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VI. Technical assistance to underdeveloped areas

A. Expanded program of technical assistance for economic development
B. Priority of technical assistance projects
C. Methods of making technical assistance available
D. Preliminary preparation for the expanded program

The Conference has considered the documentation submitted on this subject.

A. Expanded program of technical assistance for economic development

The Conference

Believing that an expanded Program of Technical Assistance to underdeveloped countries offers a sound means of improving the economic condition of such countries, thereby furthering the improvement of general world conditions and enhancing the Organization's entire program;

- Resolves

(a) that the Organization shall participate fully in the expanded Program of Technical Assistance for economic development as set forth in the Economic and Social Council's Resolution No. 222(IX)A of 15 August 1949, and approved in the General Assembly's Resolution of 16 November 1949;

(b) that the Organization shall accept the observations and guiding principles set out in Annex I to the Economic and Social Council's resolution and the arrangements made by the Economic and Social Council for the administration of the program; and

(c) that a Special Fund shall be created pursuant to Financial Regulation XII for the monies and other resources received from the Special Account for Technical Assistance to be established by the Secretary-General of the United Nations;

- Requests the Director-General

(a) to undertake activities in furtherance of the expanded Program of Technical Assistance, with due regard to

(1) the views expressed during the consideration of the subject at Sixth and Seventh Sessions of the Council of FAO, at the Fifth Session of the Conference, at the Ninth Session of the Economic and Social Council, and at the Fourth Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations;

(2) the need for ensuring that the approach to the organization and execution of technical assistance projects is through the culture of the local peoples, and accords with the accustomed ways and institutions of these peoples;

(3) the desirability of achieving effective coordination, so as to avoid unnecessary duplication between the activities of the United Nations and the Specialized Agencies under the expanded Program of Technical Assistance, consistent with the general program of the Organization and the policies laid down by its Conference and Council;

(4) the most effective utilization of the funds and other resources available; and

(5) the relative urgency of requests for technical assistance received from governments either directly or through the Technical Assistance Board, and the feasibility of their execution;

(b) to establish a budget for the monies and other resources received from the Special Account for Technical Assistance and to account for such monies and other resources in accordance with the accounting procedures of the Organization; and

(c) to submit an interim report on the Organization's participation in the expanded Program of Technical Assistance to the Council of FAO as soon as practicable, and thereafter to report thereon regularly to the Council and the Conference; and

- Authorizes the Director-General

(a) pursuant to Financial Regulation IX(1), to accept on behalf of the Organization monies and credits for goods and services from the Special Account for Technical Assistance, in such proportions as in the judgment of the Director-General will permit the most effective discharge of the Organization's responsibilities under the expanded Program of Technical Assistance;

(b) to enter into understandings with the appropriate authorities of the participating countries in conformity with the principles enunciated in Annex I of Resolution No. 222 (IX)A of the Economic and Social Council;

(c) to report to the Technical Assistance Committee of the Economic and Social Council through the Technical Assistance Board with respect to the Organization's activities and expenditures under the expanded Program of Technical Assistance.

B. Priority of technical assistance projects

The Conference -

Having examined the question of the order of priority to be adopted in considering requests for assistance under the expanded Program for Technical Assistance for economic development, and having taken into account the principles laid down by the Economic and Social Council in its Resolution No. 222 (IX)A of 15 August 1949;

- Recommends

(a) that, with due consideration to the fact that any system of priorities must be flexible and subject to adjustment in the light of the special circumstances of the countries making requests, to the amount of funds and other resources available to the Organization, and to other relevant circumstances, the Director-General should have regard to the following order of priority in considering requests for assistance under the expanded Program for Technical Assistance:

Category I - Measures to secure early increase in the production of food and other requirements of local populations, including both short-term projects and medium-term projects which may be expected to begin to give results in early stages;

Category II - Measures which are likely to result, within the foreseeable future, in an appreciable increase in the external income of the country seeking assistance, in the economic development of natural resources which might result in increasing exports, in reducing the need for importing goods that can be economically produced in the country, and generally in assisting in the creation of favorable conditions for investment and the expansion of trade; and

Category III - Measures of a long-term nature - mainly research and investigation projects; and

(b) that where several projects are presented in any of the above categories and are considered to be otherwise of equal importance, priority should be given to projects deemed to be of value to more than one requesting country.

