National measures for the improvement of marketing structure and organization for agricultural, forestry and fisheries products
92. The Conference considered the Director-General's note on National Measures for the Improvement of Marketing Structure and Organization for Agricultural, Forestry and Fisheries Products (C 57/19). It felt that this was a valuable statement on a subject which had hitherto received less than due attention. The importance of marketing in the development of agriculture, fisheries and forestry and in consumer welfare was given special emphasis. This field was one to which increasing attention should be given both by Governments and in the FAO Regular and Technical Assistance Programs.
93. In many ways marketing presented problems even more challenging than those of production. Whereas few would fail to appreciate recommendations leading to an increase in production efficiency, the value of measures to improve efficiency in marketing was not always so well understood. Yet the relatively small proportion of the price paid by the consumer that was actually returned to the primary producer was a continuing grievance. Much of the difference went to pay for services valued by consumers, but in many countries there was evidence that wasteful and inefficient handling of farm, fishery and forest products and unsatisfactory market organization added much to this spread between producer and consumer prices. The Conference stressed that reductions in the cost of marketing were one of the best ways to improve farm incomes because in this way it could be done without a corresponding increase in consumer prices.
94. In many areas this general problem was intensified by rapid urbanization, by the steady growth in the demand for better quality and a greater variety of goods as a result of increasing consumer incomes, and by the need to provide enlarged marketing facilities to handle the output of new production developments. All these factors contributed to emphasize the importance of effective and flexible marketing structures as a means to agricultural, fishery and forest development and better nutrition.
95. The Conference noted that it was characteristic of the marketing problems of countries undergoing accelerated economic development that they arose simultaneously all along the line from the planning of production for sale, through the various wholesale and marketing phases, to retail distribution. These various phases were so closely interrelated, and the difficulty of breaking through this inter-dependence had been so great, that in many parts of the world relatively little had been done to improve and modernize marketing organization and procedure. Improvements in any one of the various marketing phases usually required corresponding improvements in other phases.
96. The Conference recognized that a basic difficulty was the large number of small independent enterprises involved in the production and marketing process. Many farmers, fishermen and forest owners, for example, were not able to achieve the uniformity needed in their products for them to be handled economically and presented to consumers in an attractive form. Similarly, the assembly of small saleable quantities from predominantly subsistence producers presented problems of organization and an uncertainty in supply that hampered economical marketing.
97. At the other end of the marketing chain, the small scale of operations and unsatisfactory organization of business enterprises in the retail phases of marketing added greatly to operating costs. There was an efficient scale of operation for each enterprise, given the techniques and equipment available in its environment, but because of institutional obstacles and lack of knowledge and capital, many did not attain it. Detailed surveys had shown that irrational handling charges and local monopolies and malpractices also often added much to the cost of marketing.
98. Likewise, the processing and wholesaling phases were often unsatisfactory, not only because the inefficiencies at preceding and subsequent stages hindered the introduction of improved handling, packing and processing methods, but also because of inadequate storage, transport and communication facilities.
99. All this prevented produce from reaching the consumer cheaply with unimpaired quality, augmented the cost of marketing by technical inefficiencies and substantial waste, and reduced the flow much below that desirable and possible. The high cost of marketing kept returns to primary producers low and reduced their ability to improve their own efficiency.
100. The additional functions that producers, processers and distributors of agricultural, fishery and forestry products were called upon to undertake as a country developed, required capital investment in equipment and facilities. Where the number of enterprises was large and their size small, and where credit institutions were inadequate, sufficient capital to finance needed warehouses, processing plants, vehicles and boats, containers and other equipment was rarely available and often excessively costly. In addition, operating capital for the marketing of perishable produce was especially difficult to obtain.
101. The Conference emphasized that another characteristic obstacle to efficient marketing in less developed countries was that existing marketing structures and organizations did not allow those participating in the marketing process to operate with sufficient knowledge of all the facts This. too, was in part due to the large number of small enterprises involved. Ignorance of marketing conditions on the part of producers and traders might restrict production and consumption, especially of perishable protective foods.
