13-17 November 1996 - Rome, Italy

April 1996 WFS/NERC/REP
Available in English only


Rabat, Morocco, 29 March 1996

The following text appears in the full report of the
FAO Regional Conference for the Near East.

World Food Summit

10. After an oral presentation of the conclusions of the Expert Consultation on the World Food Summit (see Appendix E), the Regional Conference examined documents NERC/96/3, "World Food Summit: Draft Policy Statement and Plan of Action", NERC/96/4 "World Food Summit: Food Security Situation and Issues in the Near East", and NERC/96/4-Sup.1, "Food for All Campaign". As a further input to the Conference's debate, an NGO spokesperson presented a summary report on the deliberations of the NGO Consultations on the WFS, held by FAO in Rabat on 25-26 March 1996, at the invitation of the Moroccan Society for Nutrition. The Conference noted that the full report of the NGO Consultation would also be transmitted to the Committee on World Food Security.

11. The Conference welcomed the decision to convene the World Food Summit in November 1996, underlined the timeliness of this initiative and reiterated the full support of Member Governments to its success.

12. With respect to document NERC/96/3, the Conference agreed that it was an appropriate basis for the finalization by the CFS of the draft Policy Statement and Plan of Action to be submitted to the WFS. Some delegations announced their intention to prepare, in addition to their oral observations reflected hereafter, written comments which would be communicated later as inputs for the CFS work. At the suggestion of some delegations, it was decided that the Tunis Declaration on Food Security in the Arab World will be transmitted by the Secretariat to the CFS for consideration. It was proposed that an International Decade for Food for All be launched on the occasion of the Summit.

13. Several delegations recommended that the political nature of the Policy Statement be strengthened, in particular paragraphs 3 to 11; that the Plan of Action should be more concise, integrate the regional and sub-regional dimensions, and indicate clearly, with a consistent terminology, the responsibilities for implementation, including those of FAO, as was done in paragraphs 72-74 of document NERC/96/4.

14. As regard the substance of the Plan of Action, the Conference agreed on the following recommendations:

15. With regard to document NERC/96/4, the Regional Conference considered that it provided a sufficiently comprehensive and appropriate analysis of the essential aspects of the food security situation and issues in the Region. It considered Section III (attached) of the document as a preliminary and indicative contribution to the regional dimension of the WFS Plan of Action. The need was stressed to use an acceptable and precise wording on transboundary water issues.

16. Delegations underlined the particular importance of the following aspects of food security in the Near East:

Country Statements and General Debate

17. In their statements, the delegates commended the FAO Director-General's policies and unanimously welcomed his initiative for convening the World Food Summit in Rome in November 1996. Other issues of common concern to member countries included water scarcity and management, increased desertification, transboundary pest and diseases, degradation of natural resources and the deterioration of the environment, the role of women and youth in rural development, the problem of foreign debt, and the adjustment to international changes in the trade environment with emphasis on the Uruguay Round Agreement.





presented to the Twenty-third FAO Regional
Conference for the Near East


Draft contribution of the Near East Regional Conference
to the Plan of Action of the World Food Summit

42. The overall goal for the region would be to reduce the level of undernutrition by a significant margin. FAO considers feasible a reduction in the rates of the undernourished from 16 percent of the total population in 1990-92 to 11 percent by the year 2010. This level of achievement would still leave several countries with high proportions of their populations undernourished (40 or 50 percent in countries like Afghanistan, Somalia and Sudan), and special efforts would be needed in these countries in order to achieve sharper reductions in the numbers of their undernourished people. This would require a further increase in the annual growth rate of food production in the region as a whole (3.1 percent at a minimum, instead of 2.9 percent), but a strong and difficult acceleration in the countries with the highest levels of undernutrition.

43. It is estimated that the total gross investment for primary agricultural production would have to reach about US$18 billion (1993 United States dollars) annually, of which some 30 percent would be concentrated in the countries with otherwise average food availability below 2 700 calories by the year 2010. To this US$5.0 billion gross of post-production investments should be added, and a further US$6.2 billion would be needed for supporting rural infrastructure and services, which is roughly equivalent to present levels.

