V. Major trends and policies in food and agriculture
A. Statements by heads of delegations in the
B. World food and agricultural situation
C. Feasibility study on expanding the provision of agricultural inputs as aid-in-kind
D. Progress report on international agricultural adjustment
E. Second progress report on WCARRD programme of action, including the role of women in agricultural development
F. Agriculture: Toward 2000 (an updated and revised version of the FAO study of prospects for world agriculture up to the end of the century submited to the conference in 1979)
G. Progress report on the implementation of the international code of conduct on the distribution and use of pesticides.
A. Statements by heads of delegations in the general discussion
35. The Plenary General Discussion was opened by the Director-General. The text of his statement is given in Appendix D. Following this, 136 speakers participated in the discussion: the Independent Chairman of the Council, Heads of Delegations, of which 97 were Ministers or Vice-Ministers, the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to FAO, representatives of two UN bodies (United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the European Economic Community (EEC), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (Africa Liberation Movement), the Centre on Integrated Rural Development for Asia and Pacific (CIRDAP), and observers from six international non-governmental organizations which have consultative status with FAO. The statements of five Member Nations and two intergovernmental organizations with working relations with FAO were inserted in the records.
B. World food and agricultural situation
The state of food and agriculture (SOFA)
Progress of the campaign against locusts and grasshoppers
World food day
The state of food and agriculture (SOFA)
36. The Conference reviewed the world and regional food and agricultural situations on the basis of the Director-General's Report, The State of Food and Agriculture 1987 and its Supplement, and broadly concurred with its assessment.
37. The Conference noted with concern the continued unsatisfactory global economic and financial situation that, despite some signs of improvement such as reduced inflation and interest rates, through its negative impact on demand, exacerbated hunger and impeded agricultural trade growth as well as agricultural and rural development. Recent sharp falls in world stock markets and further depreciation of the dollar underlined the prevailing instability and uncertainty and rendered the economic outlook yet more discouraging. The Conference deplored the fact that the situation which had been created meant that the eighties had been a lost decade for development.
38. The Conference drew attention to two areas of particular contemporary concern. Firstly, international debt was a continuing crippling burden for the majority of the developing countries, undermining the results of their attempts to accelerate agricultural production growth, improve nutrition and protect the environment. A wider introduction of far-sighted measures of debt relief or increased financial assistance according to the situations of individual debtor countries, as had been already implemented by a few creditor countries in relation to some least developed countries, was urged. The capital outflow from developing countries as a result of higher debt servicing obligations coupled with sharp declines in prices of commodities from these countries and transfers of capital, particularly from external private sources, was an untenable situation. Some countries emphasized in addition that a key component in overcoming the debt problem was the pursuit of sound and balanced macroeconomic and sectoral policies by the debtor countries themselves.
39. Secondly, protectionism in trade and unbridled competition with the help of subsidies in agricultural markets, were unabated. Instability and tension in primary commodity markets, particularly for agricultural products, were undermining development efforts of the developing countries because of the resulting low and unstable prices and shrinking access to markets. The Conference called for a greater liberalization of trade, particularly in agriculture, and better discipline in trade practices. It looked to the ongoing Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations (MTN) under the aegis of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which had made a positive start, to achieve these objectives. It urged that every opportunity be taken to involve FAO in support of these negotiations in view of its expertise and experience in agriculture. The Conference also called for special and more favourable treatment for agricultural products of the developing countries. It was also urged that in the Uruguay Round the special interests of the major importing developing countries should be taken into account.
40. In moving towards a more equitable yet better managed international economic situation, the Conference emphasized the need for an integrated and global long-term approach to solving such issues, which would go beyond short-term actions. It noted the positive contributions and progress in the search for solutions to current major international problems, made by the various summits and meetings of groups of countries such as the Group of 77, the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) Ministerial Declaration, the Venice Summit of Leaders of major industrialized countries, and the Cairns Group (Cairns Group of Agricultural Fair Trading Countries). The Conference expressed the hope that these declarations would become positive facts.