C. Methods of making technical assistance available

The Conference feels that discussion of this subject must inevitably start with a consideration of the objective sought and then proceed to an examination of the means by which the objective is to be attained. The ultimate objective is, of course, to raise the standard of living of the countries helped. It is vital to the success of FAO's expanded Program of Technical Assistance that increased production be used to raise steadily and progressively the level of consumption in the countries concerned. The program should be such that it is reflected in better conditions of living for the great majority of the population. The means of attaining this objective are many and complex. For convenience they can be briefly described as "Economic Development," which may be grouped logically under three main heads:

a. increasing production of agricultural and other products related to rural economy;

b. preventing products already produced or being produced from being damaged or de stroyed before use, encouraging consumption, and promoting the equitable distribution of things produced; and

c. encouraging and guiding the necessary financial and other national resources toward the progressive improvement of food and agriculture.

In the field of FAO, by far the greater part of useful things come from small producers. Accordingly, by far the greatest part of the help that will be sought from FAO will be help for small producers to increase the efficiency and amount of their production. Some few countries have undeveloped land which can be used to increase production and to broaden the base of the national economy. Most countries have land the productivity of which can be increased by such means as irrigation, drainage, and the use of fertilizers. Usually it will be the task of governments to carry out, or at any rate to inspire, action in this field.

To prevent damage or destruction of useful things already produced, it is governments that FAO will usually be asked to help, even though it is individuals by whom the help is finally requested.

A number of countries will probably request technical assistance to improve their marketing and distribution systems, especially in the organization of farmers' markets, co-operative organizations, and the improvement of grading, standardization, and quality of products for internal consumption and export.

Some countries, too, may require help to determine what proportions of their available resources should be directed toward agricultural development as compared with more general economic development.

Finally, consideration must be given in many areas to a better balance of human and physical resources. This, in many instances, will involve consideration of problems and opportunities of migration and resettlement, both in agricultural and nonagricultural occupations. Furthermore, it will involve, in some areas, the consideration of small industries as a supplementary source of income for primary producers.

Against this background, the methods by which FAO can provide help must be considered and devised.

Nature of FAO's Assistance

The first conclusion is obvious: FAO and its experts cannot give direct help to small producers: the task would be impossibly great and the attempt basically unsound. Only their fellow-countrymen, or in rare cases other persons who have lived so long in the country and on such terms of intimacy with the people that they are virtually fellow-countrymen, can have sufficient influence with small producers to persuade and help them. In this field, therefore, FAO must act indirectly, sometimes perhaps by teaching those who will teach small producers, but more probably (since the numbers of such teachers required must inevitably be very large and the knowledge they require relatively elementary and usually best imparted locally) at second remove from the real beneficiaries, by training the staff for local institutions to teach those who will teach the producers. (It will be understood that, wherever it seems implied that FAO can itself take action of some kind, what is really meant is that FAO can organize such action. Obviously the funds for the work will be provided by governments that subscribe to the expanded Program of Technical Assistance; the actual training for example will be done at institutions in these countries or by personnel supplied by them. Only exceptionally will FAO act as a principal in such matters.)

The Conference, while recognizing that the choice of method must depend on the circumstances of each case, considers that, since in the long run economic development in the field of FAO must depend mainly on a general raising of the productive efficiency of vast numbers of producers in underdeveloped countries, a very high priority must be given to the method of training teachers for centers designed to train personnel who will work in the field in direct contact with the producer. This view is, of course, open to the criticism that this method will not produce the early results on production referred to by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC): that "special attention should be given... to activities tending to bring an early increase in national productivity "; and in the even more definite proposal of the Director-General in his report, that "first emphasis must be placed on activities which will show early results." But the plain fact is that there are few directions in which there is real prospect of significant rapid advance within the field of FAO. The best prospects of rapid advance are no doubt in the direction of preventing loss and destruction of goods already produced. Apart from this, progress can be expected to be steady and spread over a wide field but it can hardly be rapid. It is important also to stress that the speed of improvement will depend to a large extent on the possibilities of providing finance (including agricultural credit), on the stabilization of agricultural prices at equitable levels, and on the diversity of the needs of rural populations.

