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 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.
24 March 1999
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.
17 March 1999
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:
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.
16 March 1999
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.
9 March 1999
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."
9 March 1999
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".
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9 March 1999
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."
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3 March 1999