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Approach to international cooperation in agricultural research

107. The Conference devoted considerable attention to approaches to cooperation in agricultural research between national institutions, both within developing regions and between developed and developing countries, international research centres, and international agencies - in particular FAO. It was suggested that in addition to giving increased support to research in the developing countries, the developed countries should turn a larger share of their research capacity to the problems of food production in the developing countries.

108. The Conference welcomed the additional support being given to agricultural research by the CGIAR, and the increasing representation of developing countries as donors to the Group's activities, and commended FAO's role in supporting and advising the CGIAR. While several member countries referred to benefits resulting from their-collaboration with IARCs, others felt that relations between those centres and the countries they served were still inadequate. It was therefore suggested that the CGIAR might establish scientific offices with adequate logistic support, representative of all centres relevant to the needs of an ecological or geographical region, to provide the two-way linkages needed. The centres might also be represented at FAO's Regional Conferences. Representatives of developing regions to the CGIAR were urged to participate more actively in its deliberations, and FAO should do all in its power to assist them.

109. The Conference agreed, however, that the work of the CGIAR did not eliminate FAO's role in relation to research; rather FAO was seen as providing a bridge between international and national research and transfer mechanisms. It stressed that support for international research institutions should be in no way to the detriment of national institutions, additional support for which was in any case essential to the successful outcome of the work of international centres. It felt, furthermore, that the latter should not attempt to be all-embracing; there should be a division of labour in helping developing countries, between international centres, international and bilateral assistance agencies, and developed country institutions, according to their comparative advantages. IARCs should, for example, utilize more widely the resources of advanced scientific institutions to reinforce their research capabilities. The proposed review of the future orientation of the work of the CGIAR, and the role of the lARCs in the overall agricultural research system was therefore welcomed, as were the provisions being made for evaluation of the programmes of the latter. FAO should be actively involved in this process of review and evaluation.

110. Some delegates stressed the need to look for means of tackling collaborative research on problems of interest to several countries and stated that it would perhaps be a less costly alternative to establishing further large international research centres. The suggestions included the establishment of regional centres of research and documentation, on an ecological zone basis, staffed and Jointly managed largely by the countries of the zone concerned, with limited participation from the international centres, agencies, and donors. Some delegates proposed that these centres should preferably be sited close to centres of higher education able to award post-graduate degrees, and could act as foci for training at all levels as well as providing regional AGRIS/CARIS coordinating unite.

111. It was suggested that the international centres should concentrate on "path-finding "research, which often required substantial resources or involved speculative risks; on training; and on the dissemination in a wider range of languages of information on research related to their fields of activity. Adaptation of their results and materials to local ecological and socio-economic conditions should be undertaken by national institutions, working with FAO, UNDP and bilateral agencies where necessary. FAO was urged to recruit high-quality scientific staff both in its Regular ant Field Programmes, with a provenance which reflected the needs of developing countries. To this end services should be contracted out more widely to national institutions, ant Regional Offices should be reinforced.

112. There wee wide support for the network approach described in document C 75/15, instances of which were cites in respect of several important fields of research in Africa, Europe and elsewhere. The Conference agrees that there were obvious opportunities for using national institutions both in a coordinating role ant as participants in such networks, ant notes with satisfaction the interest of ECA ant OECD members in fostering further networks which court involve developing countries on problems of common interest. There wee considerable support for the proposal to provide money under the Regular Programme to assist national institutions to cooperate in networks on agreed priorities, possibly under contract to FAO and/or IARCs, e.g. on "outreach", and subject to approval from the Programme and Finance Committees.

113. More generally, it was suggested that the resources allocated to research by FAO were still insufficient in relation to the role foreseen for the Organization, and that means should be found to increase them in the future.

114. The Conference adopted the following resolution:

Resolution 6/75



Noting that utilization of massive unused tropical hardwood resources for the production of pulp and paper could bring about great advantages in the economic, social and cultural fields of developing countries,

Noting further that only through integrated, international and interdisciplinary action ant research into the techniques of pulping and paper-making with tropical hardwoods can there be full utilization of unused species, qualities and sizes,

Invites the Director-General to study the possibility of creating an international hardwood pulp and paper research centre or programme to study the development of viable operational techniques of manufacturing pulp ant paper using tropical hardwoods, including needs and means of financing and the technical role which FAO and other international organizations would play in this.

