Filling the Protein Gap
284. The Conference endorsed FAO's approach to the problems of improving protein nutrition and emphasized the high priority which should be accorded to action in this Area of Concentration. It recognized that the different aspects of the problem would vary in significance from one country to another. One delegate indicated that two groups of countries might have to be distinguished, one in which it was most necessary to have programmes emphasizing protein nutrition because of shortages of protein in the diet and a second in which the production of low cost high protein foods of animal or vegetable origin, could be increased rapidly for the benefit of all. What was necessary must be to ensure conditions which would allow the full development of human intellectual and physical capacity. The Conference noted with satisfaction the multidisciplinary work of the joint FAD/WHO/ UNICEF programme on protein foods and the work of the Protein Advisory Group (PAG) in this area.
285. The Conference generally agreed with the FAO estimates concerning the approximate magnitudes and character of the protein gap in the next 15 years. To attain the goal of an adequate supply of protein, in terms both of quantity and quality, long-term and complex efforts would be required from governments and international agencies, especially from FAO. The gap which could occur between supply and demand for animal protein in the developing countries in the absence of such efforts had been highlighted by the IWP and was a matter for special concern. For this reason the Conference considered that priority must continue to be given to increasing production of animal protein supply.
286. At present many factors led to a serious public health problem in the form of protein, calorie malnutrition and other forms of malnutrition resulting from dietary deficiencies of vitamins and minerals which affect particularly infants, preschool children, and expectant and nursing mothers. The physical and possible mental damage which are caused to young children through protein malnutrition called for programmes to ensure satisfactory diets for all children, and such programmes were therefore beyond measurement in terms of their economic benefits. Obviously this was a basic investment in our human resources.
287. The complicated nature of the problem of protein malnutrition was recognized, and the lead taken by FAO, in collaboration with WHO, to determine the nature and extent of the problem and to propose action programmes for its solution, was given full support. Many delegates stressed the need for an integrated approach to tackling this problem since it involved both technical aspects of physically expanding supplies of protein foods and inequalities in their distribution due to socioeconomic factors. Such an approach would be required in order to secure the finance to support such programmes the institutions to ensure effective distribution and marketing, and, not least to educate consumers in better food habits. This called for the coordination of multilateral and bilateral assistance to promote national activities, to which the multidisciplinary concentration of FAO's programmes would provide a major impetus. The Conference considered that FAO's proposed course of action provided a useful assessment of the world protein problem and endorsed the activities being undertaken by FAO and other bodies to improve nutrition.
288. The Conference recognized the need for short-term emergency programmes to tackle acute situations, which governments should sponsor with assistance from FAO, WFP, UNICEF and bilateral and non-governmental agencies. Such crash programmes should concentrate on the use of locally available protein-rich food materials with the use of food and other aid from external sources to help in starting such programmes. Feeding programmes running over the longer-term were also considered necessary In this connexion several delegates expressed interest in the Director-General's proposal for an International Dairy Development Scheme which could make a significant contribution to solving problems in the short-term. At the same time FAO must help the countries themselves to find permanent long-term solutions.
289. The Conference agreed that the longer-term strategy for filling the protein gap must be based on expanding supplies of conventional protein foods. As cereals supplied at least half the world's total proteins for human consumption the breeding of cereal varieties should aim both to increase their yield and also their protein content in order to raise protein availability both for human and animal use. The need for plant exploration activities to find varieties of both wild and cultivated species of high protein content, especially for use in breeding programmes, was recognized as essential. It was noted that some good results had been obtained in improving protein content through the use of induced mutations and some delegates urged that that support should be continued for work in this field with the particular objective of improving protein quality.
290. The Conference stressed the importance of programmes to increase production of grain legumes and oilseeds, and FAO efforts in this area were widely supported. While cropping patterns would have to be adapted to suit the different ecological zones, greater diversification to include grain legumes, oilseeds, fruits and vegetables and fodder crops in rotation with cereals was likely to be essential where ecologically feasible if dietary deficiencies were to be avoided. The Conference drew attention to the importance of foreign exchange earnings to many developing countries from exports of a wide range of protein-rich food products and urged the removal of trade barriers to the expansion of exports potential.
