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VI. Nutrition


1. The work of the Nutrition Division since the last session of the Conference has been marked by orientation toward practical programs in the field and by preparation for development in line with the recommendations of FAO general and regional conferences, technical meetings, the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Nutrition, requests from governments, and from other international agencies. This tendency will become more important in the near future because of Special Fund projects, the progressive and continuous increase in the Technical Assistance projects, the increasing support from UNICEF to nutrition and home economic programs, and developments under the Freedom from Hunger Campaign.

2. The Committee noted with great satisfaction this rapid growth, it also noted and approved the fact that these activities are rightly carried out mainly in developing countries, that they are essentially within the role of FAO, and that they all contribute to raising levels of living and welfare in these countries. However, the expansion has been so rapid as to require the full-time attention of a very large part of the present staff.

3. The impact of such developments on the basic activities to be carried out under the regular program is creating some concern. The applied programs must be based on knowledge of food and nutrition conditions in the various regions and countries, as well as of requirements as assessed by scientific studies. Field projects involve more work at Headquarters in connection with recruiting, briefing and servicing the experts. Up to now, the increased workload resulting from the expansion of past activities, or the creation of new activities likely to lead soon to actual projects, has been carried out without extra personnel.

4. The number of field projects under EPTA has increased by 65 percent in the last two years. With the exception of the Far East, the increase has occurred in all regions, and has been particularly marked in Africa. This expansion will continue in 1962. In view of the new method of country programing recommended by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the Committee drew attention to the need to give full consideration to the role of the nutritionist in EPTA teams responsible for preparing and implementing agriculture plans and economic development plans.

5. The Committee approved the importance assigned to regional activities carried out by outposted regional officers and by Headquarters' staff. This approach, in addition to the use of consultants helps the Division to provide direct assistance to governments whose requests could not be included in EPTA programs.

6. The Committee noted that an increasing proportion of the Division's activities is carried out in co-operation with other Divisions in the Technical and Economics Departments, both with respect to activities that are the special concern of FAO and those that are carried out in co-operation with other organizations.

7. The Committee noted the very large increase in the number of field projects carried out in collaboration with other international organizations, mainly WHO, UNICEF and more recently the United Nations Bureau of Social Affairs. Activities being initiated in teacher training and industrial feeding will call for collaboration with UNESCO and ILO respectively. The Committee stressed the importance of effective collaboration with other organizations, not only at the Headquarters level but also at the regional and country levels.

8. The Committee noted and approved of the changes in Branch titles " Nutrition Services " to " Applied Nutrition " and " Food Processing and Preparation " to " Food Science and Technology."

Food consumption and planning

9. The Committee noted with approval that the basic activities in this field have been continued along the main lines of previous years and that progress has been accelerated during the past two years and will be stepped up further in future in the following specific directions:

1. Appraisal of levels and patterns of food consumption in relation to the nutritional needs of populations.

2. Development of national policies and plans to raise levels of nutrition through improvement of food supplies.

Levels of food consumption and nutrition

10. The definite progress made during the past two years in improving the coverage as well as the accuracy of data on food consumption in many countries, in co-operation with the Statistics Division, was considered noteworthy.

11. The Committee approved the progress made in implementing Resolution No. 34/59 on Food Consumption Surveys of the last session of the Conference by means of regional discussions, preparation of manuals and direct assistance to governments on request in the organization of comprehensive survey programs.

Nutrition in food policy and planning

12. In view of the urgent need for orienting national food policies and plans toward the nutritional needs of the people, as emphasized repeatedly by the previous sessions of the Conference, the Committee was glad to learn of the Technical Meeting on Nutrition in Food Policy and Planning in Asia and the Far East, held last year, and similar meetings in other regions. These meetings and the place given to nutrition in recent FAO surveys, particularly in Africa, show the increasing recognition of nutrition in agricultural planning and economic development (see also paragraphs 46 and 47).

Nutritional requirements

13. In endorsing the past work and the proposed program on nutritional requirements, the Committee emphasized that continued efforts should be made to stimulate further research on the physiological needs of various sections of the population, living and working under different conditions, with respect to the essential nutrients as well as calories.

Food composition

14. It was noted with regret that work on food composition could be carried out only at a minimum level because of lack of staff at Headquarters and of insufficient laboratories throughout the world making adequate food analyses.

Food shortages and emergencies

15. The Committee was glad to note that the Nutrition Division continues to participate in efforts to meet any requests from governments for assistance in food emergencies. It was emphasized that particular attention should be given not only to short-term measures to relieve the immediate shortages but also to long-term measures to eradicate hunger and malnutrition.