41. The Conference noted with some alarm that the overall food production growth in 1987, with output barely increasing, was the worst since 1982 and well below the 1980-86 average. An erratic monsoon in Asia bringing both drought and damaging floods, and further setbacks in Africa had not been offset by a welcome recovery in Latin America and the Caribbean Region. Aggregate carry-overs of cereals in developing countries were expected to fall nearly 20 percent in 1987/88, to their lowest level in ten years.
42. The current world food situation, however, remained distorted with abundant supplies of cereals and other food commodities at the global level being highly unevenly distributed and mainly concentrated in developed countries, with many millions of people not having adequate access to food. Thus the improvement of recent years in food supplies at the aggregate level concealed a more fundamental and paradoxical problem whereby undernourishment persisted and even expanded in the midst of plenty. The Conference emphasized that adequate levels of nutrition were determined primarily by access to food, calling for greater attention to employment and income-generating activities.
43. The Conference noted with concern the evident renewed deterioration in the food and agricultural situation in Africa after two years of improvement, and that the economic crisis in Latin America and the Caribbean, the worst in fifty years, threatened increasing hunger in that region as well. The countries of Latin America and the Caribbean Region requested that the forthcoming FAO Study on Food and Agriculture in Latin America and the Caribbean Region should include an analysis of the harmful effects of foreign debt on the efforts towards finding solutions to the obstacles to rural, food and agricultural development by the countries of the Region.
44. The agricultural and economic situation in Africa presented a special problem and the Conference urged that FAO, building on its experience gained in preparing its study, African Agriculture: The Next 25 Years, and in cooperation with the international community, should urgently mobilize technical and financial resources to support efforts made by African governments themselves in implementing the United Nations Programme of Action for African Economic Recovery and Development (UN/PAAERD) 1986-90, in which agriculture had a central role.
45. In promoting agricultural development, the Conference urged that the emphasis be towards local production, based on the needs of small-scale farmers and the decentralization of decision making to the grass-root level. Reviving the viability of farming needed to be based on the restoration of distribution of inputs and the provision of adequate marketing facilities to permit local producers to exploit growing markets, particularly in urban areas. Sound technical packages were essential. Given the important effect that patterns and duration of rainfall had on production levels, extra attention should be given to better weather forecasting, wider use of irrigation, particularly that suitable for small-scale applications, and the introduction of drought-resistant varieties and improved dry land farming practices. FAO's role In the development of such packages was a crucial one. The Conference also urged FAO to step up its policy advice and training at the national level to help developing countries to formulate and implement the appropriate food and agricultural policies in line with national priorities and situations. It was suggested that FAO should intensify its assistance to developing countries in improving their statistical information on food and agriculture for evaluating the current situation and alternative policy options.
46. The Conference noted with much concern the growing pressures on the environment posed by rising populations, development needs and widespread poverty. The fast rate of deforestation, declining fishery stocks and increasing desertification, acid rains, forest fires and water contamination were but some manifestations of the widespread abuse of the environment. The Conference welcomed the recent reports of the UNEP ("Environmental Perspective to the Year 2000 and Beyond") and of the World Commission on Environment and Development (also known as the Brundtland Report), and noted that although environmental deterioration was not limited to the developing countries alone, serious economic difficulties were leading to a fast pace of degradation in these countries.
47. The Conference emphasized the far-reaching implications that implementing the concept of sustainable development would have for policies on overall development as well as for food and agriculture. There was a need to change attitudes towards conventional and fragmented approaches to development and to adopt an integrated policy stance that made ecological security a central issue. Sustainable development had to be based on the goal of preserving as far as possible the national resource base. The Conference, therefore, welcomed FAO initiatives listed in the documentation that marked important first steps in integrating environmental issues into agricultural and rural development processes, and urged that a fully integrated approach be followed in evolving future programmes for FAO and the UN system as a whole.