(Adopted 26 November 1975)

C. Commodity and trade problems

Commodity market
Establishment of an international agricultural commodity agency

115. The Conference recognized that the acute and long-standing commodity and trade problems, which had been reflected mainly in the instability of commodity prices and export earnings and in limited growth of export earnings of developing countries, continued to present a mayor challenge to the international community. It agreed that solutions to these problems were urgently required, especially to meet the development needs of the developing countries. The majority of delegates further agrees that the decisions of the Sixth and Seventh Special Sessions of the UN General Assembly hat provided the overall framework within which these problems should be solved in a spirit of dialogue and cooperation, so as to ensure the speedy implementation of a New International Economic Order. Many delegates noted that they hat previously expresses reservations on certain elements of these decisions.

116. The Conference considered document C 75/17, Some Possible Lines of Approach Towards a Comprehensive Strategy for Agricultural Commodities, in which the Director-General had proposed that a comprehensive strategy should be developed, focusing on the moat acute commodity ant trade problems of the developing countries, with a view to enabling developing countries ant particularly the Moat Seriously Affected countries, to take fuller advantage of their production potential and of the new market opportunities which should be opened to them following current commodity discussions ant negotiations in UNCTAD, GATT ant other international fore. The Conference expresses agreement with the general objectives of this proposed strategy, namely:

  • (a) to promote international policy measures and arrangements which would provide long term stabilization and growth of commodity export earnings of developing countries;

    (b) to promote the transfer of financial resources to developing countries;

    (c) to ensure adequate levels of investment in the production, marketing and processing of agricultural commodities in developing countries;

    (d) to promote diversification of agricultural exports in developing countries;

    (e) to help to identify and mobilize the resources required for these purposes.

  • It further considered that these objectives were fully in line with the relevant recommendations of the Sixth and Seventh Special Sessions of the UN General Assembly.

    117. The Conference recalled that similar objectives, and especially those which related to the creation of more favourable trading opportunities for the developing countries, were also being pursued in other international fore, particularly in UNCTAD and in the multilateral trade negotiations of the GATT. Furthermore, the Conference considered that, in view of the close inter-relationships which existed between agricultural production, investment, trade and economic development, the contribution of the economic and technical expertise of FAO towards the successful development of those approaches could be vital.

    118. The Conference endorsed the conclusion of the CCP that the secretariat document provided a useful starting point for further elaboration and discussion. In this connexion, however, a number of delegates pointed out that the further evolution of the proposed approach, and the role to be played by FAO in the solution of commodity and related trade problems, would need to take into account the results of the Conference on International Economic Cooperation, (Paris, December 1975) and of the Fourth UN Conference on Trade and Development (Nairobi, May 1976).

    119. During the discussion, various delegates pointed to specific aspects of the document which in their opinion would need further elaboration and clarification. Some delegates indicated that there was considerable scope for extending the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) to a larger number of products, as well as for applying the concept and principles of the GSP to other policy measures - including non-tariff barriers - in order to increase export earnings of the developing countries. In the view of other delegates the GSP had brought considerable advantages to many developing countries. Many delegates stressed the need to improve access for the agricultural exports of developing countries to the markets of industrialized countries, including processed agricultural commodities, and considered that the proposals should give greater emphasis to these needs.

    120. Specific attention was drawn by several delegates from the meat exporting countries to the barriers erected in a number of developed countries against imports from efficient producing countries, and to the difficulties which this created to the growth of their economies.

    121. Concerning the views expressed in the document, that traditional forma of commodity agreements had in the past proved difficult to negotiate and operate, a number of delegates pointed out that recent signs of improvement in international cooperation, as had been exemplified at the Seventh Special Session of the UN General Assembly, could be expected to make such agreements more successful in solving commodity and trade problems in the future. Stress wee frequently placed on the fact that any global approaches in the field of agricultural trade must take into account the specific needs ant characteristics of individual products. Many delegates pointed out that commodity agreements had a useful role as a means for effecting real resource transfers to developing countries. Other delegates indicated, however, that the principal purpose of traditional commodity agreements had been to achieve greater stability in international markets, and that other measures would be required to effect significant resource transfers implicit in a new international economic order. In this connexion, a number of delegates emphasized the importance of the Lomé Convention, and the desirability of extending its principles to other commodities, and of widening the participation both of developing and developed countries.