Utilization of food surpluses

16. The Committee commended the active role played by the Nutrition Division in promoting the best use of available food surpluses not only for fighting malnutrition on an immediate basis but also to remove the basic causes of malnutrition through economic and social development. The Committee emphasized the importance of ensuring that nutritional aspects are fully taken into account in the Surplus Utilization Fund and that necessary provision from the Fund should be made to enable the Nutrition Division to play its full role in this connection.

Food science and technology

17. While several of the Technical Divisions of FAO deal with some specific aspects of food technology, the Committee noted that the Nutrition Division is particularly concerned with all technological considerations that will lead to better utilization of food and to improved nutrition. It drew attention to the importance of further co-ordinating and concentrating work within the Organization on food technology.

18. The work of the Nutrition Division in this field had followed the same pattern as in previous years. However, some new developments are occurring which may well become particularly important in the future. These are:

1. The development of projects in food science and technology under the United Nations Special Fund;

2. the development of protein-rich foods;

3. food standards.

Modern and traditional methods of food processing

19. Under the regular and technical assistance programs specialists in food technology have worked in several countries to survey the present stage of development of food processing industries where both modern and traditional methods are in use, to recommend improvements and to prepare plans for applied research in this field. In most cases this work has been associated with the activities of laboratories either actively engaged in or intending to embark on such research.

20. In several instances the future development of this research will occur through projects under the United Nations Special Fund and will include modern and traditional systems of food processing as well as the development of protein-rich foods. The Committee noted that about one quarter of the total workload of the Branch has been concerned with the preparation of such projects.

Protein-rich foods (other than milk)

21. The Committee noted with approval the formation of the WHO/FAD/UNICEF Protein Advisory Group which is resulting in better co-ordination of work in this broad field. Good progress has been made in a number of countries in using protein-rich foods of vegetable origin in feeding programs and for general sale to the public.

22. Interest in the use of different kinds of fish flour for human consumption has been stimulated by several recent conferences and meetings and there appear to be good prospects of rapid developments in this field. Since fish flours of different kinds can now be produced in a few countries, large-scale acceptability trials followed by promotion campaigns are possible.

23. The Committee noted that staff resources are insufficient to accelerate the development of the protein-rich foods program.

Training in food science and technology

24. The Committee approved plans to continue activities in training in food technology through regional centers, such as the proposed Regional Training Center in Food Technology for Asia and the Far East and hoped that such activities will receive assistance from the Freedom from Hunger Campaign or the United Nations Special Fund.

Food irradiation

25. The Committee noted the Division's close collaboration with the Atomic Energy Branch in organizing meetings in which the preservation of food by ionizing radiations and the safety and nutritive adequacy of irradiated foods are studied. A staff member serves as a representative of the Technical Department on the OECD Study Group on Irradiation.

Food additives, food control and legislation, food standards

26. The Committee welcomed the development, according to plan, of the FAO/WHO program on food additives. The activities included three more expert meetings, continued publication of the periodical Current food additives in cooperation with the Rural Legislation Branch and of the Food Additive Control series. So far, activities in food control and legislation have been sporadic and have taken place mainly under EPTA.

27. The Committee approved the activities of the Division in cooperation with other Divisions in developing proposals for a comprehensive program in food standards (Codex Alimentarius) and agreed that this work is worthy of expansion, provided that funds from outside the Regular Budget become available.

Applied nutrition

28. The Committee noted the great increase in the responsibilities and activities under this head caused primarily by emphasis on training in nutrition and the rapid increase in the number of field projects concerned with education in nutrition. It strongly endorsed the emphasis on training believing that the progress of all national and international efforts to improve food and nutrition conditions depends largely on the availability of adequately trained personnel able to translate scientific knowledge into actual benefit for people.

National nutrition services

29. The Committee was glad to learn that assistance has been given to a number of countries in developing newer or stronger national nutrition organizations and that it was proposed to intensify this activity.

Training in nutrition

30. The Committee emphasized the urgent need for training not only specialists in nutrition but also professional workers in other disciplines (e.g., agriculture, health, education and community development) who have opportunities for encouraging better nutrition through improved production and use of food. It also emphasized that administrators and national policy-makers need to have an appreciation of the nutrition problems in their respective countries and the possibilities for solving them. Some progress has been made through regional and national seminars or training courses as well as the fellowship program.

31. It noted the importance to be given to training in Africa through the FAO/UNICEF program and requested that nutrition as well as home economics be given emphasis in the proposed FAO Special Program of Agricultural Education and Training in that region.

32. The Committee pointed out however, that the great need for improved nutrition in Asia and the Far East should not be forgotten and therefore welcomed the proposal for a joint FAO/WHO training seminar on nutrition for senior personnel included in the program for 1963.