44. Within the framework of the draft Global Plan of Action of the World Food Summit, the priority, regionally-specific actions to achieve such a significant improvement of food security in the Near East and North Africa are as follows:

1. Enhancing domestic food supply capacity

Basis for action

45. There is considerable scope for improving overall productivity, reducing annual and inter-country production variabilities as well as for diversification in crop production. In particular, 14 countries in the region are LIFDCs, for which increasing domestic food production is essential for enhanced national or regional food security.


46. i) expand and diversify food production, especially in the areas with high potential, at least to achieve a 68 percent production increase for the main food crops by 2010 for the region as a whole, and at least by 75 percent for the countries with higher rates of undernutrition (Afghanistan, Mauritania, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen);

ii) strengthen the sustainable management and use of the natural resources, so as to be able to expand areas for crop production by a further seven million hectares (net increase of 7 percent) by 2010; and

iv) enhance the effective, self-reliant participation of farmers and producers in the agricultural and rural development process.

Actions to be taken

at the national level

47. i) secure adequate infrastructural and service support to increase the productivity and output of food crops, especially in the short term, in the high potential areas with irrigation and adequate rainfall;

ii) in all the LIFDCs in the region, but with priority for those with food availability below 2 700 calories per caput/day, launch by the year 2000 programmes targeted at the substantial reduction of the undernourished, including expansion of cereal production by at least 75 percent by 2010;

iii) intensify and diversify food and agricultural production, including cash and fodder crops, livestock and fish culture; the yields of the main cereal crops should increase by at least 44 percent, to over 2.3 tons/ha by 2010. In the countries with food availabilities below 2 700 calories/day, cereal yields should increase to at least 1.8 tons /ha, up from current levels of about 1.3 tons/ha;

iv) expand the reliable availability, to farmers and producers, of an improved quality of production inputs, including irrigation (with an expansion of the irrigated area of at least 10 percent overall, and of 90 percent in countries below 2 700 calories daily intake, by 2010), seeds, plant nutrients (at least doubling chemical fertilizer use by 2010), and post-harvest processing and storage;

v) enhance support services for extension and rural communication, credit and marketing, as well as prevention and control of plant pests and animal diseases;

vi) enhance land tenure arrangements and participatory organizations for farmers, not only for higher productivity but also for more self-reliant management of natural resources for sustainable use;

vii) strengthen national capacity in agricultural research, extension and technology dissemination, especially to support farmers in sustainable technologies for intensification and diversification of production;

viii) promote self-reliant participation by all segments of farmers and producers, both at the national and local levels, with particular attention to poor farmers, and especially women producers;

ix) expand fish production, especially to meet the expected 70 percent increase in demand by 2010 among countries in the North Africa sub-region, by promoting aquaculture and by the better utilization of small pelagic fish for food;

x) protect, conserve and manage natural resources (soil, water, plant and animal resources), especially through integrated pest management and plant nutrition, by

integrating forestry into land management, managing and protecting aquatic environments and fisheries resources. Similarly, monitor and assess the environmental effects of agricultural activities; and

xi) strengthen national capacity for developing and executing policies, plans, programmes and projects with a view to realizing sustainable and participatory agricultural and rural development.

at sub-regional and regional levels

48. i) expand and intensify cooperation, in collaboration with the International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), in exchanging appropriate technologies and approaches to food production and agricultural rural development, especially in irrigation, crop production technologies and integration of crop production and livestock;

ii) collaborate effectively in establishing and operating joint programmes addressed to transboundary plant pests and animal diseases, such as desert locusts and rinderpest; and

iii) cooperate in the joint management of shared resources, especially by proactive participation in the International Code of Conduct on Responsible Fisheries.