Progress of the campaign against locusts and grasshoppers
48. The Conference reviewed the emergency campaigns implemented against grasshoppers and locusts during 1986 and 1987 in Africa and Southwest Asia. It agreed that grasshoppers should be considered as national pests and that their control should aim at protecting crops and not at the eradication of the total insect populations. The Conference also noted that, at this time, grasshopper problems in the Sahel area had been generally reduced to their normal level, with the exception of the situation in a few areas where further action may be needed in 1988.
49. Migratory locusts, on the other hand, needed to be attacked at an early stage and every effort should be made to eliminate completely any upsurges. Migratory locusts were typically international problems and needed effective cooperation among all countries and the countries concerned in particular. The current desert locust situation was extremely worrying. There were important infestations in countries including Niger, Mali, Mauritania and Morocco, and in the event of these desert locust populations not being effectively controlled in the near future, a major desert locust plague could develop which would affect many countries.
50. The Conference noted that the overall costs of the control campaigns which had been carried out in 1986 and 1987 amounted to about US$ 100 million. The control efforts had been undertaken in close cooperation between the countries affected by migratory locust species and grasshoppers, the donor community and FAO. The FAO had established the Emergency Centre for Locust Operations (ECLO) to coordinate the various activities. At the country level, steering committees had been established, in which Government authorities and donors appraised together the often rapidly evolving situation and determined the needs required. Technical personnel were recruited as needed to assist the steering committees. Various meetings, dealing with technical aspects, evaluation of campaigns and planning of programmes, had been organized by FAO with all parties concerned.
51. The Conference noted the different approaches that had been followed in the preparation of the control of grasshoppers in the Sahel for 1986 and 1987. In 1986, the various commitments had been made after the start of the crop season and after the beginning of the grasshopper infestations; in 1987, action was agreed upon and assistance was committed well in advance of the various events. Based on the evolution of the insect infestations in both seasons, in the latter approach the requirements had been overestimated, as unfavourable rains limited the infestations to a much more reduced scale than originally estimated.
52. The Conference noted that the grasshoppers and migratory locust species had been controlled effectively in most cases and considered that the campaigns had been successful. It commended FAO for its effective coordinating role and expressed its strong appreciation to the donor community for their generous contribution and bilateral assistance programmes as well as to the Governments in the countries concerned for their effective cooperation in the implementation of the campaigns. It stressed that large numbers of farmers had been trained, as had plant protection staff. Many countries were now much better equipped to face grasshopper and locust problems. It considered that the past programmes should serve as a basis to further strengthen plant protection capabilities at both the national and regional levels and FAO was requested to assist accordingly. The Conference also noted that grasshoppers and locusts continued to be problems in Central and South America and that FAO should ensure effective cooperation with these areas for their control.
53. The Conference expressed concern over the potential negative environmental impact of the various control operations. In particular it emphasized the need to use effective but not excessive dosages and to test new pesticides which would provide greater safety both in their use and storage for man and the environment. In addition, environmental impact assessment should be a continuous process in this type of operation, and, to the extent possible, wide scale applications of pesticides should be avoided.
54. The Conference expressed great concern over these infestations of desert locust in the Sahel and North West Africa, and recommended that the countries concerned give high priority to locust control actions with the support of the international donor community and with the coordination of FAO. The Conference also recommended to accord particular importance to preventive actions in the areas of reproduction of the migratory locusts. It stressed that emergency and medium-term plans had been developed and that every effort should be made for the immediate implementation of the various activities. It also recommended that FAO continue to be closely involved in the organization and coordination of the control operations. This should include, in particular, strengthening of the surveillance and information network, the development of global surveillance and control strategies and the mobilization of the resources required, as well as the identification of further research needs. The Conference requested the Director-General to convene as soon as possible a group of experts to develop these plans and requested that they be submitted to an early meeting of the FAO Desert Locust Control Committee for their examination and approval.
