade Division units supervised by J. Greenfield, P. Fortucci, W. Lamadé, A. Rashid and H. Ryan.

Contributions and background papers for the Regional review were prepared by P. Bonnard (Angola and Mozambique), D.H. Brooks (Asia and the Pacific), L. Glassco (Bangladesh), S. Hafeez (Near East and North Africa), J. Budavari (Central and Eastern Europe) and W. Liefert (Russian Federation).

The special chapter, Agroprocessing industry and economic development, was prepared by J. Skoet with contributions from P. Scandizzo, M. Spinedi and P. De Castro.

The State of Food and Agriculture 1997 was edited by R. Tucker. The graphics were prepared by G. Maxwell, the layout by M. Criscuolo with G. Ancona and S. Fava, cover and illustrations by O. Bolbol.



Association of Coffee Producing Countries


American Popular Revolutionary Alliance (Peru)


Asian Development Bank


Association of Southeast Asian Nations


Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation


Codex Alimentarius Commission


Common Agricultural Policy


Central European Free Trade Agreement


Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research


Commonwealth of Independent States


Common Market for East and Southern Africa


Consumer price index


Commission on Sustainable Development (UN)


Development Assistance Committee


Dietary energy supply


Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean


Economies highly dependent on agricultural exports


Economic Reform and Structural Adjustment Programme (Egypt)


Enhanced structural adjustment facility


European Union


Food Aid Convention


Foreign direct investment


Frente para a Libertação de Moçambique


Gulf Cooperation Council


General circulation models


Gross domestic product


Gross national product


Heavily indebted poor countries


High-yielding varieties


International Bank for Reconstruction and Development


International Cotton Advisory Committee


International Development Association


International Emergency Food Reserve


International Fund for Agricultural Development


International Food Policy Research Institute


International Monetary Fund


International Rice Research Institute


International Sugar Agreement


International Standard Industrial Classification of All Economic Activities (UN)


Low-income food-deficit countries


Southern Common Market


Minimum market access


Muriate of potash


Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola


Manufacturing value added


Non-governmental organization


Newly industrializing economies


Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development


Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries


Economic Rehabilitation Programme (Mozambique)


Programa de Reactivación Agropecuaria y Seguridad Alimentaria (Peru)


Programa Nacional de Ayuda a la Alimentación (Peru)


Producer subsidy equivalent


Resistência Nacional Moçambicana


South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation


Southern African Development Community


Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development


Triple superphosphate


United Nations Conference on Environment and Development


United Nations Conference on Trade and Development


United Nations Development Programme


United Nations Environment Programme


United Nations Industrial Development Organization


União Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola


West African Economic and Monetary Union


World Food Programme


World Health Organization


World Trade Organization

Explanatory note


The following symbols are used:

- = none or negligible (in tables)

... = not available (in tables)

$ = US dollars

Dates and units

The following forms are used to denote years or groups of years:

1996/97 = a crop, marketing or fiscal year running from one calendar year to the next

1996-97 = the average for the two calendar years

Unless otherwise indicated, the metric system is used in this publication.

"Billion" = 1 000 million.


Figures in statistical tables may not add up because of rounding. Annual changes and rates of change have been calculated from unrounded figures.

Production indices

The FAO indices of agricultural production show the relative level of the aggregate volume of agricultural production for each year in comparison with the base period 1989-91. They are based on the sum of price-weighted quantities of different agricultural commodities after the quantities used as seed and feed (similarly weighted) have been deducted. The resulting aggregate therefore represents disposable production for any use except seed and feed.

All indices, whether at the country, regional or world level, are calculated by the Laspeyres formula. Production quantities of each commodity are weighted by 1989-91 average international commodity prices and summed for each year. To obtain the index, the aggregate for a given year is divided by the average aggregate for the base period 1989-91.

Trade indices

The indices of trade in agricultural products are also based on the base period 1989-91. They include all the commodities and countries shown in the FAO Trade Yearbook. Indices of total food products include those edible products generally classified as "food".

All indices represent changes in current values of exports (free on board [f.o.b.]) and imports (cost, insurance, freight [c.i.f.]), expressed in US dollars. When countries report imports valued at f.o.b., these are adjusted to approximate c.i.f. values.

Volumes and unit value indices represent the changes in the price-weighted sum of quantities and of the quantity-weighted unit values of products traded between countries. The weights are, respectively, the price and quantity averages of 1989-91, which is the base reference period used for all the index number series currently computed by FAO. The Laspeyres formula is used to construct the index numbers.

Geographical designations

The Annex Table shows the regions and groupings in which countries are classified for statistical purposes.

Developing countries include those in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Near East and North Africa1 and Asia and the Pacific.2 The countries in transition are classified as developed countries.3

Country and city designations used in this publication are those current during the period in which the data were prepared.

1 The Near East and North Africa includes: Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.2 Asia and the Pacific also includes the former Asian centrally planned economies: Cambodia, China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Mongolia and Viet Nam.

3 The "countries in transition" include:Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Yugoslavia and the newly independent republics, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Republic of Moldova, Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.

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