There are of course other ways in which FAO can give indirect help to small producers, for instance, by helping them to get improved seed, planting materials, implements and machinery, or by helping in the field of livestock improvement. The responsibility for distributing improved seed and planting materials to the small producers and helping them to improve their livestock must be the government's, but before distribution it must be established by exhaustive experiment that the material to be distributed is superior under local conditions to that in current use. There will be no serious resistance to the adoption of improved material, but no small producer will quickly make a second change from his traditional material if a former change has involved him in loss.

The substitution of improved implements for traditional ones and the introduction of machines is more difficult, though it is fair to say that a change once - adopted by a few often spreads rapidly.

Demonstration is also in many cases and under certain conditions a valuable method of introducing improvement. For success, it is essential that the farmer be convinced that the method is sound, and that the conditions under which the demonstration is carried out do not differ appreciably from those on the production unit it is hoped to improve, and it is important that the improvement should not be too many jumps ahead of current practice. Often progress is expedited by convincing the natural social leaders and working through groups of producers.

Use of Expert Teams

To turn now to broadening the economic base by bringing new resources into production, by conserving existing resources, or by increasing the productivity of resources already in production, the best way to achieve quick progress may be to employ a team of experts with any or all of the following functions:

(1) to examine and report on the possibilities of an area and of the natural resources which it contains;

(2) to advise on the framing of projects for developing or conserving such resources; or

(3) actually to initiate such projects.

The word "initiate" is used advisedly, since there is little future for a project that is dependent indefinitely on outside assistance. From this it follows that the existing local staff should participate in such projects to the greatest possible extent and that every project should make provision for the training, either "on the job" or in separate institutions, of local personnel to replace the imported experts as soon as possible. The possible methods are very similar for the prevention of waste or loss from animal or plant diseases, insect pests of crops and livestock, and the like. They include providing foreign experts until local personnel can be provided; the training of local personnel; providing scientific and technical advice and information; help in improving research stations, centers for the production of materials, and operating stations connected with particular problems, or the establishment and equipment of new ones. Such stations and centers may sometimes be suitably organized to serve more than one country, where similar problems and conditions prevail. In certain special cases where the action to be taken is to a considerable extent uniform, in spite of varying local conditions, the best method of training may be to arrange for visits to countries where similar difficulties have been overcome. In certain cases too, assistance in the organization of pilot development schemes may be useful.

The best methods FAO can adopt are the following, where the problem is one of increasing the productive efficiency and improving the living conditions large numbers of small producers:

(1) to provide, directly or indirectly, training for instructors who will establish direct contact with the small producers and teach them better production practices, or with rural families and help them to improve their living conditions;

(2) to facilitate the supply to small producers of better seed and planting material and the improvement of their livestock; this where feasible is probably the quickest method of obtaining early results;

(3) to facilitate the supply of better implements and of machines to small producers; this involves not only finding implements which are demonstrably better but also persuading the people to adopt them;

(4) to help in the organization of demonstration projects; this will be successful only if the demonstration is conducted under conditions which are as nearly as possible identical with those under which the small producers for whom it is intended work.

The methods by which FAO can most actively and effectively help governments are likely to be among the following:

(1) The provision of experts who can survey, advise on, establish, and operate projects. This may be the only action immediately possible, but it will be a waste of time and money unless in the course of it the government is equipped to carry on and expand the initial action taken. It must therefore be combined with

(2) Organization of the training, either at home or abroad, either "on the job" or in educational institutions, of inhabitants of the aided country to replace the visiting experts, particularly by providing fellowships for persons to be trained in foreign countries.