33. The Committee noted that the recommendations arising out of the recent survey of nutrition training facilities and needs in a number of countries in Latin America, Africa and the Far East, carried out by FAO, WHO and UNICEF would make it possible for greater assistance to be given to training, in particular to the strengthening or development of permanent nutrition training facilities. Similar surveys in other regions would be useful. It considered that training in nutrition should occupy an important place in the long-term program.

Education in nutrition

34. The Committee noted the rapid increase in the number of countries developing integrated programs of nutrition education and related practical activities, with assistance from UNICEF, FAO and usually WHO. It welcomed this new approach which aims at improving nutrition at the village level through the co-ordinated efforts of agricultural, home economics, community development, health and education services. Such an approach involves schools, homes and communities in practical action by linking the teaching of nutrition with supplementary feeding of mothers and children and with the development of schools and community gardens, livestock units and fish ponds. FAO's technical responsibility for assisting governments in the preparation of project plans and in the recruitment and supervision of field personnel to assist in their implementation was recognized.

35. The Committee noted the steps taken to develop nutrition textbooks adapted to conditions in individual countries and hoped that this work would be pursued.

36. Reference has been made in paragraphs 21-23 to the development of protein-rich foods. The Committee welcomed the work now being undertaken to promote the consumption of such products and noted that this would be intensified as new products become available.

Large-scale feeding and catering

37. School feeding has long occupied an important place in the work of FAO. The Committee noted that in many countries school feeding is now an integral part of the education programs referred to above. The Committee was pleased to note the initiation of activities in the field of workers' feeding and expressed the hope that this would not be confined to Europe and the Near East but extended to other regions.

Basic studies

38. The Committee regretted that studies to promote a sound basis for developing applied nutrition programs cannot be undertaken on a satisfactory scale in view of the other urgent demands on staff resources. Important examples are studies on methods of nutrition education, methods of evaluation of applied nutrition programs and on simple ways of assessing cultural and socio-economic conditions influencing food consumption.

Home economics

39. The Committee noted with satisfaction that more attention has been given to those activities in Home Economics which have a direct bearing on the improvement of family and community welfare, especially nutrition, housing, home management and child care.

40. The Committee approved the broad scope of the home economics program and considered that present activities should be further strengthened and extended particularly through field programs. It recognized the importance of home economics in assisting families to adapt to rapidly changing social and economic conditions.

Education and training in home economics

41. A major part of the work is concerned with the promotion of education and training in home economics at secondary school, college and university levels, particularly in Latin America, the Far East and Near East. The Committee endorsed this emphasis and supported the efforts being made to increase the number of adequately trained personnel for work in this field. It noted particularly the opportunities for increased collaboration with UNICEF, the United Nations Bureau of Social Affairs and WHO in programs to improve maternal and child nutrition and other aspects of family welfare which have opened up through UNICEF-assisted projects in mothercraft/homecraft and nutrition education and related activities. All of these call for trained personnel.

Home economics in extension and community development

42. FAO's home economic field workers are to an increasing extent engaged in activities which are part of broad programs of agriculture and home economics extension and community development. The Committee recognized that these are effective channels for reaching rural families and should be used to the fullest extent possible. Special note was taken of the work in Europe promoted through the Subcommission on Extension in Agriculture, Home Economics and Rural Youth of the European Commission on Agriculture, and special ad hoc advisory group meetings in this region.

42a. The Committee noted the progress made since the last Conference in encouraging more research in various aspects of home economics and the social sciences which are basic to an understanding of patterns of family life and the development of sound programs. It stressed the need to continue these activities and to promote a wider exchange of research findings.

Appraisal and evaluation

43. The Committee welcomed the attention being given to the evaluation of home economics field programs and noted the need for establishing base lines and developing suitable methods for evaluation. The UNICEF assisted mothercraft/homecraft projects provide special opportunities to include evaluation in all phases of project planning and implementation.

Social work and home economics

44. The Committee was informed of a study carried out by the Division in a number of countries in Africa and Latin America on the relation of the home economist to the social worker in helping to raise levels of family living. It was felt that the findings of these studies and of the UN/FAD Meeting on the Role of Social Workers and Home Economists in Meeting Family Needs should be fully used in developing programs in countries where specialists in various family services cannot as yet be provided.