2. Managing water resources

Basis for action

49. The region's land resources are predominantly characterized by arid or semi-arid conditions, which makes water a critical factor. Low and erratic rainfall severely limits food crop production and causes wide year-to-year variations in agricultural output. The presence of potentially competing claims to limited common water resources makes a regional approach to water development an imperative for many countries of the region.


50. To ensure sustainable and cost-effective use of water resources between various sectors, including an at least 20 percent improvement in the efficient application of water for irrigation and other agricultural purposes by 2010; and to facilitate harmonious management of the shared water resources for sustainable use by the riparian countries and peoples.

Actions to be taken

at national level

51. i) review and reform national water policy and formulate comprehensive strategies for the sustainable use and management of the water resources for various purposes, including the monitoring of water quality and cost-efficiency;

ii) increase the efficiency of water use in agriculture, especially to improve irrigation efficiency through appropriate irrigation technologies, effective water management by farmers, proper usufruct rights and appropriate systems of fees and charges reflecting the true cost of water;

iii) selectively expand irrigation by at least 90 percent by the year 2010 in the countries having a high incidence of undernutrition, and develop low-cost irrigation methods and production techniques with the active participation of farmers;

iv) monitor and survey waterlogged and salinized lands, and reclaim at least 50 percent of these lands;

v) explore the feasibility of, and implement, re-use and ensure the safe disposal of 60-70 percent of municipal and drainage effluent for agricultural production, ground water recharge and desertification control; and promote forestry as part of the strategy for water conservation and land use.

at regional and sub-regional levels

52. i) expand and strengthen inter-country cooperation for the exchange of technologies and methods for more efficient use of water for food and agricultural production;

ii) promote inter-country negotiation and cooperation in the management of water resources to prevent conflict and uncontrolled ecological damage; and

iii) review and enhance the effectiveness of international river basin agreements and mechanisms.

3. Meeting food import requirements

Basis for action

53. The region depends heavily on commercial imports, and several countries on food aid, to meet rapidly expanding food needs.


54. To enhance the capacity of financing food import needs; to balance food import dependence on the one hand, and domestic conditions, cost-efficiency and environmental considerations on the other, including the need to minimize problems linked to supply and price instability through market stabilization mechanisms and market information and early warning systems.

Actions to be taken

at the national level

55. i) in order to enhance food import capacity, pursue diversified economic growth;

ii) liberalize trade in line with the provisions of the Uruguay Round agreement.

at sub-regional and regional levels

56. i) develop cost-efficient stabilization mechanisms at national and regional levels, including national food stocks; promote early warning and market information systems;

ii) pursue, at the international level, the implementation of the Uruguay Round Decision on Measures Concerning the Possible Negative Effects of the Reform Programme on Least-Developed and Net Food-Importing Countries; and

iii) ensure adequate supplies of food aid to food-deficit countries that would otherwise encounter major difficulties in financing the food imports they need.

4. Pursuing and deepening market liberalization and private sector involvement

Basis for action

57. Although market-oriented reforms are being pursued in many countries in the region, the process of market liberalization, overall and in agriculture, has been uneven. The reduction or elimination of previously high levels of input and food price subsidization has encountered considerable political and social obstacles, as significant segments of population suffered from the immediate consequences of such measures.


58. i) provide an economic environment conducive to sustained and equitable growth, by stabilising the economies and eliminating costly and distortive interventions and regulations affecting production, marketing and trade; and

ii) ensure an adequate presence of the State in the supply of public goods, infrastructures and social services and in the regulation of competition.

Actions to be taken

59. i) pursue and intensify market-oriented reforms that address stabilization and growth objectives while also incorporating social and environmental concerns;

ii) create the conditions for a better supply response to price incentives, through improvements in agricultural infrastructure, training and education and technical support and services to agricultural production;

iii) create an environment conducive to private enterprise development and competitive growth; and

iv) promote private sector investment and broad-based participation in overall and agricultural development.

