D. Statement by the director-general
Mr. Chairman, Excellencies, Distinguished delegates and observers, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Policy Role of FAO Conference. It is once again my privilege to address the FAO Conference which is the supreme Coverning Body of this Organization, deciding its policies, programmes and relationships with Member Governments and other Organizations and institutions.
It is in effect the Summit Meeting of the Agriculture Ministers of the World. only in this forum do a hundred or so Ministers met biennially to deal with all food and agricultural issues which are of fundamental importance to world economic and social development. It is important that this global, high-level policy role should be maintained and advanced.
World Food Situation. Two years ago, when I reviewed the world situation, there were some encouraging features to report, but on the whole I was obliged to pain- a sombre picture.
I had hoped that today I would be able to present some indications of progress. It is, however, my sad duty to underline the fact that in all respects or nearly all, the situation has deteriorated further. It is in fact grim.
Disasters and Emergencies. A major aspect of this deterioration has been the unusual number of natural disasters and emergencis in the last two years.
By prompt action, we have helped to overcome most of these crises. The UN/FAO World Food Programme and FAO itself have played a leading role. The international community has also responded.
Emergency Food Aid. In the last two years, 108 emergency food aid allocations comprising 540 000 tons, costing some. $177 million, have been made to 53 countries for the relief of more than 28 millions of threatened and hungry people. Thanks to FAO's Technical Cooperation Programme, we have been able to provide help to 49 countries, totaling nearly $9 million to meet emergency needs in the agricultural sector, including equipment and inputs. Under the Office for Special Relief Operations emergency assistance has been provided to 37 countries, totaling nearly $15 million. And other amounts have been mobilized in the form of special contributions and bilateral aid.
In the case of the desert locust, prompt action was successful in holding off a major threat to large areas of the Near East and Africa. It is to be hoped that the threats of African Swine Fever and other animal diseases can similarly be held at bay.
Kampuchea. There remains, however, the unparalleled tragedy which has stricken untold thou sands of people in Kampuchea and the surrounding areas. Even in a century hardened by dread full experiences., the brutalities of war, civil conflict, huge earthquakes and floods, nuclear and other deadly pollution, our humanitarian duty has hardly ever been so glamorously and clearly challenged as it is now by the plight of those people.
A relief operation is now under way on a strictly humanitarian and non-political basis, to aid the people of Kampuchea. I have approved over 36 000 tons in emergency aid from the World Food Programme. We have started to supply seeds and other inputs to get agriculture moving again. Our action is part of a massive effort by the United Nations system and the Red Cross, for which over $200 million has so far been pledged.
Apart from emergencies, the trend in the world food situation in the last two years has been unsatisfactory.
Food Situation. Thirty-two countries are facing unfavourable crop conditions. Wheat and coarse grains production will fall by some 62 million tons in 1979 and is estimated at 3 percent below the longer-term trend. Rice production also is forecast to be about 2 percent less than last year. Production of cereals will thus fall significantly short of consumption requirements.
The number of undernourished, mostly women and children, in developing countries continues to increase.
At the same time, cereal imports of developing countries are steadily -rising. During the 1970s they have grown more than twice as fast as in the 1960s. And the recent increases in grain prices could add $2 billion to their import bill, while in 1978 the prices of jute, rubber, and tea were only half their 1960 level compared to the world prices of manufactured goods.
In absolute terms and as a proportion of total cereal imports of the vulnerable developing countries, food aid remains much less than it was in the late 1960s.
The failure earlier this year of the United Nations Negotiating Conference on a New International Grains Arrangement has left a dangerous gap in world food security.
World Food Security and FAO's Five-Point Plan. I considered that this gap should be filled. I proposed to the Committee on World Food Security and to the Council earlier this year a Five-Point Plan of Action focussed on some of the most immediate food security problems, particularly in the low-income food deficit countries.
The Committee on World Food Security and the Council supported the Plan. As requested by the Council, I have submitted to you a Progress Report on its implementation and proposals for immediate as well as long-term action.
You will note from this document that developments have unfortunately confirmed and strengthened the pessimistic assessment which I made of the situation when I first proposed my Five-Point Plan.
Nor would the Arrangement which was originally proposed fit the requirements for food security under the conditions now prevailing and in the foreseeable future. The impending discussions in the International Wheat Council may throw some new light on the prospects for future negotiations.
I trust however that this will not be used as another pretext for delaying implementation of the Plan already approved by the FAO Council.