102. The Conference considered that in order to meet consumer demand for perishables at lower prices a closely integrated marketing system was essential. Planting, harvesting, packing and handling, grading, preservation, transport, cold storage and retail distribution must all be carefully interrelated to minimize delay and wastage. This was especially necessary for fresh fruit and vegetables, milk, meat and fish.
103. Initially private enterprises might be reluctant to invest in modern processing and distribution facilities. Where no other solution was forthcoming, it might be advisable for the Government to promote the establishment and operation of key facilities, which subsequently might be leased or sold to private operators or co-operatives.
104. The establishment of commodity marketing boards, with powers to introduce quality grades and improved marketing procedures, set up unified purchasing and sales organizations, etc., was another approach that had often led to substantial accomplishment, particularly in export marketing.
105. Projects to solve the marketing problems attendant upon a highly fragmented production pattern were still largely experimental. The replacement of the merchant money lender, who combined the provision of credit with the assembly of produce from small farmers, forest owners or fishermen, by a less exacting but no less efficient substitute had been the subject of many investigations and proposals. Many countries considered that a logical alternative would be the multi-purpose cooperative society able to combine the functions of the village shopkeeper under one management. Progress in this direction had been hampered by the lack of executive staff with the necessary marketing education and business training. It was noted, however, that many countries, in Africa and South East Asia especially, were persevering with co-operative development programs with the objective of assuring to most farmers an alternative credit and marketing agency within a practicable distance, thus limiting the danger of local monopolies. The Conference urged FAO to study further the possibilities of co-operative marketing in the light of the difficulties experienced.
106. Sale by personal inspection was more difficult as marketing became more complex and it was therefore essential to establish weights and measures, grades and standards in order to facilitate sale by accurate description. The Conference considered that the provision of the market information, grading, certification, inspection and other services involved could be co-ordinated most effectively with the aid of a central marketing department staffed with trained marketing specialists. It was noted that specialized courses were now being arranged in some countries for personnel entering the Government marketing service. There was also a need for marketing extension work and training in business practices and practical marketing for those engaged in actual commercial operations.
107. The special importance of improving the marketing of fishery products was stressed by a number of countries in view of the perishability of the product and the considerable distances that often separated producer and consumer. Several countries reported that progress had been made in the intro. auction of improved marketing schemes and facilities.
108. It was noted that excessive fragmentation of producing and processing units also raised specific marketing problems in the field of forestry. These could be met by the adoption of appropriate handling techniques and cooperative organization.
109. The Conference agreed that pilot projects, if preceded by an adequate investigation, were a useful approach to marketing reorganization. If limited to a small area, such projects should enable the necessary attention to be given to all phases of the marketing process, within the limits of available capital and managerial and technical skills. Extension of successful pilot projects was likely to be much easier than the implementation ab initio of large-scale marketing reorganizations. It was considered that in setting up such pilot projects maximum advantage should be taken of existing trade facilities.
110. The Conference noted the measures for the improvement of marketing structure and organization that were being taken in many countries and in a variety of fields. In order to take more advantage of this accumulating experience the Conference agreed that periodic regional meetings of marketing personnel would be valuable. The meetings might coincide with regional Training Courses insofar as financial limitations permitted, and thus serve an instructional purpose in addition. Recognizing the usefulness of such meetings the Government of Iran issued a formal invitation to countries of the Near Eastern region to participate in a technical conference of marketing specialists in Teheran in June and July 1958. The Governments of Japan and India also offered to accommodate marketing trainees from other countries. The relevance was noted of progress in those countries to the problems of other areas where similar conditions prevailed.
111. Appreciation of the effective contribution made by FAO to marketing improvement programs was expressed by many countries. Particular emphasis was laid on the work of Technical Assistance Advisers in the countries, on the Fellowships Scheme and on the continuing value of training programs organized under FAO auspices. The Conference felt that a continuing program of meetings and courses might be an efficient way of focussing experience on the specialized problems in the different regions and of training an expanding cadre of marketing specialists. In this connection it recommended that FAO undertake further study of measures to improve national marketing systems. The importance of FAO assistance in the promotion and guidance of research on marketing problems characteristic of the less developed countries was also emphasized.