55. The Conference emphasized the importance of establishing effective and sustainable systems of communication, coordination and control at the national, regional and global level. It stressed the important role of FAO and recommended that every effort be made to strengthen the Organization's capabilities in this respect. The Conference requested FAO to cooperate closely with donors and also with the existing regional and global structures and organizations and help to ensure that they operated in an effective manner. It welcomed the action taken by FAO for a systematic review of the situation, in particular the strengthening of national migratory pest control and plant protection capabilities. The Conference stressed the importance of training in support to national and regional structures and institutions.
World food day
56. The Conference commended the Secretariat for the contents and quality of the document "World Food Day Assessment (1981-1987) and Future Directions", which contained a review of World Food Day since its establishment and proposals for the future. The ethical dimension of World Food Day, comprising the concepts of justice, equity and human solidarity, which inspired the original objectives of the event, were strongly reiterated as the driving force behind World Food Day activities being organized throughout the world. The Conference recommended the implementation of the type of activities suggested in document C 87/29 at national, regional and international levels, in order to ensure the fulfilment of the World Food Day objectives.
57. The Conference expressed satisfaction for the effectiveness and usefulness of World Food Day in promoting public awareness, in advancing efforts to alleviate hunger and in building food security for all, through the wide range of activities organized by Member Nations, notably in the areas of information and education. The Conference also welcomed the outstanding participation of non-governmental organizations in the planning and implementation of many of these endeavours.
58. The definition of themes for World Food Day, such as the role of women in rural development, small farmers, and artisan fishermen, were considered especially useful in focusing attention on groups with special needs and in providing guidance to World Food Day organizers. The Conference called for an earlier decision on themes each year so that national-level planning could begin well in advance of World Food Day.
59. The Conference noted with satisfaction that the vitality of World Food Day had been demonstrated by growth in three important and significant ways: from a day's event to year-around action; from a formal ceremony to universal and decentralized involvement; and from local or national participation to regional and international collaboration in a common effort. The Conference urged the continued facilitation and coordination of all such efforts in order to ensure even greater substantive results from World Food Day.
60. The Conference requested the FAO Secretariat to continue supporting World Food Day activities at country level through the provision of information, publications and other relevant materials which would facilitate the planning and implementation of World Food Day at national and regional levels.
61. The Conference adopted the following Resolution:
WORLD FOOD DAY
Recalling Resolution 1/79 establishing World Food Day, as well as Resolutions 7/81 and 5/83 which strongly recommended the intensification of efforts in the observance of this event,
Aware that World Food Day has achieved wide recognition as a focal point for reflection on world food problems and has mobilized effective action for the necessary long-term effort to overcome widespread malnutrition,
Considering that World Food Day has efficiently promoted people's participation in the search for solutions to hunger problems, as intended by FAO Member Nations when they decided to establish World Food Day at the Twentieth Session of the Conference,
Appreciating the prompt and outstanding response by Member States of the Organization in the planning and implementation of World Food Day activities at country level, which have ensured the achievement of most of the original objectives defined by the international community at the establishment of this initiative,
Recognizing and approving the important role which non-governmental organizations have played in bringing the Day to global prominence,
Appreciating the contribution provided in this sense by document C 87/29 "World Food Day Assessment (1981-1987) and Future Directions" that was presented to the Conference,
Persuaded that, in light of the above, the opportunity now exists for a further expansion and deepening of activities attaching to this event:
1. Expresses its gratitude for the contribution of Member Governments and all non-governmental organizations helping to build support for this annual observance;
2. Underscores the need for World Food Day activities to promote concepts of equity and human dignity, as recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international covenants and undertakings;
3. Urges Member Governments to make all possible efforts to establish - or to strengthen if they already exist - World Food Day National Committees, in order to pursue the positive trend of moving away from a stogie-day observance to a year-round programme of constructive action, and from ceremonial observances to more substantive activities addressing food-related issues;
4. Recommends that Member Governments, non-governmental organizations and the FAO Secretariat work together as much as possible in the planning, coordination and implementation of World Food Day activities, in order to enhance the international nature of this event, following the concepts and ideas contained in document C 87/29 ("World Food Day Assessment (1981-1987) and Future Directions");
5. Requests that the Director-General make all efforts to continue the effective coordination of World Food Day activities throughout the world;
6. Recommends that the FAO Secretariat make a sustained effort to broaden international support for World Food Day through cooperation with other United Nations agencies and programmes and relevant international non-governmental organizations (INGOs);
7. Encourages the FAO Secretariat to facilitate in all possible ways other initiatives for international World Food Day planning and programmes, especially in the areas of information and material exchange;
8. Urges that Member Governments and others involved in World Food Day planning give a more prominent role to the concept of people's participation, considering also how World Food Day programmes implemented at the national level could support the goals of the Programme of Action of the World Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development.