Lack of Progress with the NIEO. In fact, none of the well-known targets or, as some prefer to call them, estimates for food security, food production, food aid, especially emergency food aid, fertilizer supply, agricultural adjustments, official development assistance to agriculture, have been met. It would be pointless to gloss over the sense of disappointment and frustration concerning the lack of progress so far made towards satisfying the hopes raised at the beginning of the Second Development Decade.
This remains essentially true whether one reviews progress of the implementation of the recommendations of the World Food Conference, or the effects on the developing countries of continued, even increased, protectionism, of the deteriorating terms of trade, of the adverse effects of inflation, of the inequitable operation of the international monetary system, of the debt burden, of the fall in the GNP percentage of concessional aid from most OECD countries, or the comparison of all this with the appalling rise in armaments expenditures.
We are in effect still living in an international economic jungle in which the strong, especially the wild beasts of transnationalism, prey on the poor, the thickets of privilege and protectionism are only intermittently thinned, and continuing currency instability, mounting debt, insatiable inflation and ruthless recession and unemployment threaten many countries.
The jungle stretches beyond the tropics. Even within Europe, and between Europe and other developed continents, these phenomena exist and are producing, outbreaks of fever or even hysteria between allies and friends.
In such circumstances, the milk of human kindness in international relations tends to be strained. Nevertheless, a duty lies upon all leaders to take a courageous stand against the forces of darkness and reaction which are poisoning international relations.
This is precisely the time when the developed countries should not strengthen their protective barriers against nor reduce concessional aid to developing countries. The effect on the developing countries will certainly be disastrous at a time when they are facing in much greater measure the consequence of inflation and recession elsewhere.
For the rich countries to take measures which aggravate the situation in the poor countries would indeed be a fool's policy.
The fact is that although the developed countries are troubled by unemployment and inflation, these are of relatively minor dimensions compared to the problems faced by the developing countries.
I trust, therefore, that current moves by the oil producing countries to help Third World countries will provide an effective remedy to this complex and difficult situation. Equally, I hope that all food aid donors will follow the lead given by the United States, Canada and the Nordic Countries, by agreeing to a new and enlarged Food Aid Convention without waiting for the conclusion of a Wheat Trade Convention.
The richer countries cannot solve their problems except in a world context of inter-dependence. At present this inter-dependence rests not on a basis of equity but, on the contrary, upon injustice and inequality.
WCARRD. The existence of injustice and inequality both nationally and between nations was a basic theme of the World Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development held in Rome last July.
It was a truly remarkable Conference in many respects, as was strikingly evidenced by the fact that it was attended by no less than 4 Heads of State, 88 Ministers, 1 400 delegates and observers from 144 countries.
Despite the reservations expressed by some on various points, the Declaration of Principles and Programme of Action which it adopted have a deep moral force and constitute objectives which will be ignored at everyone's peril.
In my closing speech to the World Conference, I drew attention to the unique character of the Programme of Action it adopted. This was that countries will consider action to set up specific targets for themselves, to make reports on progress towards them; and to authorize the Food and Agriculture Organization and other organizations of the United Nations Systems to help not only in preparing the necessary methodology but also in monitoring and evaluating various aspects of progress at the national and international level.
Follow-up Action. You have before you my proposals as requested by the one Resolution adopted by the World Conference for follow-up of the Declaration of Principles and Programme of Action.
I have proposed a target of $20 million for voluntary contributions over the next 2 to 4 years. It is vital that this very modest target be met.
In fact, when with the hindsight of various subsequent developments I consider my record on this and other programme and budgetary issues in the face of so many urgent and vital situations in Member Nations crying out for FAO's direct, practical action, I can only feel some surprise now, tinged with a hint of guilt at my moderation.
Changes in FAO since 1976. 1 feel this all the more in view of the widely acknowledged success of the new policies, programmes and methods that I proposed in July 1976 and that you approved.
When I presented my reforms in July 1976, 1 stressed that the concepts were dynamic and that I would not like the organization to lapse into complacent conservatism. My intention was that FAO should change with the times and be master of its own development.
I think I may be allowed to claim on your behalf that we have indeed maintained a dynamic and positive strategy and have given the necessary momentum to concrete and effective action to meet the real needs of our Member Countries.
