Food agencies in Rome agree to increase collaboration

Agreements aimed at strengthening collaboration between the three Rome-based UN food agencies - FAO, the World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) - were signed this week in support of world food security.

FAO and WFP have signed an agreement to expand their existing cooperative activities related to the Special Programme for Food Security. Launched by FAO in 1994, the SPFS helps low-income food-deficit countries boost food production in order to cut costs and increase access to food in poor communities in both rural and urban areas.

An agreement signed by FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf and the President of IFAD, Mr Fawzi Al-Sultan, also underlined the need to boost food production and increase access to food in low-income food-deficit countries in the context of the SPFS. The two agencies agreed to cooperate more closely in the field and to use existing joint operations as a basis for developing further collaborative activities.

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24 March 1999

Freshwater fisheries under threat in most regions of the world

Freshwater fish production is being threatened by environmental degradation in most regions of the world, FAO has warned: "Industrialization, urbanization, deforestation, mining and agricultural land and water use often cause degradation of aquatic environments, which is the greatest threat to inland fish production." Environmental degradation affecting freshwater areas is reported to be increasing in Africa, Asia-Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe, the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Baltic States.

In 1997, reported freshwater fish yields accounted for approximately 6 percent of the total global fish production of 122 million tonnes. Yet, despite its importance as a major source of food and protein, particularly in poor countries, freshwater fish production is often underreported, and many policy makers are unaware of its importance for food supplies and income generation. As a result, most inland fish producers suffer from the lack or inadequacy of rights and institutional support. According to FAO, inland fisheries should be better integrated into water and land management. The Organization also recommends actions that can be taken at community, farm and state and national levels.

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Go to Fisheries Department

24 March 1999

Network to promote rabbit breeding in Mediterranean countries has first meeting

A network established to promote rabbit breeding in Mediterranean countries will have its inaugural meeting at FAO headquarters on 18 and 19 March. The "International Observatory on Rabbit Breeding in Mediterranean countries" has been set up to promote rabbit breeding for food security, income-generation purposes, diversification of livestock and better use of feed resources.

The network has been established with the assistance of FAO, as well as the support of specialized organizations including the Italian rabbit-breeding society ANCI (Associazione Nazionale Coniglicoltori Italiani) and the Italian Ministry for Rural Politics. Some 14 Mediterranean countries will be represented at the meeting, half of which are from the Arab world, including Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco and Tunisia.

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More on the meeting

17 March 1999  

Latest EMPRES Transboundary Animal Disease Bulletin now out

FAO's Emergency Prevention System for Transboundary Animal and Plant Pests and Diseases (EMPRES) have published the eighth number of their Transboundary Animal Disease Bulletin. The bulletin can be read on the EMPRES web site or downloaded in pdf.

The latest bulletin includes news items on:

  • Tropical New World Screwworm in the United Kingdom
  • African Swine Fever (ASF) in West Africa
  • A workshop on genetic resistance to ASF
  • Foot-and-Mouth Disease in Malawi

as well as many other topical issues in this field. EMPRES also run an electronic discussion group that aims to facilitate interaction and improved communication among subscribers involved in transboundary animal diseases and emergency prevention systems.

EMPRES homepage

16 March 1999


Ministerial Meeting endorses action plans to reduce overfishing and overcapacity

The Ministerial Meeting on the Implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries closed 11 March with the endorsement of new voluntary International Plans for the Management of Fishing Capacity, for the Conservation and Management of Sharks and for Reducing Incidental Catch of Seabirds in Long-line Fisheries, recently adopted by the FAO Committee on Fisheries.

Ministers and Senior Representatives from some 120 countries attending the two-day meeting at FAO headquarters expressed their concern about "overfishing of the world's major marine fishery resources, destructive and wasteful fishing practices and excess capacity." The countries also declared that they would develop a "global plan of action to deal effectively with all forms of illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing including fishing vessels flying 'flags of convenience'".

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Ministerial Meeting on the Implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries

12 March 1999

"Deteriorating" food situation reported in Somalia

Adverse weather and civil strife are the cause of serious food shortages in some countries in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the latest Foodcrops and Shortages report, the first of 1999. "Serious concern mounts over deteriorating food situation in Somalia", according to the report. A sixth poor "Deyr" crop in succession and renewed fighting in many areas of the country have combined to increase the number of people in search of food and water. Other countries in the region reported to be suffering food difficulties are Tanzania, Kenya, Liberia and Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo, as well as Guinea Bissau. Good prospects for crops are expected in most of the southern part of the continent.

Elsewhere, food shortfalls are reported in much of Central America and the Caribbean, still suffering from the effects of hurricanes Mitch and Georges. In Asia, food security in Afghanistan and Korea DPR remains fragile, and malnutrition continues to be a problem in Iraq, despite some improvement in the overall food situation following the implementation of the oil-for-food deal. A recovery in rice production is expected in Indonesia, where a combination of El Niño drought and the financial crisis last year seriously compromised food security.