291. Many delegates expressed the view that more could be done to expand livestock production. While some delegates gave priority to the more rapid possibilities of expansion of fish, poultry and pig production, many others attached more importance to increasing beef and milk production in developing countries, together with greater use of sheep and goats under suitable conditions. The great potential which existed for beef and milk production, particularly in Africa and Latin America, was frequently stressed; and the Conference considered that this should be developed through programmes of disease control of cattle, the establishment of an international code for the control of animal diseases, and of health regulations for processing, improvement of range grazing, provision of adequate water supplies, fodder production and conservation, and fuller utilization of crop residues, better management practices and the breeding of superior types of animals to suit local conditions. The Conference requested that particular attention should be given to training in animal breeding techniques, including artificial insemination.
292. Delegates from some African countries drew attention to the useful additional high value protein which could be obtained from the proper conservation and management of wildlife resources and the cropping of game animals on a sustained yield basis.
293. Delegates were informed that the programme of work proposed for the Animal Production and Health Division would give additional emphasis to animal production, particularly of meat. This would be supported by the proposed new Meat and Milk Group to be established in the Division. On the health side a Joint FAD/WHO Committee on Trypanosomiasis in Africa was set up in 1968. Animal, Plant and the Joint FAD/IAEA Divisions were actively collaborating in projects for tsetse fly control. Regional surveys of the animal production and health situation were to be undertaken, commencing in the Near East and Latin America. Reorganization of administrative functions within the Animal Production and Health Division would enable technical officers to give more time to their professional and specialist duties.
294. General satisfaction was expressed with the increased emphasis FAO would also be giving through its Plant Production and Protection Division to feed and fodder production and range management in the coming biennium but some delegates emphasized the need for more training programmes in these fields.
295. The Conference attached great importance to increasing protein supplies from marine and fresh water fisheries. It noted that fish culture and fish farming offered a rapid potential for increasing food production and should, therefore, receive special attention. Some delegates drew attention to the need for training and equipping the traditional coastal fishing communities to enable them to increase landings from both off-shore and deep-sea fishing grounds. Improved fish marketing, storage and processing facilities and better distribution channels to potential consumers in inland areas, as well as concerted action in production, marketing, and consumer education, were considered essential to give adequate incentive to investment in improved vessels and equipment and to other means of raising fish production.
296. The socio-economic aspects of improving protein nutrition were considered by many delegations to present more difficult problems than technical and biological factors. Protein malnutrition was a symptom of poverty, and wherever governments took steps to distribute income on a more equitable basis FAO would support such programmes. Programmes to make more protein foods available also involved expensive inputs of fertilizers or animal feed which usually had to be imported by developing countries which did not possess adequate foreign exchange. The price of protein foods was often beyond the reach of the poorer sections of the community who needed them most. Thus many developing countries would need assistance both in the form of imported protein foods in the short-term and of the necessary inputs, investment and technical expertise to enable them to develop their domestic production over time. Within countries, the problem of overcoming deficiencies of protein foods from which the poorer sections of the community, and particularly the vulnerable groups, frequently suffered, was primarily a matter for the national governments. The Conference nevertheless considered that FAO had an important role to play in assisting member governments to formulate national policies for improving nutrition, and in developing the action programmes for their implementation.
297. The Conference laid particular stress on the need for nutrition education 4/to overcome the ignorance and superstition which often resulted in waste of existing valuable protein foods and to make people generally aware of the need of protein foods for health and well-being. This was especially vital for young children, expectant, and nursing mothers. FAO should give adequate programme to the role of the housewife in filling the protein gap and home economics extension programmes were needed which would help housewives to improve the quality of the family diet. For that purpose it was necessary that home economics service should be included to a greater extent in formulating projects for their plans, analysis and evaluation. FAO's expanding programme of assistance to member governments, conducted with support from UNDP, UNICEF and the United Nations Population Fund was endorsed by the Conference. The importance of special food programmes directed toward the vulnerable groups was stressed as well as the need for intensive nutrition education to overcome undesirable food habits. Not the least pressing need in this connexion was for FAO to train a strong cadre of nutritionists in all the appropriate aspects of this work to provide leadership and guidance.