5. Enhancing agricultural production and productivity in highlands

and arid and semi-arid areas

Basis for action

60. Some 70 percent of the areas of the region are arid or semi-arid where low and erratic rainfall severely restrict food crop production and cause production instability. The inhabitants in these areas represent a significant part of the rural poor and are particularly vulnerable to food insecurity. At the same time, the relatively adverse and fragile agro-ecological conditions demand that food and agricultural development in these areas must be built on sustainable management of the natural resources. These are the challenges confronting most countries in the region, and especially the 14 LIFDCs.


61. To improve the food security of the populations in highlands and arid and semi-arid areas through enhanced, more stable, diversified and sustainable crop and livestock production as well as through development of the off-farm economy.

Actions to be taken

at national level

62. i) develop and introduce farming systems and technologies adapted to more stable, sustainable production in highlands and low rainfall areas, including the use of more drought and disease resistant varieties of food crops;

ii) promote and introduce more sustainable and effective management systems for extensive grazing land, including production of higher-quality fodders within the traditional farming systems;

iii) integrate practical management practices for the protection and conservation of land and water resources, including integration of forestry and trees against desertification;

iv) improve the system for early warning on food shortages and strengthen measures to prevent and control pests and diseases;

v) strengthen agricultural research to provide appropriate technologies for the production systems in these areas, especially to enhance production stability under low-input systems and to enhance sustainable management of land and water;

vi) expand and intensify services for extension and the provision of improved seeds and other inputs;

vii) promote and implement agricultural and rural development schemes targeted at increasing on-farm and off-farm employment, infrastructure for improved services and marketing, as well as at addressing property rights, land use arrangements and participation of poor farmers;

viii) monitor and review the environmental effects of agricultural and rural development, and incorporate lessons in developing strategies and programmes in these areas.

at sub-regional and regional levels

63. i) exchange and transfer improved technologies and lessons on common problems in enhancing food and agricultural production in the highlands and low rainfall areas; and

ii) cooperate in preventing and controlling outbreaks of transboundary pests and diseases, as well as early warning on food shortages.

6. Addressing population and urbanization issues

Basis for action

64. Population growth rates in the region are among the highest in the world, implying that only modest gains in per caput food production have materialized over the last two decades. This has been accompanied by rapid rates of urbanization. Even in those countries of the region where aggregate dietary energy supplies are currently adequate, there are sizeable population groups facing food insecurity problems. Considerable scope exists for enhancing broad social participation, particularly for women, in activities relating to food security.


65. i) maintain population and urbanization growth at rates compatible with the objectives of food security for all;

ii) ensure adequate living conditions and food supplies in urban areas;

iii) ensure access by all groups - including the poorest and most vulnerable - to food necessary for a healthy life; and

iv) create an environment that will enable people to achieve social development in conformity with the principles adopted by the World Summit for Social Development.

Actions to be taken

at the national level

66. i) actively pursue the strategies defined at the Cairo Population and Beijing Conference on Women, as applicable to the country;

ii) provide urban infrastructures and services to ensure that adequate, stable and reasonably priced flows of food reach urban areas;

iii) devise and implement policies to foster employment and access to productive resources by the urban poor, including food-for-work programmes;

iv) provide nutritional assistance and education to the poor segments of the population and those at nutritional risk; and

v) ensure an adequate involvement and empowerment of women in decisional and operational activities related to food supply and distribution.

7. Promoting regional integration

Basis for action

67. The region is rich in human capital, physical capital and agricultural resources, but these assets are unevenly distributed. Such disparity of resource endowment offers wide areas of resource complementarity and commonality of interests among countries in the region. Nevertheless, progress in implementing regional integration and cooperation schemes has been generally slow and uneven.


68. To exploit the potential for enhanced welfare and food security arising from the complementarity of resources amongst countries in the region by liberalizing and intensifying intra-regional trade, in particular of food products, as well as capital and labour flows.