Developments not included in the program of work and budget for 1962-63

Regional food and nutrition commissions

45. The Committee noted with interest recommendations recently made concerning the establishment of regional food and nutrition commissions and considered that these could be most valuable in stimulating nutrition work and co-ordinating action. It gave particular attention to the recommendation arising out of the FAO/WHO/CCTA Fourth Inter-African Conference on Food and Nutrition held at Douala (Cameroun) in September 1961 that such a commission should be formed to co-ordinate all aspects of work on nutrition including the promotion of training and research in Africa. It noted that the FAO Regional Office would have responsibility for servicing this commission in co-operation with the WHO Regional Office. It was noted that it was proposed in the 1962-63 budget to strengthen the staff of the FAO Regional Office in Accra by the addition of two staff members. This should enable the Regional Office personnel to service such a commission; if additional assistance were found to be necessary, this would be a logical demand on the regional EPTA program and could be taken into account in the 1963-64 biennium. The Committee considered that the attention of Commission 11 of the FAO Conference should be brought to this important development.

46. The Committee supported in principle the establishment of similar commissions in other regions where the need for such commissions is recognized by the governments concerned and the necessary funds can be obtained.

Dissemination of information

47. The Committee commended the Division for the large number of publications which had been issued since the last session of the Conference and noted with interest the wide range of subject matter covered in reports of special consultants and field staff working under EPTA or UNICEF Trust Funds. The Committee considered that the wealth of information amassed by the Nutrition Division should be available to a much greater audience. It suggested that consideration should be given to issuing periodically, in mimeographed form, an annotated list covering the publications of the Division as well as reports received from consultants and field experts. Distribution could be made through National FAO Committees and national nutrition organizations who, in turn, would have responsibility for bringing the material to the attention of interested workers. The Committee recognized that the preparation of such a list (for example, twice a year) might add to the already heavy burden of the regular staff. It hoped, however, that it could be tried out in the course of the next biennium.

Home Economics Advisory Group

48. The Home Economics Branch has long felt the need for a group of experts who could advise on long-term program planning and developments. Recent activities, many of which involve relations with other Divisions end with UNICEF, the United Nations Bureau of Social Affairs, WHO and UNESCO, call for new approaches and emphasis. The Committee approved the suggestion that a standing advisory group be established, and that such a group be convened in the course of the 1962-63 biennium if savings in the Division's meeting budget accrue; otherwise, consideration should be given to planning for such a meeting in the 1964 65 biennium.


49. At the Ninth Session of the Conference a substantial addition to the staff of the Nutrition Division was recommended for the next four to five years. It was stated that " An addition equivalent to perhaps some 10-15 staff members, including consultant services, could effectively be utilized in the different phases of the Division's work, at Headquarters and in the regions, in accordance with the needs of the growing program in its various aspects."

50. Between 1957 and the present years the number of professional staff employed in the Division increased from 27 to 35. Of this increase two are employed at Headquarters and six on field activities.

51. The new posts included in the 1962-63 Program of Work and Budget are, at Headquarters, a Liaison Officer for the Director's office, a Food Policy and Planning Officer for the Food Consumption and Planning Branch; a Food Promotion Officer for the Applied Nutrition Branch and a Food Technologist for the Food Science and Technology Branch and, in the Regional Office for Africa, a Nutrition Officer, mainly concerned with food consumption and planning, and a Home Economics Officer.

52. In the light of the developments described to it, the Committee was convinced that the proposed addition of six professional staff members is fully justified and will barely permit the Division to carry out its functions effectively.

53. If these additional posts are approved, 14 additional members of staff will be employed in comparison with the 10-15 recommended in 1957. Since then, however, the scope of the work has been greatly expanded by the inauguration of the Freedom from Hunger Campaign and the establishment of the United Nations Special Fund. The Committee recognized that these expansions require increase in work at Headquarters and felt that this should not be at the expense of the Regular Budget.

54. It was apparent throughout the discussions of the Committee that the developing work under all programs is imposing demands on the regular staff which make impossible adequate maintenance of the regular program. It appeared to the Committee that several additions to the professional staff would be needed not later than the 1964-65 biennium; otherwise some aspects of the work could not be carried out.

Suggestions for long-term developments

55. The Committee noted that the Division's program has in general, been orientated in line with the Forward Appraisal approved by the last session of the Conference with even greater emphasis on applied nutrition and food science and technology, the latter having been accelerated due to developments under the Special Fund. It considered that work in food consumption and planning and home economics should be further strengthened in coming years and that training and education in the fields of nutrition, food technology and home economics should be emphasized. In developing the future program of work, the Committee considered that account should be taken also of the following:

(a) placing primary emphasis on work in developing countries; (b) underlining the importance of nutrition in the assistance that FAO can give to those who have the responsibility of preparing plans for agricultural and economic development;

(c) underlining nutritional considerations in other FAO activities such as those concerned with the production and utilization of food, surplus utilization, and Freedom from Hunger