    122. Some delegates considered that the document did not deal adequately with the role which could be played by producer associations for agricultural commodities in bringing about more equitable relations between producing and consuming countries.

    123. In considering the role of FAO in evolving an overall approach to the solution of commodity and trade problems, the Conference was-broadly in agreement with the suggestion in the Director-General's paper that the contribution of FAO should be in three main fields, namely:

  • (a) intergovernmental consultations with a view to testing new ideas in the CCP and its intergovernmental commodity groups, including possible action proposals to implement new policies;

    (b) international commodity analysis to provide a firm basis for the forward planning of supplies so as to promote international agricultural adjustment and better balance between production and consumption, which were necessary for the effective functioning of international commodity agreements; and

    (c) identification and mobilization of technical and economic assistance to interested developing countries in formulating and implementing their commodity production and trade policies and programmes, including export diversification programmes, and improved marketing structures and processing industries.

  • 124. The Conference endorsed the suggestion of CCP that Document C 75/17, amended if Judged necessary in the light of the conclusion of the Seventh Special Session of the UN General Assembly, the CCP and the Conference, should be submitted by the Director-General as a secretariat document to the UNCTAD Secretariat for consideration in the discussions preparatory to, and as the Director-General's contribution to, UNCTAD IV. The Conference also approved the suggestion of CCP that the Director-General draw up, taking into account the results of UNCTAD IV, a set of specific action proposals designed to help solve the problems of commodities of export interest to developing countries, which fell within the competence of FAO, for consideration at the Fifty-First CCP Session.

    Commodity market

    125. The Conference then adopted the following resolution:

    Resolution 7/75



    Recalling Resolution 3362 (S-VII) of the Seventh Special Session of the UN General Assembly which called for concerted efforts to be made in favour of the developing countries towards expanding and diversifying their trade,

    Recalling further that Resolution XIX of the World Food Conference urges Governments to make determined efforts to achieve substantial and concrete results,

    Considering that policies involving a high degree of protectionism in any form constitute an obstacle to the expansion of the overall agricultural trade, and to the growth of agricultural production in the developing countries, thus contributing to the critical economic situation which prevails in a number of such countries, and especially in the case of those heavily dependent upon beef exports,

    Considering the heavy reliance of many developing countries on exports of a few agricultural commodities,
    Bearing in mind the importance of cooperative action of the international community in order to promote better production and trade conditions for agricultural commodities and to insure the attainment of the development objectives of the developing countries,

      Calls the attention of all Governments, particularly those of the developed countries, to Resolution XIX of the World Food Conference and urges compliance with the provisions of that Resolution particularly Paragraphs 9 and 10 which are quoted below:

      "9. Calls upon Governments of developed countries, in the determination of attitudes towards farm support programmes for domestic food production, to take into account as far as possible the interests of the food-exporting developing countries, in order to avoid detrimental effects to their exports;

      10. Requests the developed countries to allow and facilitate to the extent possible the expansion of food and agricultural imposts from developing countries, in competition with domestic production, thus providing a fair and reasonable opportunity to increase their export earnings and to allow developing countries which export to these developed markets to plan their production and exports on a forward basis";

      Calls the attention of developed countries or groups of countries to the serious consequences of protectionist policies and practices for the economies of the developing countries, especially when such policies imply the closing of markets to imports from developing countries

      Requests the developed countries to adopt, to the greatest extent possible, attitudes towards farm support programmes for domestic food production and import policies conducive to the maintenance and expansion of production plans of food exporting developing countries;

      Recommends that developed countries take appropriate measures aiming at effective access to their markets for imports from developing countries including imports of beef and that negotiations to this effect be accelerated in GATT and other fora;

      Urges Governments also to speed up discussions on commodity arrangements, as appropriate, in line with Resolution 3362 (S-VII) of the Seventh Special Session of the UN General Assembly, in the interest of both exporting and importing countries;

      Calls on the appropriate bodies to reach decisions on the improvement of market structures as necessary in the field of agricultural commodities of export interest to developing countries