Actions to be taken

69. i) pursue regional cooperation and integration efforts aimed at enhanced food security, in particular for intra-regional trade in food products and mobility of factors of production;

ii) ensure that regional financial and technical institutions earmark adequate resources for programmes aimed at the improvement of regional food security;

iii) strengthen regional research activity on food production technologies and systems adapted to the conditions of the region; and

iv) foster exchange in technology, know-how and human skills development within the region and in a transmediterranean context.

8. Responsibilities for implementing priority actions

70. The national governments have the primary responsibility for creating the conditions required for food security in their countries, through the implementation of the priority actions outlined above. In addition, they have shared responsibilities with other countries within and outside the region, international and non-governmental organizations and civil society at large, in the pursuance of food security goals.

at the regional and sub-regional level

The governments of the region should:

71. i) promote cooperation among themselves in the exchange and transfer of appropriate technology and approaches, including the establishment of technical cooperation networks among their institutions and exports;

ii) strengthen the cooperation in identification and dissemination of appropriate methods and techniques for cost-effective use of water for agriculture;

iii) share appropriate technologies and approaches for sustainable food production and rural development in highlands and arid and semi-arid areas;

iv) jointly manage shared water resources in the river basins and honour the international agreements they enter for this purpose;

v) extend the scope of national information and early warning systems into a regional network that provides crop and market outlook information;

vi) reinforce regional cooperation mechanisms for food security; and

vii) regional financial, technical assistance and research institutions have responsibility for focusing their activities in favour of regional food security. In particular, regional banks and funds, together with international lending agencies should provide adequate financial support to food-deficit countries in the region that face serious difficulties in financing the food they need.

at the international level

The international organizations and the donor community should:

72. i) promote and support the national governments and institutions in the planning, execution and reviewing of programmes and projects for food production and agricultural and rural development through technical cooperation and investment;

ii) support, through technical cooperation and investments, national programmes for water resource management as well as inter-country cooperation in water management at the sub-regional and regional level;

iii) support national governments in designing and implementing policies and programmes to control population growth and urbanization, to enhance food access of poor and vulnerable groups and to provide them with nutritional assistance and education;

iv) contribute where needed, funds for investment particularly in urban infrastructure necessary for food supplies;

v) assist in regional cooperation and integration mechanisms, in particular by facilitating the exchange of expertise and know-how;

vi) promote and support national and regional efforts for enhancing food security in highlands and semi-arid areas. Institutions such as CGIAR will play an important role in fulfilling this need; and

vii) the members of the World Trade Organization should ensure, within the institutional and regulatory framework provided by that body, the implementation, as applicable to the region, of the Uruguay Round Decision on Measures Concerning the Possible Negative Effects of the Reform Programme on Least-Developed and Net Food-Importing Countries.

The international lending agencies in particular should:

73. i) provide adequate financial support to food-deficit countries in the region that face serious difficulties in financing their food needs;

ii) assist national governments to pursue and intensify macroeconomic and sectoral economic reforms that pursue stabilization and structural adjustment along with social objectives.

FAO will play a leading and catalytic role in:

74. i) providing technical advice and technical cooperation support for expanded food production. It will mobilize its extensive network of cooperation with other international organizations and financial institutions in support of improved food security of the countries in the region;

ii) providing appropriate technical support in the development of policies, strategies and programmes for the agricultural use of water and the related institutional capacity building as well as in the promotion of appropriate technologies in irrigation and technologies for reclaiming water-logged and salinized lands;

iii) assisting, along with other international organizations, in the pursuance of economic reform objectives by providing technical assistance in areas such as: formulation and implementation of policies, strategies and projects for agricultural and rural development in the context of overall reform programmes; building of institutional capacity for policy formulation and implementation; evaluation of the effects of reform programmes on the agricultural sector and the rural poor; financial evaluation of needs involved in reform-related activities;

iv) providing technical advice and cooperation in enhancing sustainable agricultural production and productivity in highlands as well as arid and semi-arid areas by mobilizing programmes covering the broad range of issues involved; and

v) providing and channelling technical assistance in the fields of nutritional assessment as well as in services for marketing and supply of food products.