298. In all aspects of stimulating production and improving the utilization of protein foods the Conference strongly emphasized the need to develop an effective and hygienic marketing and distribution system. This should both ensure adequate price incentives to producers, and provide a satisfactory channel to consumers with minimum wastage in intermediate processing and storage. An efficient marketing service would do much to expand consumption of protein foods and make them more readily available to all sections of the community.
299. In general the Conference considered that new protein foods derived from semi- or non-conventional sources were at the initial stages of application. They could not be expected to make a significant contribution to world food supplies within the immediate future. However, they could immediately contribute to protein food mixtures for child feeding. Research on these new sources of protein was continuing in universities, experimental stations and in industry. FAO was keeping in close touch with these developments and was initiating or participating in controlled field trials and promotion campaigns. It was recognized that consumer acceptability and the economics of some non-conventional sources of protein need to be fully assessed. Wherever commercial scale manufacture could be developed economically these sources might contribute in a significant way to protein supply for human consumption.
300. The Conference considered that FAO had both a short and long-term role to play in remedying deficiencies in protein foods. On the one hand there were immediate action programmes to expand conventional supplies of animal products, fish and protein-rich crops and to improve their processing and marketing. In the longer-term FAO should undertake surveys to assess the protein food situation, giving priority to those countries where deficiencies were most serious; and, based on such surveys, should assist member governments in planning and implementing programmes to improve protein supplies and their utilization, and cooperate within the Freedom from Hunger Campaign toward large scale production of fish protein. At the same time FAO should assist countries to carry out periodic assessments of the food situation by means of local food consumption surveys.
301. In general the Conference approved the additions proposed in the 1970-71 Programme of Work and Budget to support an expanded programme in this Area of Concentration. However, whilst agreeing to the increased emphasis proposed on animal production the Conference considered that FAO's programmes in the field of animal health should at least be maintained.
War on Waste
302. The Conference gave strong support to the Area of Concentration "war on waste," and to its close integration with the other Areas of Concentration. Reduction of losses would have an effect on the other four Areas of Concentration, and was consequently of great importance to the future strategy of FAO.
303. Some delegates nevertheless considered that too wide a field was being covered and that the resources of FAO would, thereby, be stretched too far. They felt that FAO should already have established priorities within priorities.
304. The Conference however noted that the "war on waste" covered a very wide field because waste was to be found everywhere. Furthermore, each region and country had its own problems and what was a major problem in one area might be of minor significance in another. Consequently, it seemed right that the problem of waste should be brought before the Conference in all its ramifications, leaving it to each country to decide on its own priorities within priorities. It now remained for member countries on an individual basis, to decide where the greatest problem areas lay so that they could initiate action programmes and requests for assistance. FAO stood ready to provide them with technical support and through the channels at FAO's disposal the Organization might also be able to assist in finding finance to support countries' plans.
305. The conservation of natural resources of forests, fisheries, soil and water was of major concern to the Conference, and one delegate suggested that this should be made an Area of Concentration in its own right. Soil and water were the basic means of agricultural production. It was essential to take action to prevent irreversible losses. The fertility of the soil had to be maintained for future generations. Some delegates welcomed FAO's Soil Map of the World and stressed the need to continue with the necessary inventory of soil and water resources.
306. Concern was expressed at the progressing salinity, acidity and waterlogging in certain areas. It was essential to have proper soil and water management. Reclamation of affected land and improvements to irrigation systems and practices usually needed far less capital investment than the development of new areas. It must be brought home to all concerned how much the waste of water restricted the full utilization of agricultural potential. Flood control and conservation of excess water were necessary both to prevent damage in the wet season and losses from drought in other seasons.
307. The Conference felt that over-exploitation, erosion, and pollution of natural resources was occurring at an alarming rate and expressed concern that growing numbers of the world's population might in the future only be able to meet their daily needs by following production methods which are detrimental to natural resources. It was recognized that the problem involved all phases of agriculture - animal husbandry, range and watershed management, forestry and fisheries, as well as numerous social considerations, which placed an important coordinating role on FAO. It was noted that the question of man's environment would be dealt with by the conference in 1972 sponsored by the United Nations General Assembly. It was recommended that further attention should be given by FAO, at the earliest possible date, to a strengthened and coordinated programme of action on conserving and developing natural resources. This recommendation should be implemented by giving such activities a high priority.