      Expresses the hope that closer international cooperation will promote the stabilization of markets for agricultural commodities as well as the expansion and the liberalization of trade and the increase in the export earnings of the developing countries

      Requests the Director-General, with a view to the achievement of world food security, to contribute, in cooperation when appropriate with other organizations of the United Nations system competent in the field, to the refinement of the concept of international agricultural adjustment in the light of the implementation of the endorsed guidelines, taking into account the distinctive features of individual raw materials and commodities, in such a manner as to contribute to the growth of the agricultural production and exports of the developing countries in accordance with the objectives of the Second UN Development Decade;

      Requests the Director-General to present to the Seventieth Session of the Council a report on actions taken in pursuance of the present resolution.

      (Adopted 26 November 1975)

      Establishment of an international agricultural commodity agency

      126. The Conference considered a Resolution on the "Establishment of an International Agricultural Commodity Agency" proposed by the Chairman of the Conference and sponsored by a large number of developing countries. The intention behind the studying of such an Agency, which would manage on a non-profit non-loss making basis the purchases and distribution of basic food products on a worldwide basis, was to reinforce and complement the decisions of the World Food Conference in the fields of food production and world food security, by helping to relieve food deficits in developing countries of part of the burden of their heavy and rapidly growing food imports on commercial terms.

      127. Many delegates stressed the importance they attached to the Chairman's proposal. They pointed out that notwithstanding the possibility of accelerating food production in developing countries and the benefits offered by food aid, very substantial food import requirements in food deficit developing countries were likely to pose increasingly serious financial problems to those countries in years to come. They were of the view that the principle underlying the proposal was unquestionable, that additional assistance in meeting food import requirements of some food deficit developing countries was necessary, that such assistance should take the form of procurement of supplies in the world market, whenever feasible in developing countries, and of their distribution on reasonable terms to the needy developing countries, and that FAO should be requested to elaborate the details of the proposal.

      128. Some delegates while appreciating the initiatives of the Chairman in launching such a far-reaching proposal, were unable to commit themselves to its endorsement at this stage. They stressed that the proposal was formulated in very general terms, and that it was not possible for them to Judge its central features and implications. Some of them were concerned that, if a proposal of this nature were implemented, it might have adverse repercussions on a number of on-going activities in the fields of food aid and investment in accelerated food production. They were also unclear as to how the proposed Agency might be funded, whether the intention wee that it should be self-financing or would require further infusion of additional capital, and what its relationship would be to the various existing institutions in related fields.

      129. The Conference adopted the following resolution:

      Resolution 8/75



      Reaffirming the recommendations of the World Food Conference of November 1974 on the importance of a global undertaking on world food security,

      Realizing the need for accelerated actions in maintaining a rational order in the international trade in food products, and for streamlining the supply of food items to the developing countries,

      Emphasizing the importance of a rational management and distribution of such food products,
      Noting the objectives and functions of FAO and this Conference,

      Recommends that the Director-General in consultation with Member Nations and appropriate bodies consider on a priority basis the proposal of the Chairman of this Conference for establishing an International Agricultural Commodity Agency in order to manage the purchase and distribution of necessary world food products, taking fully into account economic interests of developing exporting countries, and submit recommendations in this regard to the Sixty-Ninth Council Session.

      (Adopted 26 November 1975)

      D. Proposed strategy for international agricultural adjustment

      130. The Conference recalled that at the Seventeenth Session it had identified the objectives of international agricultural adjustment and had resolved that the Organization should evolve a proposed strategy of adjustment. The Director-General had been requested to prepare a draft of such a strategy. Document C 75/18 represented his response. It was accompanied by C 75/LIM/3, a case study of agricultural adjustment in Poland, and three other supporting research studies referred to in document C 75/18 would shortly be circulated to Governments.

      131. The Conference recognized that since greater harmonization of national actions and policies concerning food and agriculture required an appropriate policy framework, the present item was one of the moat important of its agenda. It wee understood that the major purpose of the strategy wee to provide member countries with a global framework which would facilitate their efforts to harmonise national policies and actions in the light of a consensus as to the desirable mayor changes in world agriculture. The nature of agricultural adjustment as a continuing and long-term process wee stressed.