Expected role of civil society

75. The private sector is expected to play an increasingly important role in taking over functions no longer assumed by the State, in particular activities relating to investment, agricultural production, marketing and trade as well as the provision of inputs. The new emphasis on broad-based development implies added responsibilities on the part of previously marginalized segments of society, in particular women, smallholders and the poor.

76. The private sector, non-governmental organizations and interest groups have important roles to play in:

i) technology transfer, investment and skills development through commercial activities;

ii) promotion of, and compliance with, major international agreements such as the International Plant Protection Convention;

iii) sustainable water resources management; in particular the private sector plays a key role in investing in irrigation development;

iv) providing farmers with inputs, services and marketing;

v) undertaking private investment and commercial activities for ensuring adequate and stable food supplies to urban areas;

vi) promoting and supporting programmes catering for the development of arid and semi-arid areas. In particular, non-governmental organizations have many advantages in working with the local populations for their participatory development for food security;

77. Society at large, including community institutions and local government and non-governmental organizations, has a responsibility for ensuring the involvement and empowerment of women in decisional and operational activities of importance for food security.


Rabat, Morocco, 26-30 March 1996


1. In deciding to convene a World Food Summit at the level of Heads of State or Government in Rome from 13 to 17 November 1996, the FAO Conference in its Resolution 2/95, adopted on 31 October 1995, reaffirmed the “inalienable right to be free from hunger and malnutrition” as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration on the Eradication of Hunger and Malnutrition adopted by the World Food Conference in 1974. It also reaffirmed the need to achieve food security for all, as included in the Fiftieth Anniversary Declaration on Food and Agriculture. The Conference took into cognizance the fact that hunger and malnutrition could constitute a threat to the security of nations, regions and the global community. It also recognized that activities to ensure food security at all levels, in particular at the household level, should be carried out within the framework of sustainable development as defined in Agenda 21.

2. In deciding on the objectives of the Summit, the Conference stated inter alia that the World Food Summit would raise global awareness of the food security problem and promote the search for solutions, and would establish a policy framework and adopt a Plan of Action for implementation by governments, international institutions and all sectors of civil society to achieve sustained progress towards universal food security.

3. The Conference recognized the role of non-governmental organizations, the private sector, academic and research institutions, the media and other groups in international conferences and initiatives. In this connection, while inviting countries to participate actively in the preparations and follow-up activities, the Conference encouraged the participation of these sectors of society in the preparatory process, in the Summit itself as appropriate, and in follow-up actions.

4. In order to make the Summit and its outcome a success and to ensure that Food for All is an achievable campaign, it is essential that follow-up actions to the Summit are carried out in a concerted and coordinated manner at the country level with the participation not only of the government, but also of non-governmental organizations, the private sector, academic and research institutions, women, youth groups and civil society in general. Such participation by different segments of society could be promoted through a mechanism set up at the country level which would act as a mobilizing body in pursuing the goal of achieving food for all at national and international levels. This mechanism would function as a driving force of a “Food for All Campaign”, which could be launched by the World Food Summit in order to sustain the momentum generated by it, support its work and ensure success of the follow-up activities.

5. The “Food for All Campaign” could strive to create a movement of informed public opinion about the key issues concerning food security and their solution; promote development and implementation of solutions to the food production and security constraints; and facilitate dialogue and collaboration among governments, the private sector, non-governmental organizations and the civil society at large. The Campaign could play a key role in facilitating the implementation of the follow-up actions to the World Food Summit. This national mechanism, which would be an important vehicle for the Food for All Campaign, could be led by the non-governmental sector in order to bring in flexibility and innovation, as well as to supplement the governmental FAO national committees with which it will have to develop strong links.

6. The Regional Conferences could consider recommending that the “Food for All Campaign” be launched by the World Food Summit itself with an indication of the mandate and objectives. The structure to sustain it would have to be adapted to the specific situation of each country.