(Adopted 26 November 1987)
C. Feasibility study on expanding the provision of agricultural inputs as aid-in-kind
62. Most Member Nations considered that the document "Report of the Feasibility Study on Expanding Aid-in-Kind of Farm Inputs" contained a comprehensive analysis of a very complex issue. The document had brought together a wealth of data and information of value to both recipients and donors. Some Member Nations felt that this document, because it focussed on aid-in-kind, took too narrow a view of problems in agricultural production which should be approached in an integrated way.
63. The Conference accepted the Report's conclusion that inputs would inevitably play a critical role in raising agricultural production and productivity in Africa. It also agreed that balance of payment difficulties prevented some countries from importing ale of their needs on commercial terms and they were therefore dependent on input assistance.
64. The Conference agreed that there was no single solution to input supply problems and that aid-in-kind and programme aid for inputs should be tailored to individual country needs and complemented by measures to address problems relating to the other three aspects of agricultural development - incentives, institutions and infrastructure.
65. The Conference noted that there was a widening gap at the national level between input requirements and availabilities. It acknowleged that there were essentially three approaches for closing the gap - boosting local production; supporting intra-regional trade; and increasing imports from outside the region.
66. The Conference noted that aid-in-kind and other forms of input assistance were already being provided, to a greater or lesser degree, by most multilateral and bilateral donors. It acknowledged that this assistance was making an important contribution to meet input supply requirements.
67. The Conference recognized that there were a range of opinions concerning the relative merits of aid-in-kind or financial aid for inputs. It agreed that there had been a number of problems in the way some recipients had handled such aid and the way some donors had provided it. The Conference supported the Report's conclusion that a number of actions were possible and desirable to mitigate such problems. It agreed that, in the main, these actions should be concentrated at the national level and should, wherever possible, be conducted through existing institutions.
68. The Conference noted the need to strengthen national capabilities for input policy analysis, identification of input requirements, monitoring and control of supplies and to improve supporting services in the public and private sectors for credit, marketing, transport and storage. It noted the need to provide input aid on a systematic basis, and supported the concept of multi-year commitments.
69. The Conference recognized that there could be mutual benefits for donor and recipient countries from an expansion of aid-in-kind and other forms of assistance to obtain inputs. However, it was agreed that the existence of surplus capacity in donor countries was not and should not be the stimulus for greater input aid. In this respect, the Conference noted the need for technical assistance and training to improve the capacity of recipient countries to formulate input production and use policies and programmes and to improve public and private sector input delivery systems.
70. The Conference agreed that aid-in-kind might create certain problems in recipient countries unless the aid was suitably selected and measures taken to ensure its appropriate and efficient use. It noted in particular that aid-in-kind could have adverse effects on indigenous production systems.
71. The Conference welcomed the special emphasis that had been placed on donor support to local production of inputs where this was an economically viable option. It accepted that triangular transactions could improve the capacity utilization of local manufacturers and use of local raw materials and help to foster intra-regional trade so they should receive further consideration.
72. A number of countries felt that aid-in-kind should be additional to existing aid flows. Certain other countries considered that this was unrealistic and that greater aid-in-kind could take resources away from other areas of development assistance. Some of these countries also feared that aid-in-kind could lead to a greater degree of tied aid. The Conference supported the idea that recipients should be responsible for any decisions as to the nature, volume and priority of aid-in-kind in relation to other forms of aid. Such responsibilities should ensure that aid-in-kind was in line with local requirements and consistent with the priorities of the recipient.