Decentralization. The process of decentralization has been steadily pressed forward. We now have 47 FAO Representatives in place and, if this Conference agrees, we shall, during 1980-81, reach a total of 62 Representatives, working harmoniously with the governments to whom they are accredited and with the representatives of the UNDP and other Agencies in the pursuit of the development objectives of the countries.
The Technical Cooperation Programme is a major instrument of the decentralization process expressed in action at the country level. After a thorough evaluation, the Technical Cooperation Programme has been found to be soundly conceived and to be effectively administered in accordance with the mandates conferred upon me.
Indeed, I venture to observe that the establishment of FAO Representatives and of the Technical Cooperation Programme can now be seen in the light of what I intended, namely as the means of bringing the Organization without harm to any vested interest more directly in contact with and making it responsive to the concrete needs of its Member Countries.
FAO in Action. Without anticipating your discussions, I wish to stress the success of what in my speech to the Seventy-Fifth Session of the Council I categorized as "FAO in Action".
I was referring in particular to the notable catalytic action of the Organization under such Special Action Programmes of FAO as Desert Locust Control, Seed Improvement and Development,
Prevention of Food Losses, and Food Security Assistance. 0
At the same time I have to stress the need for increasing the contributions to these schemes, particularly for the Prevention of Food Losses and Food Security Assistance, as well as for follow-up of WCARRD and our new initiatives in EEZ and Trypanosomiasis.
In the projects it is preparing, our Investment Centre is already trying to involve international financing organizations in large-scale investment to ensure follow-up of the action programmes, for example in grain storage and fisheries.
Investment. The World Bank, IFAD and Regional Development Banks are allocating increasingly large amounts for technical assistance in support of investment.
Thus, the time may have come to enter into a dialogue with them so that this aspect of our action programmes can also receive support. They could thus, at little opportunity cost, both provide relief to urgent problem and fortify and broaden their own investment policies.
As regards investment in general, I am particularly pleased to be able to say that my highest programme priority in July 1976 - an increase of investment in food and agricultural development - has been matched by achievement. Of the total amount of $13 000 million for projects formulated by the Investment Centre and approved by financing institutions during the past 14 years, nearly half was approved only in the last two years. In other words, it took two years to achieve what had previously taken 12 years.
Food and Agricultural Policy. Our role in policy-making has not been neglected. On the contrary, it has been strengthened over the last two years.
Committee of the Whole. The UN Committee of the Whole in New York not only welcomed the Five-Point Plan for World Food Security but also earlier this year unanimously adopted Agreed Conclusions which, by specific references, prove how relevant and important FAO's policies and programmes are considered to be by all involved in the North-South Dialogue.
I should now like to say a few words about the Development and Management of Fisheries in the Exclusive Economic Zones of Developing Coastal States.
EEZ. Although the UN Conference on the Law of the Sea has not yet concluded, more than, 90 nations have already extended their sea limits, many of them up to 200 miles. These are the Exclusive Economic Zones we shall now discuss.
A simple but remarkable geographical development has occurred. Countries have added to their jurisdiction an area as great as the entire land surface of the globe.
Nearly all marine fishery resources are located in that area.
Fish now accounts for roughly one half of the animal protein consumed in Asia and one quarter of the animal protein consumed in Africa. The demand for fish in the year 2000 could well double, with most of the increase in demand coming from developing countries.
At present, however, developing countries obtain less than one half of the world fisheries catch. Without efficient management, the developing countries could be denied the opportunity to improve the nutrition of their people, the condition of 10 million fishermen and 40 million shore-workers, and the foreign exchange earnings available from distribution and marketing of their potential resources.
The ways in which I think FAO can best carry out its role are set out in the Comprehensive Programme of Assistance. I am glad that the Committee on Fisheries and the Council have fully supported the approach I have pronosed.
As you will note, however, considerable investment and technical assistance are necessary over the next two decades. The Government of Norway has already generously allocated $3.6 million. Further pledges have already been made or are under discussion.
I hope this Conference will give its full support and the necessary impetus to the Provision of the much larger amounts required over the next few years.
Trypanosomiasis. As requested by you at your last Session, I have also placed before you a programme for the control of African Animal Trypanosomiasis and assistance to the African countries whose territories are infested by the various species of the tsetse fly carrving this disease to man and animals.
The Tenth Regional Conference for Africa held in Arusha in 1978 strongly supported the proposed Action Programme, requested that it should be given high priority in our Programme of Work and Budget, and endorsed the Preparatory activities.