      132. The Conference agreed that the Director-General's proposals constituted an appropriate and well prepared response to its request. The proposals took account of World Food Conference Resolution XIX which reaffirmed the importance of international agricultural adjustment and the need for governments to work together toward greater consistency in their national and regional policies bearing on future changes in food and agriculture. The Director-General had also taken into account the relevant provisions of UN General Assembly Resolution 3202 (S-VIII) on the Programme of Action on the Establishment of a New International Economic Order. The proposals were also fully in accord with relevant propositions of the subsequent UN General Assembly Resolution 3362 (S-VII). It was generally agreed that Conference approval of the Director-General's proposals would constitute an important step in FAO's contribution toward implementation of the Declaration and Programme of Action for Establishment of a New International Economic Order.

      133. The core of the Director-General's proposals was the expression in the form of eleven policy guidelines of the broad measure of consensus that had developed at the political level as to future changes to be sought in world agriculture. These guidelines related to production of food and other agricultural commodities, food consumption, international trade in agricultural commodities and requisites, and international assistance to developing countries as regards agriculture. These guidelines were in principle universal and applicable to both developing and developed countries, although several were primarily in the interest of developing countries. In total they represented a balanced statement of policy approaches.

      134. The Conference noted that draft guidelines drawn up by the Director-General had been considered in detail by two meetings of a panel of experts and in May 1975 by an ad hoc Working Party of Government representatives. The guidelines as revised by the ad hoc Working Party were reviewed at the Sixty-Sixth Council Session in June 1975. With minor editing, these guidelines were incorporated in document C 75/18 on which preliminary views were expressed at the Fiftieth Session in October 1975 and at the Sixty-Seventh Council Session in November 1975.

      135. The Conference agreed that the guidelines modified in the light of its discussions and contained in the resolution below constituted a realistic policy framework for international agricultural adjustment. It was understood that acceptance of the guidelines reflected an intention on the part of Member Governments to take them into account when considering and formulating policy at national and international levels. It was also understood that acceptance of the guidelines did not subordinate national food and agricultural policies to a global blueprint. The role of the guidelines was rather to serve as a global framework within which each country would develop its own agricultural policies according to its circumstances on a voluntary basis.

      136. Many delegates stressed the important role that policy guidelines played in international economic cooperation. It was essential that the guidelines should be unanimously endorsed if they were to be effective. It was also emphasized that the guidelines should be considered as tentative, subject to review and modification by subsequent FAO Conferences on the basis of experience and of changes in world food and agricultural situations. It was further noted that the guidelines should be interpreted in a constructive way and applied in a flexible manner. Suggestions were made for inclusion of additional policy guidelines relating to the linkage between agricultural adjustment and industrialization, including the development of agro-industries, and to the importance of international cooperation in the area of science and research. Some delegates expressed concern that the guidelines referring to socio-economic changes did not fully reflect World Food Conference Resolution II. Suggestions were also put forward as to the need to make more explicit in the guidelines the fact that international adjustment would necessarily require adjustment of the agricultural economies of developed countries.

      137. The Conference noted the follow-up proposed by the Director-General. This consisted of the preparation of an analytical assessment every two years of progress and problems of adjustment, in the light of the objectives ant the guidelines, for presentation to the Conference. The assessment would provide an "over-view" to facilitate discussion at Conference sessions of actions needed to ensure as full achievement as possible of the desired objectives of agricultural adjustment, including possible revisions to the guidelines that time and experience might suggest.

      138. The Conference agreed that the proposed follow-up was appropriate although it would be necessary to review the arrangements after experience had been gained with them. It would be advisable for the Director-General to base his monitoring of progress on a limited number of key indicators and to ensure that the report to the Conference wee succinct rather than lengthy. It should be limited to the most important aspects of the situation. As far as possible, FAO Regional Conferences should be -associated with the review and assessment of progress.

      139. The Conference emphasized that international agricultural adjustment should not be considered as a separate activity within FAO. It should rather be seen as a global framework for drawing together in a coherent fashion policy-oriented FAO activities, including, inter alia, those relating to food security, commodity programmes, nutrition and production requisites, and activities in relevant fore of the UN bodies.