112. The Conference accordingly adopted the following Resolution:
Resolution No. 11/57
Marketing of Agricultural, Forestry and Fisheries Products
Considering that accelerating economic development calls for more farm, fish and forest products to meet consumer demands and nutritional standards, with an increasing proportion of perishable goods, and that, in many countries, this involves important changes and additions in the production-marketing structure, including a transition from subsistence to commercial production;
Considering further that advance in this direction is obstructed because many closely interrelated aspects of agricultural production and marketing must be improved and modernized in balance with one another, and that progress in this field can often best be made if first attempted in local, but comprehensive pilot projects;
Considering also that there is scope for better use of accumulating marketing experience and specialized skills by promoting contacts among the staff engaged in marketing development programs in the various countries and that this can be achieved through periodic regional meetings which might be combined, where possible, with training courses for managerial and technical staffs;
Urges Member Governments to make adequate provision for marketing work in their development programs and to give due attention to balancing increases in production for sale with corresponding improvements in marketing, processing and transport organization and facilities;
Recommends that Member Governments should consider undertaking local pilot projects to test the value of a comprehensive approach to problems requiring the integration of production, assembly and distribution;
Further urges them, in order to make the best use of accumulating marketing experience, to collaborate in periodic regional meetings combined, where convenient, with the training of specialized personnel;
Requests the Director-General to assist in these undertakings to the extent that funds are available both under the Regular and the Expanded Technical Assistance Programs, and particularly by organizing regional meetings and training centers.
Nutrition and food policy including education in nutrition and home economics
113. The Conference considered the Director-General's memorandum on the above subject (C 57/18). The first of the objectives of FAO as stated in the Preamble to its Constitution was to raise levels of nutrition, implying that the success of national and international policies to develop food production and improve its distribution should be judged by what they achieved in providing a better dier for the mass of the population. While many governments had shown increasing interest in nutrition during recent years, and while the need to take account of nutritional principles in developing food policies had been emphasized repeatedly at various FAO regional conferences, the basic objective of better nutrition was not always kept in view in formulating and implementing national plans for economic and social development which covered food production and distribution.
114. The feet that many governments were planning food production as part of broader plans for development offered good opportunities for linking food policies with the aim of better nutrition. The rapid increase in population now taking place in most parts of the world made it urgently necessary that nutritional requirements should be estimated as accurately as possible and taken into account in formulating food supply targets. The increasing trend towards urbanization and industrialization in hitherto mainly agricultural countries raised new problems of food supply and nutrition. Finally, people all over the world were demanding better standards of living and higher levels of nutrition. The Conference emphasized that these and other considerations reinforced the importance of putting into practice without further delay the nutritional principles underlying the work of FAO.
115. The Conference recognized that inadequate purchasing power was the major obstacle to achieving the goal of better nutrition. The special chapter in the Director-General's report on the State of Food and Agriculture 1957, reviewing the factors influencing food consumption emphasized once again the association between nutritional improvement and general economic development. The Conference paid particular attention to the study of the influence of income. as derived from household consumption data. It expressed the view that this type of study appeared a very promising field, especially in connection with the preparation of economic development plans. The Conference therefore stressed the importance of intensifying work on factors influencing food consumption, through the assembly of basic data and the improvement of methods of analyzing consumption trends.
116. But while substantial improvement in food consumption could be expected only as a result of increases in real income. especially that of the poorer sections of the population in underdeveloped areas, the Conference emphasized that a good deal could be done to improve nutrition pending a general raising of living standards. For example, it was possible to improve to some extent the diet of the poorer and most vulnerable groups in the population through the subsidized or free distribution of foods of high nutritive value. Again, much could be done to teach people to make better use of limited incomes and resources through education in nutrition and home economics.
117. A further important point was that increasing income did not necessarily result in the consumption of a well balanced diet and the solution of all problems of nutrition. A rise in income might sometimes mean a greater use of more sophisticated but less nutritious foods, and extra purchasing power was not necessarily used for food but rather for other services and goods. Indeed, problems of nutrition were by no means confined to the underdeveloped countries and occurred even in economically advanced countries, where they might be associated with over-consumption as well as with under-consumption.