I have indeed proposed that Trypanosomiasis should he one of the high priorities in the Programme of Work and Budget for 1980-81, to support the wider scheme which I have submitted to this Conference.
The dimensions of this problem can be gauged by the fact that not only are as many as 36 countries affected, but the area involved is around 10 million sq. kms., containing some of the potentially best pasture and arable land in Africa.
The strategy in the fight against this scourge must take into account environmental and socio-political considerations. All aspects of development support - research, applied research, planning, training, project action, cooperation - will require attention. Cooperation must be particularly close with the Organization for African Unity, with whom we are working harmoniously.
There is also a need for large-scale financial and technical support for medium-and long-term activities. Many governments and organizations are already providing assistance, but it is my hope that the flow will be greatly increased, so that we can for the first time make an integrated and substantial impact on this tremendous problem.
If we can achieve it, the rewards for Africa and for mankind would be enormous, not only in terms of animal production and rural development, but of extending rationally the boundaries of man's control of the Earth's resources.
We must not of course neglect our other high Priorities, including forestry.
Forestry. Forestry for the people is one of our high priorities for the future. Forestry was recognized at the World Conference as an important aspect of rural development. It will be maintained as such in our follow-up action.
One aspect of forestry which will require increasing attention in the future is the growing shortage of fuel-wood in developing countries. 90 Percent of the poorest People depend on firewood as their main source of fuel. There is, however, a serious shortage in most developing regions. Worse still, supplies of fuel-wood are being depleted faster than they are being replaced. The result is treeless landscapes, flooding, and soil erosion.
The shortage of fuel-wood in developing countries is a much greater environmental danger than water pollution. In a few years, if demand continues to increase at exponential rates, the problem can assume disaster proportions.
These are among the reasons why we must not allow forestry to be forgotten amid the many other problems to be tackled.
The importance of our endeavours in all these fields is underlined by the provisional findings of our preliminary study on Agriculture: Toward 2000.
Agriculture: Toward 2000. This study is useful not only for the formulation of policies of this Organization but also of the New International Development Strategy.
It is not, of course, a set of prophecies or predictions. We must at all times remember that it is simply an analysis of the implications of a Path of growth derived from certain given assumptions about demographic and economic growth rates.
The resultant data and situations represent what could happen if the assumptions were in fact justified by events.
Having said this, I must nevertheless stress the importance of the results so far obtained.
According to UN forecasts, the increase alone in world population by the year 2000 will be approximately the same in number as the whole total was in 1925. Nearly 80 percent will be in what are at present considered to be developing countries.
In line with the normative economic growth rate set by the United Nations, the per caput gross national product (GNP) of the developed countries would continue to grow by 3.8 percent a year. For the developing countries, the increase in per caput GNP would have to rise from 3.2 to 5.2 percent a year.
This pre-supposes for the developing countries an annual 3.8 percent increase in agricultural production, compared with only 2.6 percent over the period from the early Sixties to the mid-Seventies.
This would call for enormous investments, inputs, agronomic research, diffusion of methods suited to the environment, institutional and structural reforms, and perhaps also considerable changes in ways of life and food habits.
In the study, we hypothesize that 72 percent of such an increase could be obtained from better yieldson land already cultivated and only 28 percent from the opening-up of new land.
The countries less endowed with agricultural resources would still have to import agricultural produce, especially cereals and milk products. Total cereal imports by developing countries would have to rise from 50 million tons in the mid-Seventies to 115 million tons by the year 2000.
The proportion of underfed people would drop from 22 to 7 percent of the developing countries' increased population. But the number would still be nearly one quarter of a billion. According to the World Bank, the number of people experiencing other manifestations of absolute poverty would be more than double this.
Even this dismaying prospect might be substantially mitigated, since the problem of hunger does not stem from an absolute food deficit in the world. The rich eat too much while the poor are always hungry.
A future agricultural revolution. The question of agriculture in the year 2000 brings me to the burning problem of today and tomorrow: how the developing countries can produce more of their own food, in fact double their agricultural output, in the next twenty years.
As to the road which might be followed towards this goal, some very valuable indications have emerged from a recent high-level Symposium organized by the Swedish Government in Stockholm as well as from our own study of Agriculture: Toward 2000.
First and foremost, we must strive for a convergence between the traditional farming practices of the Third World and modern farm technology.
The amount of energy being used even in rich countries for agriculture is a comparatively small proportion of the total. And even if all the farmers of the Third World could afford to apply the same level of energy inputs, the proportion used for agriculture would not change significantly.
