V. Information and publications
1. The Committee heard a statement on the work and program of the Public Information Service which, since reorganization, had been much strengthened and developed.
2. This development was reflected in the variety and quality of the output of the Service and its greatly improved standing with all users of FAO information material. Broadly speaking, the Freedom from Hunger Campaign (FFHC) had enabled the Organization to bring before the world public, in a more dramatic way than was possible through regular program activities, the function of FAO and the world food situation.
3. The Committee noted that the Service intended to improve its reportage of the world food situation and develop its activities to increase radio and television work (especially through production and use of TV films) and to increase FAO's participation in exhibitions, subject to funds being available, for instance, under FFHC.
4. As a result of strengthening the Service through both the regular program and FFHC, there were now five professional officers in the Visual Media Section, four in the Features Section, three in the Current Information Section and two in the Radio Section. There were also four Technical Information Officers who contributed to the work of each Section. The Spanish writer proposed for the Features Section would also contribute to the Radio Section.
5. In the general discussion, a number of delegations stressed the need to produce as soon as possible a fully documented brochure on FAO and its organization, functions and activities. The Committee was informed that the first draft of the brochure was done and would be printed as soon as possible.
6. While recognizing the value of the Press releases on day-to-day operations as well as on significant news, some concern was expressed by the Committee at the volume of such releases and it urged that a stricter scrutiny should be made of the material selected for use.
7. The Committee, while appreciating the quality and usefulness of the information material produced for the Regular Program and for FFHC, requested FAO to produce more leaflets, pamphlets and brochures of a cheaper, give-away type which could be more easily reproduced in quantity by FAO National Committees and by FFHC Committees. The Committee also stressed the need, within the scope of funds already allocated, for more material of cheaper quality, both written and pictorial, which dealt with the food and malnutrition situation in the underdeveloped countries.
8. The Committee stressed the need to produce filmstrips, film slides and other visual material accompanied by a commentary that could be easily translated for use, specially in developing countries.
9. The Committee agreed that all information activities useful to farmers could assist the underdeveloped and developing nations in their efforts to increase food production as well as to improve the marketing and distribution of food. This is why it adopted the proposal that FAO should help Member Governments in strengthening their agricultural information services, particularly in support of their extension and education programs. There was a need to hold seminars, workshop and training centers on a regional basis to train personnel in the underdeveloped countries in the various uses of visual aid materials, radio and other information techniques. It would also be beneficial if fellowships could be provided in these fields.
Recommendation No. 1
10. In view of the complexity and the budget implications of the proposal as a whole, the Committee felt that there should be a short-term and a long-term program and accordingly recommended:
11. The short-term program should consist of:
(i) discussions at regional conferences, based on a specific item on the agenda requiring delegations to make known their country's needs in strengthening agricultural information services, with emphasis as a first step on rural and farm broadcasting programs;
(ii) the organization of seminars or training centers on such programs in each of the four regions if justified by the discussions and recommendations of the regional conferences and if FFHC or other funds are available for this purpose;
(iii) provision of fellowships in agricultural information techniques, if FFHC funds are available for this purpose. The attention of governments should be drawn to the use which might be made of EPTA funds in this respect; and
(iv) provision at headquarters for the necessary co-ordination of these activities.
12. The long-term program should be based on:
(i) a statement of principles and functions covering agricultural information services and techniques. The Committee recommended that the Council should take advantage of the U.S. Government proposal to undertake this task, in consultation with other governments as deemed necessary; and
(ii) the statement of situation and requirements made by Member Governments at regional conferences.
13. In this connection, the Committee recommended that the Council convene a small working party of its members, drawn principally from developing countries, to meet immediately before the Council assembles in October 1962 to review the statement of principles and functions and to make recommendations thereon. Members of the working party should be specialists in the field of agricultural information services.
14. The Council would then recommend the lines along which FAO could best help Member Governments to improve the techniques used in their agricultural information services -and a program of work in the light of this guidance should be prepared for submission to the Twelfth Conference of FAO.
15. The Committee examined the work carried out by the Publications Service during the biennium 1960 61 and considered its proposed plan of work for the next biennium. In this connection the Committee took into account the proposed publications listed in document C 61/3-Sup. 1, Publications Program 1962-63, and the need for documentation of all kind. which would arise from the activities set out in the Program of Work and Budget 1962-63 (C 61/3).
16. The Committee welcomed the marked over-all improvement in the quality of publications that had been achieved during the last two or three years.
17. Noting that the Service's internal printing shop produces all the working documents required by the Organization, the Committee approved the modernization of equipment and techniques already carried out and proposed for the next biennium, which makes it possible to produce documents in handier form, more speedily and at lower unit cost.