118. The effective association of nutritional objectives with food policies called for the existence of appropriate nutritional services and national organizations. There was still a lack of well trained nutrition workers in many countries, though during the last ten years their number had substantially increased. Nutrition services and organizations either did not exist or were inadequately staffed and equipped and were hence incapable of providing the necessary guidance and leadership. Again, the results of nutrition research often did not bear fruit in the field of application because of lack of effective contact between nutrition workers and authorities concerned with food and agricultural policy.
119. The Conference recalled that the Hot Springs Conference had strongly advocated the establishment of national nutrition organizations, where these did not exist, concerned with the improvement of nutrition through coordinated national action, recommending that they should be composed of authorities in health, nutrition, economics and agriculture, together with administrators and consumers' representatives; that they should be provided with adequate funds and facilities for the efficient conduct of their work and have the authority to bring their recommendations to the attention of the public and to those agencies of government which dealt with agriculture and the framing of economic and social policy. The Hot Springs Conference also recommended that governments should reexamine and, if necessary, reorganize existing agencies and review legislation concerned with health, agriculture and nutrition to the end that food and nutrition policies may be effectively carried out.
120. During the early years of FAO the question of national nutrition organizations had been discussed at various conferences and recommendations supporting their establishment had been made. However, a different type of body, namely, the FAO National Committee, had come into existence to serve essentially as liaison committees between FAO and its Member Governments. Among the duties of the FAO National Committees was the preparation of the periodic progress and program reports to FAO referred to in Article XI of the Constitution. These reports were intended to record the progress made by Governments towards achieving the objectives of FAO, with special emphasis on the raising of nutritional levels. Article XI reports had not, however, in general provided such information, probably because many governments had not established national nutrition organizations of the type recommended at Hot Springs, and, where such organizations existed, had not assigned to them the task of collaborating in the preparation of Article XI reports.
121. National nutrition organizations themselves had often been ineffective and had failed to survive. Among the reasons for this had been the lack in some countries of trained nutrition workers to provide necessary leadership, a point referred to earlier. Another had been the absence of clearly defined functions, adequate funds to carry out required investigations and sufficient authority to influence national policies and programs. The Conference therefore considered that the aim of orienting food policies towards better nutrition would be facilitated by the establishment of national nutrition organizations with recognized functions and authority as well as adequate funds and facilities. In addition to exercising their primary function of nutritional improvement through co-ordinating national action, they could also undertake the associated task of assessing changes in levels of nutrition and reporting periodically to FAO on the progress achieved.
122. While the proposals put forward at Hot Springs might serve as a general guide, the precise arrangements adopted to attain the cod in view would differ from country to country in accordance with administrative convenience and local conditions. The essential aim was to influence the framing of national policies in the agricultural, economic and social fields so that these took account of nutritional concepts. This could be achieved by the adequate representation of the nutrition organization in the policy planning organizations. Alternatively, and especially where a nutrition organization as such was not available, personnel trained in nutrition could be closely associated with the planning organizations. The Conference stressed that, whatever arrangement was made and whatever procedure was adopted, it was essential that the planning organizations should be assisted regularly and continuously by nutrition workers specialized in the food and agricultural aspects of planning for economic and social development.
123. Clearly, in developing food policies. nutritional principles had to be considered in the light of numerous agricultural, economic and social factors. They must not, however. be ignored in reaching final decisions. Another point of importance was that the satisfaction of full nutritional requirements could not be attained at once or in the near future in many countries and must therefore be reached through successive stages. Furthermore, in planning domestic patterns of food production in relation to national consumption objectives, due consideration must obviously be given to external sources of supply.
124. FAO could help Member Governments in raising levels of nutrition but the necessary action was the responsibility of the Governments themselves. A member of Governments had asked FAO during recent years for nutrition experts to assist them in relating food policies to the nutritional needs of their peoples. The Conference hoped that FAO would be of increasing assistance in this field.