      140. The Conference agreed that no additional body was needed to oversee the work on adjustment. The Director-General should draw to the greatest extent possible on the knowledge and views of existing FAO bodies in the preparation of his biennial assessment. For the time being, the CCP would be the leading body but the Committee on World Food Security should also be closely associated with the work on international agricultural adjustment. COAG should continue to be consulted on technical aspects of agricultural adjustment. The Director-General should also seek the cooperation of other international bodies, including the World Food Council, UNCTAD and the GATT. The Director-General's assessment should be considered by the Council before being forwarded to the Conference.

      141. The Conference adopted the following resolution:

      Resolution 9/75



      Re-emphasizing the fundamental role of food and other agricultural production, consumption of foodstuffs and trade in the achievement of the goals of the Second UN Development Decade and the need for a dynamic strategy of world agricultural development in the current and following decades,

      Recalling the Resolutions and the Declaration on the Eradication of Hunger and Malnutrition adopted by the World Food Conference in November 1974,

      Bearing in mind the relevant provisions of the Declaration and the Programme of Action on the Establishment of a New International Economic Order of the Sixth Special Session of the UN General Assembly in May 1974, and of the Charter of Economic Rights and Duties of States of the Twenty-Ninth Session of the UN General Assembly, and the food and agriculture and related provisions of the Resolution on Development and International Economic Cooperation of the Seventh Special Session of the UN General Assembly in September 1975,

      Reaffirming that the increasing interdependence of the economies of individual countries makes it essential to have a framework for promoting harmonization of national and regional policies bearing on production, trade and consumption of food and other agricultural commodities, and the increased allocation of resources and technology for the development of agriculture in developing countries,

      Recalling the objectives of international agricultural adjustment identified in Conference Resolution 2/73; namely:

      (a) a faster and more stable rate of growth in world agricultural production, especially in developing countries where demand is expanding most at rapidly, taking advantage of varying resource endowments of countries,

      (b) a better balance between world supply and demand of agricultural products with more orderly expansion of food production and consumption and greater security in the availability of food, in adequate quality and quantity to all consumer groups taking account of the need for a more rational use of world foot and agricultural resources, both input and output,

      (c) an orderly acceleration of trade in agricultural products, with greater stability in prices and markets,

      (d) a rising share for developing countries in a general expansion of agricultural trade,

      Taking note of the Director-General's proposed Strategy of International Agricultural Adjustment, including policy guidelines, arrangements for review and analysis of progress and other follow-up activities, submitted to the Eighteenth Session,

      1. Endorses the annexed guidelines for International Agricultural Adjustment as a global policy framework;

      2. Urges Member Governments to take into account these Guidelines in the formulation and implementation of relevant national policies and measures, while recognizing that each country has the right to formulate and implement its agricultural development policies in the light of its own specific circumstances;

      3. Invites the Executive Heads of other international and regional agencies to take into account these Guidelines in the planning and conduct of elements of their programmes that have bearing on agricultural adjustment;

      4. Requests the Director-General to undertake analysis of progress in achievement of the agreed objectives and policies of international agricultural adjustment and to prepare the first assessment of this progress for consideration by the Nineteenth Session of the Conference;

      5. Requests the Council to review the Director-General's assessment in the light of comments of the CCP prior to discussion by the Conference

      Annex to Resolution 9/75

      Guidelines for International Agricultural Adjustment

      Guideline 1. The increase in food production in developing countries during the next decade should rise at least at a rate of 4 percent per year so as to meet the growing demand for food and to improve the nutritional standards of the population in these countries.

      Guideline 2. The total flow of financial and other resources into agricultural production needs to be greatly increased, especially for expansion and diversification of production in developing countries,

      Guideline 3. National policies of developing countries should provide appropriate incentives for farmers to expand production and to promote the adaptation of structures within farming both to permit optimum use of available and suitable technology, and to promote social equity and fuller integration of the rural population into the national economy; national policies of developed countries should aim at the most rational use of their resources, having regard to the special needs and interests of developing countries and taking into account the need to ensure world food security.

      Guideline 4. Efforts should be made to implement integrated nutritional policies aiming at the improvement of food consumption patterns in all countries, for all socio-economic groups and to avoid wastage of food resources.

      Guideline 5. Special economic and social measures need to be implemented to improve nutritional levels for under-nourished segments of the population, especially for the poor and otherwise vulnerable groups.

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