Energy must be conserved everywhere. But without the judicious use of energy-based inputs and equipment, the Third World will not be able to feed its peoples. One might say there fore that the principle of the fuel conservationists should be: The Combine before the Cadillac.
But the strengths of traditional farming, particularly in marginal ecological and social environments, must be much better exploited. So must recycling of wastes and improvement of biological systems at the village level.
In the future, there is promise of scientific developments upon which a complete new agricultural revolution might be based.
Research is already under way to increase the photosynthetic efficiency of crop plants; to enable nitrogen-fixing micro-organisms to survive in the root systems of cereal crops; or to use genetic engineering for this purpose, as well as for adoption of crops to adverse environments or for recycling of organic and mineral resources; to use biochemical methods in food, energy and fertilizer production; and to exploit the vast store of still untapped cultivars.
Let us hope that practical realization on a large scale is not too far off.
In any case, success cannot be achieved without sustained and very strong support for research which does not exclude the developing countries from the possibility of successful adaptation and application.
And it must not be forgotten that scientific and technological change cannot be a substitute for nor thrive without the profound economic and social reforms foreseen in the Programme of Action adopted by the World Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development.
Conclusion. Mr. Chairman, I now come to my conclusion.
In this address, I have unavoidably painted a grim picture of the lack of progress in reducing the food problems of the world in the last two years.
I have called for help for the almost inconceivable misery of millions of people in South-East Asia.
The very disappointing lack of progress towards a New International Economic Order has formed the dismal and frustrating background to the unfulfilled requirements of the food and agricultural sector.
I have again stressed the need to achieve solid world food security based on our Five-Point Plan and eventually on international agreements.
I have also again stressed the need to reduce protectionism, to redress the gross inequity which exists in the current world economic order, and to deal with the impact on the Third World of inflation, debt, and vastly insufficient concessional aid for agriculture.
The specific definitions given by the World Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development, and the importance of its support and of its follow-up at the moral and programme level have naturally been a major theme in my remarks. We have no right to fail in its follow-up, and certainly not for want of voluntary funds.
You have been given a report on progress made by the Organization in its policies and programmes in the last two years, particularly with continued decentralization and investment. The progress in my view is very satisfactory and, in the circumstances, even gratifying. it will be maintained.
A major part of my address has obviously been devoted to the key policy issues which you will discuss at this Conference. FAO's contributions to the rational management of the Exclusive Economic Zones in fisheries, to the conquest of Trypanosomiasis, to improvement of Nutrition, and to development of forestry for the people, can provide great benefits to the Third World. We have the capacity, but we need your support and adequate investment, including voluntary funds.
Our provisional study on Agriculture: Toward 2000 has been discussed within the context of the tremendous tasks ahead to feed and improve the living standards of a vastly increased population of the world in the year 2000.
This has led me to an attempt to discuss the possibilities of a new Agicultural Revolution truly suited to the situations of developing countries and to environmental, energy and other constraints.
There may be revolutions, but there will be no worthwhile or lasting scientific and technological revolution without the profound changes demanded by the Programme of Action of the World Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development.
The greatest problem facing us stems from economic and social divisions of the present world, from the gulf which separates rich and poor, between nations and within the nations. This is glaringly obvious when we view the condition of the rural areas of the Third World.
Only when this condition has become less frightening and odious than it is now will we be able to say that the world has become a better place to live in.
I believe, Mr. Chairman, that not only is food and agricultural development the indispensable foundation of future peace and progress, but that this Organization has an indispensable and leading place in the efforts to achieve it.
He who loves his country is called a patriot. At worst, he will be called a chauvinist. One who believes in the ideals and efficacy of international cooperation is liable at best to be called a Utopian.
This disdain for true and generous international cooperation may get worse before it dies out. But the state of international cooperation will get better, and it will grow.
I am convinced of this and will humbly do all I can to bring it about.
I am not a Utopian. I pride myself on being a practical and pragmatic scientist and administrator. But I am also proud to be an instrument of international cooperation, through being your chosen and elected executive, through being the servant of this great international Organization.
I have confidence in the validity and the worth of the work being done by the army of dedicated men and women who constitute the world-wide staff of the Organization.
I have faith above all in you, the sovereign Conference of this Organization. I have faith that in the future all of us together can and will realize our ideals and aims for the lasting benefit of that poor and hungry world surrounding us.