308. Another matter of major concern to the Conference was the rational management of forest and range land, both to achieve higher productivity and to conserve resources Forest fires, bush burning, overgrazing of pastures, and shifting cultivation were major problems in many parts of the world and contributed to loss of soil and water resources and the growth of deserts. There was also considerable waste in the selection and partial use of forest resources and in the processing of timber, due to lack of operational efficiency, poor logging equipment and techniques, and lack of integrated planning of forest management. The Conference expressed satisfaction that the situation was being given special attention and noted the number of training centres and symposia that were being organized by FAO
309. The attention of the Conference was directed to the prevention of waste through fodder conservation in relation to plans for the expansion of animal production, and especially of milk production. The importation of exotic breeds of cattle into the developing countries, and successful programmes in cross-breeding with local strains to increase the production of milk, were largely dependent upon adequate nutrition. Wastage of fodder was widespread and it was essential that the cultivation of fodder crops and their preparation and conservation at farm and village level be included in future programmes Training in the methods and techniques involved was seen as a matter of urgency.
310. Some of the biggest losses occurred during production of agricultural crops due to pests, diseases and weeds. Weeds cause considerable waste because they compete for the available water and fertilizer, both on arable and range land. This problem must also be faced because many of these weeds have become pests of a regional character due to their geographical extension. The susceptibility of certain of the new high-yielding varieties of cereals to pests and diseases (particularly rust) had already been mentioned, and delegates stressed that not only should special attention be paid to such problems in breeding programmes but that urgent measures should be adopted to protect growing crops more effectively from pests, rodents, birds and other enemies.
311. Great concern was also expressed with regard to post-harvest losses. Here again the new high-yielding varieties were creating a special problem because of increased supplies coming into the market. Also, as a result of multi-cropping, one of the harvests tended to come during a wet period. The Conference was pleased to note that FAO was placing special emphasis on integrated action covering drying, storage, pest control and processing at all levels - farm, village, cooperative and bulk. The importance of action to improve storage was frequently stressed, both because of its rapid impact in reducing losses, and because it helped to maintain stable prices.
312. The proper utilization of safe and effective pesticides was essential to attain the maximum production potential by the prevention of losses both before and after harvest. However' the use of pesticides had in some cases resulted in the development of insect resistance, and this in turn had led to increased rates and/or more frequent applications, or to the use of more expensive substitutes. The danger of the international transfer of resistant insects was also constantly increasing. The problem had been further compounded by the indiscriminate use of pesticides to the detriment of man, animals, plants, fish and beneficial insects.
313. Continuing research was therefore required to find suitable new pesticides. Techniques of integrated control must also be investigated more deeply. In the case of stored products, work was being concentrated on hermetically sealed structures which enabled infestations to be controlled through the exclusion of oxygen. The Conference recommended that thoughtful consideration be given to the entire programme on the use of radiation for food preservation with due account being taken of the practical limitations in certain circumstances. The Conference also noted that the effective use of the sterile male technique for insect control depended upon the development of efficient mass rearing procedures and adequate information on population dynamics. Note was taken of the useful activity of the FAD/IAEA Joint Division on Research and Training in the Seibersdorf Laboratory.
314. The heavier applications of pesticides necessary to overcome insect resistance led to the danger of exceeding the pesticide residue tolerances, which could both lead to hazards to health and to commercial difficulties with importing countries, increasing the chances that supplies of plant and animal foods might be completely rejected. For this reason internationally acceptable standards for pesticide residue tolerances should be agreed on at an early date.
315. Amongst man's greatest enemies was the rat. The war against rodents would have to be fought by all conventionally known means, such as poisons and improved storage containers and structures. First and foremost, it needed the creation and expansion of rodent control services. More research was needed and a breakthrough might have to come through biological means of control. In this connexion, the Conference looked to FAO to give a lead.