73. The Conference considered the possible role of FAO in implementing or conducting further analysis of the actions recommended by the Report. It agreed that FAO had the mandate and a major role to play primarily as an agricultural policy adviser in follow-up at the national level. Some Member Nations stressed that this role should be performed through existing institutional mechanisms, including the office of the FAO Representative, and that they were opposed to the creation of new administrative bodies.
74. Many Member Nations agreed with proposals that new initiatives like inputs for work, weed control and feed aid should only be started on a pilot basis in a limited number of countries. Any further expansion should take place in the light of this experience. Other Member Nations, however, stated that they were strongly opposed to FAO's involvement in any new operational activities in this area.
75. Most Member Nations endorsed the proposal that guidelines for input assistance should be developed and adopted. Such work should be undertaken in collaboration with other bilateral and multilateral organizations. Some Member Nations felt that general guidelines were unnecessary and the important focus should be at the national level.
76. The Conference reiterated its support for FAD action to assist Member Governments with the establishment of suitable policy and planning frameworks for input assistance, analysis of technological choices, identification of input needs, operation of input data systems, and coordination of actions at the sectoral level.
D. Progress report on international agricultural adjustment
77. The Conference reviewed progress in International Agricultural Adjustment on the basis of the Director-General's Sixth Progress Report. It considered that the report was welt prepared, comprehensive and presented a fair picture of progress achieved. Several Member Nations thought that a number of the Guidelines and Targets for International Agricultural Adjustment were obsolete and should be revised and updated. Another Member Nation, however, expressed its opposition to these suggestions.
78. The Conference discussions touched upon all guidelines but most discussions concentrated on Guidelines 7 and 8 which dealt with issues of trade and protectionism. A large majority of Member Nations agreed on the need to dismantle trade protectionism in order to ensure fair and stable prices for agricultural commodities.
79. The Conference noted that the growth of food and agricultural production in the developing countries as a whole during the period 1980-85 came close to meeting the objective of four percent a year as set out in Guideline 1. However, the aggregate growth rate had slowed down considerably in 1986 and 1987 as a result of, among other things, unfavourable weather. Additional analysis was required to explain differences among countries in agricultural performance.
80. The Conference welcomed the tendency in many developing countries to pay greater attention to improved agricultural policies, often in the context of wider policy reform for macroeconomic adjustment. It noted with concern, however, that the external environment for the success of such policies continued to be unfavourable and that adjustment policies adversely affected the food and nutrition situation of the poor, at least in the short term. The Conference called upon FAO to play a more active role in agricultural policy analysis and related support to countries in the context of economic adjustment programmes in accordance with the national policies and priorities of those countries.
81. The Conference welcomed the ongoing policy debate in OECD aiming at reform of agricultural policies, with a view to promoting international market transparency and to removing some of the causes inhibiting the orderly development of agricultural trade. It also deplored the continuation of protectionism and subsidies that stimulated production in excess of market demand, distorted allocation of resources, depressed international market prices, and adversely affected policies and production in the developing countries. It noted with satisfaction that the method developed over many years by FAO in the context of International Agricultural Adjustment and elaborated by OECD for measuring agricultural support in terms of producer subsidy equivalents (PSEs) was proving to be a valuable tool in this debate. It was suggested that more work should be done to make the measurement of agricultural support more comprehensive and comparable among countries.
82. The Conference noted with concern that the external debt and the high cost of its servicing and the deterioration of the terms of trade in many developing countries had adversely affected the flow of resources to agriculture and the use of inputs such as fertilizer. It called for more efforts to increase the flow of resources to agriculture from both domestic and external sources and to increase the efficiency of resource use through appropriate policies, including policies designed to safeguard the environment in order to sustain agricultural production systems.
83. The Conference emphasized the need for continued efforts to ensure wider and more equitable access of the small farmers and landless peasants to agricultural resources, inputs, improved technology and services, as well as to encourage participation of rural people in the development process. In this context, efforts to enhance the status of women and their role in agricultural and rural development should continue to receive the utmost priority. The Conference noted that the topics of Guidelines 3 and 4 would be also discussed under Agenda Item 9.