125. The Conference adopted the following Resolution:
Resolution No. 12/57
Nutrition and Food Policy, Including Education in Nutrition and Home Economics
Regretting that the objective of raising levels of nutrition, the first of those stated in the Preamble to the Constitution, is not always kept fully in view in developing national food production and consumption policies;
Believing that the increasing efforts of many Governments to plan food and agricultural development as part of broader plans of economic and social development offer enhanced opportunities to link such policies with the aim of better nutrition:
Recommends that Member Governments:
1. Take due account of the nutritional needs of their populations in formulating and implementing policies and plans relating to food production and consumption, including international trade in food;
2. Establish, where these are needed, national nutrition organizations along the lines recommended by the Hot Springs Conference, providing them with adequate authority and means to influence such policies and plans. or make other appropriate arrangements to achieve the same objective, and
3. Include in their periodic progress and program reports to FAO (Article XI Reports) an account of the steps taken to raise levels of nutrition and the progress achieved: and
Requests the Director-General:
1. To give on request increasing assistance to Member Governments in developing food policies and plans based sound nutritional priciples, and
2. To report to the next regular Conference Session on the extent to which national food policies are being oriented towards better nutrition for the people, taking into account not only local food production but also international trade in food.
D. 1960 world census of agriculture
126. The Conference reviewed the Director-General's plans for the 1960 World Census of Agriculture. It noted that, in carrying out the recommendations of the Eighth Session, the Director-General had submitted a Draft Program for the 1960 Census successively to five regional meetings and, finally, to a meeting of international experts in Rome to complete the Program. In taking note of the Program as completed in accordance with its directives, the Conference expressed its appreciation of the work performed and of the co-operation received from the United Nations and other international agencies in completing the work.
127. It welcomed the changes in the Programs compared with the 1950 World Census, in keeping with post-war developments in the organization and structure of agriculture. It noted with satisfaction that social aspects of agriculture were included in the new Program, in accordance with the wishes of the General Assembly of the United Nations and of the Economic and Social Council. It expressed the view that, while international comparability of certain results was an important objective, the Program must be adapted primarily to meet the countries' own needs. It therefore welcomed the greater flexibility of the 1960 Program.
128. The Conference stressed that this increased flexibility would have its maximum value only if it took full advantage of the more numerous features of agricultural structure and organization common to individual regions rather than to the world as a whole. It was therefore necessary for FAO, in line with the recommendations of the meeting of census experts in Rome, to hold further consultations in the different regions to prepare regional programs within the framework of the World Program. In this way the main items of importance to the world as a whole, the characteristics common to individual regions and the contrasts between one region and another would be fully brought out. The Conference noted that these further consultations would make use of existing regional bodies, avoiding duplication of effort, and would not require additional resources.
129. It was suggested that FAO might, in their further consultations, attempt to obtain a clarification of the concept of "holding" and also information on ownership of holding, the pattern of land tenure and the relationship between owner and holder, and other social characteristics. Information on related activities of the agricultural population outside agriculture proper, e.g. cottage and other rural industries and seasonal employment, was also considered very important. There was a need for collecting information on occupations allied to agriculture. It was considered important, however, that the census questionnaire should not be overloaded. Such additional information might be investigated by special sample surveys.
130. The Conference reaffirmed the importance of FAO's work in promoting the 1960 World Census of Agriculture and reemphasized the desirability of a full participation by all countries. In this connection, it noted with satisfaction that a number of governments had already announced their intention to participate and would inform FAO of their census plans and of any assistance they might need.
131. The Conference endorsed the emphasis given by FAO to the importance of sampling techniques in census taking. It felt that the use of sampling would enable many countries that did not participate in the 1950 Census because of lack of funds or personnel for a complete enumeration, to obtain reliable data at small cost. It would also enable advanced countries to enlarge the scope of their census programs to cover topics more difficult than those contained in the FAO Program. Sampling would also facilitate the preparation of advance estimates of important census results not otherwise available until well after the census was completed. It was not, however, suggested that sampling methods could fully replace a complete agricultural scheme. The Conference welcomed the studies being prepared by FAO on the application of sampling to census taking and recommended that these studies, as well as Vol. 2 of the 1950 World Census Report dealing with census methodology, should be made available as early as possible to assist those countries taking the census before 1960.