18. The Committee understood that the most suitable and economical means would be explored for transmitting periodically to Member Governments lists of documents other than the publications already listed in the Catalogue of publications. This would permit the governments to ascertain whether material existed which might hew interest for others than those for whom the documentation had primarily been in-boded. So far as stocks permitted, official requests for single specimen copies of such unpriced documents would be ful-filled, but for other official requests a small handling charge would be made, to cover costs of dispatching.
19. The Committee took note of a communication from the Technical Committee on Fisheries in which the Spanish delegation had made observations about the failure to translate and issue in the three working languages of the Organization certain documents and publications, and made the following recommendation:
Recommendation No. 2
20. The Committee, informed of certain instances of failure to issue all documents and publications, including manuals and bibliographies, in the three working languages of the Organization, strongly recommended that all necessary steps should be taken to obviate such a situation, and to ensure that in future the action indicated in Resolution No. 24/55 of the Conference, and reiterated in paragraph 550 of the Report of the 10th Session of the Conference, should be taken in respect of simultaneous publication in the three working languages of the Organization.
21. The Committee noted that the proposed increases in the professional and general service staff were related to the proposed additional work in the regular program as was the increase in the item for temporary employment and overtime, the latter also took into account the need for flexible capacity to meet peak loads which could not always be foreseen.
22. The Committee further noted that the proposed increases in the staff of the Publications Service reflected estimated needs for the production of both working documents and publications. To the extent that any cuts were made in the substantive program of work, some reduction could be made in the expenditure incurred by the Service, but the Committee recognized that economies in the substantive program might result in only theoretical savings in the Publications Service, of, for example only a fraction of one translator/year or one publications officer/year per working language.
23. Examining an analysis prepared by the secretariat of the production cost factors (other than authorship) of three sample publications and one sample working document, the Committee found that the components of total cost varied so widely, according to the nature of each particular item, that it was impossible to establish " average " or " typical " costs.
24. The Committee felt, however, that Member Governments and official bodies, as well as the secretariat, should take note of these sample costs when considering the documentation and publications that would result from program proposals under study. For example, of the total cost of $14,000 for the Trade a statistical publication, the largest part, $9,000 was for printing, and translation costs were small. On the other hand, the translation of a 70,000 word monograph, Marketing livestock and meat, costs $4 300, which was nearly as much as the printing cost of $4,900 within a total of $13,000. The internally-produced working document taken as a sample, C 61/11, Regional economic integration costs a total of $4,800, of which the largest part, $2,800, was for translation.
25. The Committee learned that more than half of the costs incurred in the Publications Service, apart from external printing, arise in connection with materials other than publications proper. Working papers for, and reports from, meetings reports of field projects, and reports required by official bodies constitute an important part of this material. To these must be added circular letters to governments, questionnaires, administrative announcements, forms, and other stationery.
26. The increase during the last four years in the output of such nonpublication material has accompanied an increase in the scale of the Organization's program and special activities, and is indicated by the rising annual number of page impressions produced by the internal printing unit, as follows:
Non-Conference years: 1958 33.4 million 1960 35.7 million Conference years: 1959 44.6 million 1961 51.0 million
(Conference years normally run heavier; 1961 projected from first 9 months. 1 million page impressions corresponds, for example, to a 500 page document produced in 2,000 copies.)
Recommendation No. 3
27. Viewing with concern the growth in the total of publications, documents and other material which the Publications Service is called upon to produce, the Committee strongly recommended that representatives of Member Governments as well as all official bodies of the Organization and the secretariat, should exercise the greatest possible restraint in initiating documents and publications. The Committee considered it essential that every measure be taken to control the output of printed matter, and called upon the Director-General in consultation with the Program Committee to scrutinize with the utmost care, and if necessary, to revise the program of publications proposed for each biennium, and also the program activities which would require documentation. In this connection the Committee expressed the wish that in future the estimated production costs of each publication should be included in the biennial program.
28. The Committee expressed its appreciation for the work performed by the Legislation Research Branch, both in regard to its participation in the legislation aspects of FAO's programs and to its more direct assistance to Member Governments requesting advice in framing or improving their legislation on matters related to FAO's fields. In this connection the usefulness of such assistance to the legislative bodies of Member Nations was particularly mentioned.
29. As regards particularly the latter activities, the Committee noted with satisfaction that the Branch had been able to meet a number of requests for legislative advice from Member Governments on a variety of subjects. The Committee realized that any substantial increase in the number of such requests would put too heavy a burden on the work of the Branch within its limited resources. It felt, however, that such an advisory function constituted indeed one of the basic responsibilities of FAO in order to take full advantage of the knowledge being accumulated in the Branch as a central point for legislative information and advice and that, within budgetary limits, FAO should endeavor to meet Member Governments' requests in this field.