(d) keeping abreast of scientific developments and their application to the work of the Division;

(e) giving greater attention to suitable methods of evaluating field programs; reports of appraisals undertaken should be made available to the Conference

(f) in co-ordinating work with other international agencies and, as far as possible, with bilateral aid programs, separating the spheres of responsibility so as to avoid duplication

(g) to alleviate the financial and other problems in recruiting staff, giving consideration to the long-term use of consultants under Trust Fund arrangements;

(h) the urgent need to train and employ experts for national work who also may serve as needed in international programs of assistance; this might involve not only the strengthening of training facilities, but also the establishment of new posts at the national level;

(i) co-ordinating programs in nutrition and home economics with those in agricultural extension;

(j) stressing the need to give further attention to methods of food storage as a means of reducing the present serious losses.

56. All these useful ideas should be assigned priorities within the future limitations of the budget.

VII. Joint meeting - agriculture and forestry

Shifting cultivation

1. The Committee stressed the importance of the problem of shifting cultivation in many developing countries, especially in the African region and to a lesser degree in the Far East. It gave' general approval to the program of work proposed by FAO.

2. The Committee recognized the fact that shifting cultivation was a way of life and, as such, could not be dealt with only from a purely technical point of view and required an integrated approach taking into account economic and social aspects. Shifting cultivation being perhaps, under present circumstances, the best way to utilize soils in some parts of the world, the Committee suggested that a concentration of the rotations on smaller but better-managed areas could be one of the means to obtain a sustained yield from the soil.

3. The examples quoted by several delegations confirmed that the problems in shifting cultivation differ greatly according to ecological circumstances and to population density. In the savanna areas one of the main aims should be to promote a settled mixed farming associating agriculture and livestock production. The introduction of a fodder crop in the rotation could be an excellent means to reach this aim where ecological conditions were favorable. In the forest areas major attention should be given to ensuring a proper regrowth of the forest cover, in those cases where immediate elimination of shifting cultivation was not feasible.

4. Some delegations stressed that the encroachment of crop production on subdesert areas, which should be reserved for grazing, could also be considered as a form of shifting cultivation, and should be given proper attention.

5. The Committee agreed that, owing to the diversity of the types of shifting cultivation, a valuable first step toward the solution of the problem should be to send small teams of experts to appraise the situation in the countries concerned. Many delegations stressed that such teams should make full use of past research and local experience.

6. Several delegations, however, emphasized that FAO should also continue the studies of a more general nature which were now under way, and complement them with other studies of a more specific character, in such fields as tools, implements farm transport equipment, use of fertilizers.

7. The Committee noted with interest that a meeting on shifting cultivation in West Africa was planned by FAO in 1963.

Wildlife management

8. The Committee considered in detail the past activities and future programs of FAO and expressed its full support for the program as outlined by the secretariat. It urged that FAO should provide assistance to Member Governments in the development of properly planned wildlife conservation and management policies.

9. Recognizing furthermore the competence of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in matters dealing with scientific aspects of wildlife conservation the Committee welcomed IUCN's collaboration with FAO as a consultative body.

10. To assist in formulating such policies, the Committee endorsed the action of the ad hoc Working Party of the African Forestry Commission in the periodic review of wildlife policy and in the preparation of a draft African convention for the conservation of wildlife through controlled use.

11. The Committee endorsed the need for guidance in wildlife management. Not only was it necessary to ensure that such management was properly integrated into land-use programs but also research was essential to determine how game ranching and cropping could be carried out economically and without damage to other forms of agriculture and forestry. Although the potential value of wildlife as a source of much needed protein was obvious, there were doubts expressed in regard to the practical difficulties of game handling and cropping. Further investigations were necessary.

12. Having heard from the Observer of IUCN a comprehensive statement on the work and policy of the Union in Africa leading up to the CCTA/IUCN Conference at Arusha, Tanganyika in September 1961, the Committee supported the recommendation for the establishment of a small team to visit countries in Africa in order to assess potentialities and to advise on wildlife development programs. The meeting had been informed that the Executive Chairman of the Technical Assistance Board had already allocated funds to meet the costs of the team in 1962 as well as certain surveys into urgent problems of wildlife management.

13. Although the Committee was in agreement that attention should at present be focused mainly in Africa, FAO was requested to expand its work in future biennia similarly into other regions in collaboration with IUCN.

14. Attention was drawn to the need to include in the study of pesticides and their application, the special problems set by the effects on wildlife.

15. Attention was drawn to the great importance of landscape planning and management, both in rural and urban areas, and the Committee requested FAO to maintain close contact with the Commission on Ecology of IUCN in this field.

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