132. It was recognized that participation in the World Census Program depended in many cases on the extent to which assistance would be provided to countries, especially under the Expanded Technical Assistance Program. The Conference therefore welcomed the joint efforts being made by FAO and the United Nations Statistical Office to promote the world agriculture and population censuses through joint training centers and documentation. It approved the proposal to set up jointly with the United Nations two training centers in 1958, one for Asia and the Far East and one for Latin America, and two more in 1959, one for the Near East and one for African countries in collaboration with the Commission for Technical Co-operation in Africa South of the Sahara (CCTA). Some countries expressed the hope that consultations and training programs could be completed by early 1959. The Conference expressed its appreciation of the offer of the Government of Japan to act as host to the proposed training center in the Far East.
133. The Conference noted that tabulation often accounted for as much as half of a country's total expenditure on a census, and that many less developed countries had had difficulty in organizing and completing the tabulations for the 1950 Census of Agriculture, as well as for population censuses. The Conference therefore welcomed the series of studies on data processing by manual and punch card methods at present being prepared jointly by FAO and the United Nations Statistical Office. and recommended their early completion and distribution for use in the 1960 Census. Moreover, it was desirable that FAO should develop a program for providing direct advice and assistance to those countries requesting help in their census tabulations. The Conference strongly recommended that facilities should be made available for training census officials in the problems and methods of census tabulation, in collaboration, if practical, with the International Computation Center of UNESCO and the Statistical Office of the United Nations. Indeed, in view of the importance of training technicians in underdeveloped countries in tabulation methods over the whole field of statistics, including censuses, the Conference expressed the hope that FAO would develop, together with the UNESCO Computation Center a continuing program for training in data processing methods.
134. The Conference noted that a number of less developed countries expressed interest in having their census data tabulated centrally by electronic computors, provided the confidential nature of the data were safeguarded under international supervision and provided important savings in costs and time were made. The Conference recognized that in many countries statutory and other considerations precluded the release of the original data to outside bodies. Nevertheless it felt that, if a sufficient number of countries were willing and able to release their data for central tabulation, this form of direct assistance to Governments could be of great value. The Conference therefore recommended that the Director-General should explore the possibilities in this field.
135. The Conference adopted the following Resolution
Resolution No. 13/57
1960 World Census of Agriculture
Takes note of the Program for the 1960 World Census of Agriculture prepared in accordance with Resolution No. 21/55 of the Eighth Session, and further notes that the group of international experts on the Census Program convened in Rome has also recommended the preparation of regional programs;
Approves the Program for distribution to Member and Non-Member Governments,
Recognizes that many countries experienced difficulties in planning, taking and tabulating the 1950 Census;
Emphasizes the importance of, as well as the economies to be obtained from, the application of sampling in the various aspects of censuses;
Reaffirms the desirability of a wider participation by countries in the 1960 World Census of Agriculture than in the 1950 Census; and
Requests that the Director-General within the limits of funds available:
1. Arrange for discussions at regional meetings with a view to preparing regional census programs within the framework of the World Program;
2. Complete and publish his studies on the uses of sampling in agricultural censuses and on data processing methods for use in the 1960 Census Program;
3. Organize jointly with the United Nations Statistical Office regional training centers on censuses;
4. Organize special training centers on tabulation for the countries whose statistical services are less developed, in collaboration with the United Nations Statistical Office and the International Computation Center of UNESCO;
5. Explore the possibilities for central tabulation of census data by electronic equipment for those countries which desire such a service;
6. Mobilize available resources of both the Regular and the Expanded Technical Assistance Program, so as to ensure that essential assistance is provided to the countries in their forthcoming censuses.
Urges Member Governments:
1. To plan carefully all aspects of their forthcoming censuses, to co-operate fully in the FAO Program and to take every advantage of the assistance made available by FAO through training centers, experts, fellowships and census publications;
2. To inform FAO of the plans for and progress of their agricultural censuses, and of their questionnaires and instructions as soon as possible.
Requests the Director-General to submit to the Tenth Session of the Conference a full report of the steps taken and the work done by him to promote the 1960 World Census of Agriculture, and also a review of the progress made by governments in the planning and preparation of national agricultural censuses within the framework; of the FAO 1960 World and Regional Agricultural Census Programs.