Go to Foodcrops and Shortages No. 1, February 1999

12 March 1999

Mission to Lao People's Democratic Republic finds monsoon rice harvest above average

An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission to Lao People's Democratic Republic has found that rice harvests in 1998/99 have been healthy so far, despite reports of an unfavourable food outlook. Although localized drought was reported during and after transplanting, the 1998 monsoon rice crop is 7 percent above average. Total paddy output for 1998/99 is estimated at some 1.8 million tonnes, 22 percent above the average for the past five years and one percent up from last year. The Special Report issued by the Mission on 4 March says that, "on current production estimates, rice import requirements in 1999 will be minimal, estimated at around 3 000 tonnes, all to be met commercially". However, the report warns that many rural households have insufficient access to food, despite increased national production. "This situation is exacerbated by relatively high world commodity prices, a rapidly depreciating currency and a sizeable fiscal deficit."

Go to the Special Report

11 March 1999

Ministers meet to discuss forestry, fisheries and agriculture in small island developing states

FAO hosts three ministerial meetings in the week 8 to 12 March. Forestry, the implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and Agriculture in Small Island Developing States are the topics for discussion.

The Ministerial Meeting on Sustainability Issues in Forestry, the National and International Challenges, convened 8 and 9 March, provides a forum for global decision on strategic and policy issues related to forestry. Some of the items under discussion include: the need for international instruments to support sustainable forest develoment; global action to address forest fires; and the proposed FAO Strategic Framework for the years 2000 to 2015.

Ministerial Meeting on Sustainability Issues in Forestry, the National and International Challenges

The Ministerial Meeting on the Implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries is scheduled for 10 and 11 March. Topics under consideration include management of fishing capacity as well as the potential role of eco-labelling of fish and fishery production in support of responsible fisheries.

Ministerial Meeting on the Implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries

Sustainable production, intensification and diversification of agriculture, forestry and fisheries in small island developing states (SIDS) is the focus of the special meeting slated for 12 March. The international conference aims to develop a mission-specific plan of action consisting of programmes and projects for the sustainable agricultural development of SIDS, recognizing the specific constraints facing these small island nations.

Special Ministerial Conference on Agriculture in Small Island Developing States

9 March 1999

Desert Locust Bulletin 245 released

The latest bulletin reports a generally calm desert locust situation in February despite two small outbreaks in northeastern Sudan and southeastern Libya. Continuing control operations were credited with containing these unrelated incidents. According to the bulletin, "The Libyan outbreak does not threaten neighbouring countries or regions."

Elsewhere, unusually dry conditions have prevented any significant developments in breeding areas along the Red Sea coasts. However, good rains have started to fall in the spring breeding areas of western Pakistan where low numbers of adults are present and may start to breed.

Desert Locust Bulletin 245 reports on the general locust situation during February 1999 and provides a forecast until mid-April 1999.

Go to the Latest Desert Locust Situation and Forecast

9 March 1999

Risk of Rift Valley Fever back down in the Horn of Africa

The World Health Organization (WHO) and FAO have made a joint statement saying that the risk of infection by the Rift Valley fever virus is back down to minimal or negligible levels in countries in the Horn of Africa, after a devastating epidemic that lasted from October 1997 to March 1998. The countries concerned are Tanzania, Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia. The improved situation is the result of favorable climatic conditions and the immunity developed by a large proportion of the livestock during the recent epidemic. The joint statement said of livestock exports from the countries in the Horn of Africa, "the present extremely low risk of Rift Valley fever infection in livestock is comparable to the risk in former years that permitted the safe export of livestock."

FAO/WHO joint statement
FAO supports budding small livestock and meat export industry in Tanzania
Pastoralists in eastern Africa hard hit by Rift Valley fever and other diseases

9 March 1999

Special Alert for Angola - intensified fighting drives farmers from their fields

Since the last GIEWS Special Alert for Angola in December 1998, the food outlook in the southwest African country has become "increasingly bleak", according to an Alert issued on 18 February. Intensified fighting since the end of the year, particularly in the central highlands and the northern provinces has forced more and more people to flee their homes and fields, aggravating what the Alert calls "an already precarious food situation in several parts of the country". Food prices have risen sharply in many areas and difficulties in distributing relief assistance are leading to growing levels of malnutrition. Because of the fighting, "the 1999 crop is expected to be sharply below the output in recent years", according to the Alert, which closes stressing the "urgent need for the international community to do everything possible to ensure that adequate humanitarian assistance is provided to the affected Angolan population".

Go to the full Special Alert

9 March 1999

Mission to Cambodia finds rice harvests better than expected

An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission to Cambodia has found that fears of reduced rice harvests have proved largely unfounded. According to the Special Report, posted 17 February 1999, despite drought and scattered pest infestations, the wet (main) season paddy production for 1998/99 is estimated at 2.88 million tonnes, 8 percent up from last year. Taking into account the drop of about 14 percent in the dry season paddy harvest, total rice production for 1998/99 is estimated at 3.52 million tonnes - 3 percent up from last year. The Mission forecasts a small surplus of nearly 30 000 tonnes of rice, but warns that despite this, "vulnerable segments of the population will face varying degrees of food shortage in 1999" and urges the Government to "be cautious with regard to decisions on rice export in 1999."

Go to the full Special Report

3 March 1999 

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