84. The Conference noted that there was growing emphasis on food policy and planning in the developing countries. An increasing number of countries had set up national food and nutrition policy and planning units and incorporated nutritional considerations into their development plans and the preparation of projects. At the same time increasing overall economic problems had made it difficult for governments to intervene and support the incomes and food consumption levels of the poor.
85. The Conference welcomed the decision of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade contracting parties to include agriculture in the Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations and the recent proposals made for the reform of agricultural policies in the context of the objectives of the Punta del Este Declaration. As these negotiations would take several years to conclude and implement, the Conference emphasized the need for some immediate measures to be taken to combat the difficulties of world agricultural trade, notably the application to agriculture of the standstill and rollback commitments of the Punta del Este Declaration and the preservation of the principle of differential and more favourable treatment to the developing countries. The Conference urged FAO to play a more active supportive role in the multilateral trade negotiations, particularly in support of the participation of the developing countries.
86. The Conference noted with concern that in recent years international market prices of primary commodities had sharply declined and had been very unstable and that the climate was, on the whole, very unfavourable for the negotiation of international commodity agreements. It was, however, considered encouraging that some progress had been made in recent months, e.g. the reintroduction of export quotas by the International Coffee Council and the UNCTAD VII (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development) agreement to revitalize aspects of the Integrated Programme for Commodities. At the same time the prospects for the entry into force of the Agreement on the Common Fund for Commodities in the near future had improved.
87. The Conference noted that agricultural trade among developing countries had assumed considerable importance. However, the rising trend had been reversed in recent years as a result of the general economic recession and the decline in world agricultural trade, though such trade had declined less than the agricultural exports of the developing countries to the developed countries. There had also been progress in the technical cooperation among developing countries in the area of inputs, particularly fertilizers and pesticides. The Conference called for more efforts to enhance EC DC (Economic Cooperation among Developing Countries) and TCDC (Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries).
88. The Conference noted with satisfaction that cereal supplies and stocks continued to be plentiful at the global level. It deplored the fact that according to forecasts stocks in the developing countries were expected to decline by the end of the 1987/88 crop year to their lowest level in a decade. The Conference stressed that the main global issue in food security remained the serious difficulties of the poor countries and population groups to benefit from global plenty.
89. Plentiful global supplies mainly concentrated in developed countries had made possible the maintenance of cereals food aid at nearly 12 million tons in 1986/87. Some Member Nations thought that the targets for food aid and the IEFR (International Emergency Food Reserve) referred to in Guideline 11 were outdated and needed updating.
90. The Conference regretted that the targets of Guideline 12 for external assistance to the agriculture of the developing countries had not been met. It considered that all efforts should be made to increase the flows of external assistance to agriculture.
91. The Conference recognized that there was a certain degree of duplication between the progress report on International Agricultural Adjustment and other FAO documents, e.g. the State of Food and Agriculture, the Progress Report on the WCARRD Programme of Action and reports to the Committee on World Food Security and the Committee on Commodity Problems. It considered that significant changes did not occur as frequently as every two years in some of the variables covered in the Guidelines and Targets for the International Agricultural Adjustment.
92. The Conference decided to change the periodicity of progress reports on the implementation of the Guidelines and Targets for International Agricultural Adjustment from biennially to once every four years. The Seventh Progress Report should, therefore, be submitted to the Twenty-sixth Session of the Conference in 1991. The Conference nevertheless decided to review progress on Guidelines 7, 8 and 12 at its Twenty-fifth Session, in 1989. The information required for this review could be provided either in the State of Food and Agriculture or in a separate document. Some countries considered that the periodicity of reporting every two years should have been retained and that this was particularly important for the Twenty-fifth Session of the Conference as a progress report in 1989 could be a contribution of FAO to the formulation of the UN International Development Strategy for the 1990s.