30. The Committee noted that, in order to achieve the most economic functioning together with efficiency, the work of the Branch was organized in such manner that only titles of legal provisions concerning FAO's fields, together with short annotations on their contents, were catalogued, for easy reference. Analysis of the corresponding texts was effected as required in connection with the legislative aspects of FAO divisions' projects and in meeting with the least delays requests from Member Governments for legislative advice on specific subjects.
31. As regards the proposal contained in paragraph 36 of Chapter III-A of the Program of Work and Budget 1962-63 to reinforce the Branch's activities regarding legislation on agrarian structures, by the appointment of a consultant for six months, the Committee in principle agreed with the activities envisaged in the proposal. However, it felt that the proposal as it stands to engage a consultant for such a short period during the ensuing biennium could not adequately serve the purpose. In particular, the Committee did not approve from the budgetary standpoint, of a method likely to lead into future commitments while not properly ensuring a sound start of the project. It therefore requested the Director-General to explore the possibilities existing within the framework of the 1962-63 Program of Work and Budget to meet the requirement in the field considered for a more substantial period of time. The Committee suggested that the question be considered in connection with the activities proposed in paragraph 55 of Chapter VI-A (VIII) of the 1962-63 Program of Work and Budget, under the heading "Rural Institutions and Services."
32. A study of the purpose and objectives of the Library was made by a consultant following a recommendation of the Program Committee in March 1958. The consultant's proposals for expansion of the Library were presented to the Conference in 1959 as document C 59/11. After a survey of the organizational aspects of the consultant's proposals had been made, the Director-General submitted a report on Library development (C 61/5), based on the consultant's major policy recommendations and the findings of the Organization and Methods Survey.
33. During the biennium 1960-61 substantial improvements in administrative efficiency and in accommodation had been effected, as recommended by the consultant and the Organization and Methods Survey. A selected catalogue of acquisitions made during the period 1951-1958 had been prepared and published and also a provisional guide to the Library.
34. The Director-General's proposals (C 61/5) were based on the conception of the Library as a service to the secretariat and to member countries rather than as a storehouse of publications. Development would include an acquisitions policy formulated on a rational basis, increased contacts with outside institutions and libraries primarily through the medium of corresponding libraries, and a bibliographic service. The expansion proposed for the biennium 1962-63 was on a small scale but some reinforcement of staff would be necessary for the additional tasks envisaged, and some additional funds for the necessary increase in acquisitions.
35. The Committee was reminded that the Program Committee, after studying the Director-General's report carefully at its meeting in June 1961 had concluded that the expansion proposed was modest, and that it might be desirable to raise the Library to Branch status. The Director-General had then indicated that further proposals would be made on the basis of the experience acquired in the coming biennium.
36. With regard to paragraph 55 of the Director-General's report (C 61/5), several delegations expressed the view that the Library should not set up an abstracting service as this would require much staff and funds, and might duplicate the work of existing services, such as those of the Commonwealth Agricultural Bureaux and the United States Department of Agriculture. The Committee was assured that the scope of the proposed Bibliographic Unit did not extend to abstracting, that it was intended only to supplement the bibliographic work of divisions, and that there was no intention to enter any fields covered by existing organizations.
37. Service to member countries was stressed by several delegations, with special reference to the need for the widest possible distribution of the printed catalogue and periodical list of accessions. The importance of an adequate photocopying service was also emphasized.
38. The attention of the Committee was drawn to the varying needs of member countries for FAO Library services. It was agreed that countries with well developed library systems of their own had little need for such services, but other countries could be helped considerably, especially by the provision of information on literature in languages other than their own. The service which the Library could render might best be given through corresponding libraries in each member country. These libraries could channel requests for, and the supply of books, documents, photocopies and bibliographies. The Director-General's report provided the framework for a more specific evaluation of the Library, its services and users.
Recommendation No. 4
39. In expressing appreciation of the Library and its work the Committee approved the idea of developing the Library as a supporting service with limited aims, and recommended to the Conference that it adopt the Report by the Director-General (C 61/5). However in the light of the views set out above (paragraph 36) the Committee recommended that no action be taken with regard to the suggestion contained in paragraph 55 of the Director-General's report, except that the Director-General should report to the Council on the situation regarding abstracts and bibliographies in the subject-matter fields of the Organization. Such a report should include the work done by FAO in this respect, the possibility of handing this work over to other agencies, and gaps in subject coverage which such agencies might be asked to fill.