316. The Conference appreciated the work that had been done by FAO in the control of the desert locust but stressed the need for continuing surveillance. Action was also being prepared to deal with the migratory locusts. The Conference noted with satisfaction that additional assistance in the control of the desert locust was being discussed under item 37 of its agenda, concerning a proposal of the Director-General to establish emergency funds to assist governments during the initial stages of an outbreak. The Conference reiterated the recommendation of its Fourteenth Session 2/that the work on locust control should be placed on a permanent basis. It was recommended that as much as possible of this work should be incorporated into the regular programme.
317. Coordinated action was necessary for combating the Quelea quelea bird, which is an equally important scourge in Africa. A project involving nine African countries would go into operation as soon as approval was given to a project manager.
318. The need for implementation of quarantine and other measures in the control of animal diseases, including foot-and-mouth, rinderpest, contagious bovine pleuropneumonia, tickborne diseases and trypanosomiasis was strongly emphasized by the Conference although it was recognized that the degree of importance of each would vary between individual countries. Several delegates referred to the need to establish and maintain buffer zones of vaccination in appropriate areas to prevent the entry of infections such as rinderpest and the several virus types of foot-and-mouth disease. It was emphasized that such buffer zones had demonstrated their efficacy on numerous occasions and were of vital importance not only to the country in which they were located but to neighbouring countries and to other countries in the same region. Stress was also laid on the need to continue and if possible intensify all action concerning quarantine for vegetable products as a means of preventing the spread of pests and diseases while avoiding placing additional obstacles in the way of trade.
319. The transportation, handling, marketing and preservation of fresh fruits and vegetables, and of meat, milk and fish, were serious problems in developing countries. They needed cold storage (which could be capital expensive), improved packaging, and a marketing and distribution infrastructure. Action too was needed for the more efficient utilization of animal and vegetable byproducts.
320. In all these areas, the Conference stressed the great need for training at all levels operators in the food industries, farmers and farm women, research and extension workers, managers and planners. There was need for more widespread dissemination of information of a technical nature and also information designed to reach the broad masses of the people. It was essential to create an awareness of waste and the need for changes in attitude. FAO had issued a simple pamphlet, Food Losses - The Tragedy and Some Solutions, which countries could use beneficially to create a widespread awareness of the problem.
321. The Conference also stressed the important role of women in preventing waste at the domestic level. It noted with satisfaction the increased emphasis being placed in home economics programmes on the training of families in the more intensive utilization of food and agricultural products used by them.
322. In implementing proposals to combat waste, the Conference felt that, in many areas, there was need for further research. However, there was already established a considerable fund of known and tried technology to enable immediate action in many fields to be initiated on a wide front. Seminars and symposia were being widely used and were of considerable value. In the experience of many countries, one of the most valuable contributions came from practical projects in the local environment, which could easily be understood and assimilated by those most in need. These could be implemented by small groups of experts drawn from a pool of technically qualified people.
323. Mention was made of the lack of reliable estimates on losses of foodstuffs and production resources in general. This evaluation was considered necessary to identify the particular causes of loss. Nevertheless, the Conference felt it was more important to concentrate on bringing about improvements in, for instance, methods of handling produce before and after harvest (based on general economic criteria) than to use scarce manpower and resources to measure exactly losses in quality and quantity.
324. The Conference warned against the dangers of duplication of effort between FAO and bilateral and other outside agencies. There should be a pooling of activities, as well as of technical knowledge, in order to make the best use of scarce resources. Country representatives could help to prevent unnecessary duplication.
325. Finally, it was reiterated that the problem of waste differed widely in character and in degree from one country to another. Consequently, it was only the countries themselves that could establish their own priorities. It was based on the countries' needs as established by the priorities that they themselves were setting that FAO could play an effective part in trying to provide the necessary support and assistance. It was also emphasized that in those countries where WFP had projects, arrangements must be made by WFP and recipient countries to ensure that appropriate services and equipment were available to avoid losses of commodities. To this end as close a liaison as possible should be established between FAO and WFP. Special attention was drawn to the important role which the FFHC programme could play in mobilizing public opinion through the involvement of non-governmental organizations.
326. The Conference agreed on the strengthening proposed for the various divisions and on the need for these divisions to coordinate and review their activities to meet the urgent problems associated with the war on waste. The budgetary increases as set out in document C 69/3 were considered to be a minimum requirement and in some cases it was questioned whether they went far enough.