(3) The organization of observational visits by governmental, technical, and other representatives from underdeveloped countries who are familiar with the problems and conditions of their own country to countries where similar problems have been encountered and are being solved. (This is the cheapest and most effective method but depends for its success on the existence of persons with sufficient knowledge to be able to acquire and use additional knowledge.)

(4) The provision of scientific and technical advice and information, including, for example, educational films and film strips.

(5) Assistance in the creation and equipment of new, and the improvement of existing institutions for investigation, research, and experiment, and for the production of essential materials and supplies, and of operating centers.

(6) Assistance in the organization of pilot development schemes in appropriate cases.

The Conference does not claim that the foregoing methods are exhaustive or comprehensive, but does think that they include those which are most important and useful.

Reports of Technical Panels

The Conference has considered the views of the technical panels on the fields of activity within which the expanded Program of Technical Assistance might most appropriately be operated. These views are summarized below.

The Agriculture Panel considered that the most useful fields of activity would be:

(1) help to governments of underdeveloped countries in organizing their agricultural services for example by preparing monographs on this subject;

(2) training and educating nationals of underdeveloped countries both at home and abroad, possibly through founding suitable regional training centers to serve the various regions;

(3) a direct attack on major problems which limit agrarian improvement; these problems vary from region to region; in Southeast Asia and China they might relate to rice, in some regions to utilization of water, in some to the control of animal and plant diseases, and in some to land tenure and agricultural indebtedness.

The Agriculture Panel did not think it possible to establish an order of priority among these three fields of activity.

The Economics, Marketing and Statistics, and Distribution Panel considered that economics, marketing, statistics, and distribution projects should go hand in hand with technical agricultural, forestry, and fisheries projects and should be directly related to the program for the economic development of underdeveloped areas. Among the projects to be undertaken in this field, high priority should be given to the training and education of field workers and the interchange of personnel. In this connection a wide variety of approach is desirable, such as seminars, study tours, and exchange of personnel between countries having similar problems. The panel considered that both in marketing and credit particular attention should be given to cooperatives and the co-operative approach.

The Fisheries Panel considered that attention should be given first to an education and training program and every use be made of training facilities in several of the fish-producing countries which have in operation schemes for training fisheries scientists and technicians. These training schemes can be expanded to train personnel under and for the Technical Assistance Program, without withdrawing trained workers from the activities in which they are engaged. In the opinion of the panel, such a training program might extend over a period of years. The order in which the projects appear in document E/1327/Add. 1, in the view of the panel represents the desirable order of priority for carrying out the program. It feels, however, that the provision for education and training and for the production of fish in small bodies of water should be increased, and that the principle of making capital grants to governments for the provision of experimental fishing craft should be reserved for future consideration. The panel also feels that projects dealing with fish preservation, fishery credits, and fish marketing, included under other headings in E/1327/Add. 1, merit inclusion in the expanded program and should be dealt with primarily by the Fisheries Division.

The Forestry Panel considered that all the fields of activity listed under Forestry in E/1327/Add. 1 were appropriate and recommended that two items be added - correct land use with special reference to the problems of shifting cultivation and the organization of forest co-operatives. It therefore considered that the following fields of activity are appropriate:

(1) the organization and execution of forest inventories;

(2) education and training of forestry personnel;

(3) the organization of governmental forest services;

(4) reforestation in the broadest sense of the term;

(5) correct land use with special reference to the problems of shifting cultivation;

(6) industrial aspects of forest development;

(7) the organization of forest co-operatives.

These fields of activity have been arranged in a broad order of priority, but this order must be considered flexible, to suit the degree of development of countries requiring assistance. Frequently several projects might be undertaken simultaneously. In all cases the grant of assistance of the kind proposed would presuppose the creation in receiving countries of adequate administrative machinery and the allocation of continuing funds to ensure that projects once initiated are brought to fruition.

The Information Panel considered that high priority should he given to the dissemination of information leading to the application of better techniques in the production, distribution, and utilization of food and agricultural products. This will require not only the transmission of information from technician to technician by such means as publications, but also simple and persuasive popular presentation through such media as leaflets, posters, film strips, etc., and, in areas where there are suitable facilities, the popular press and the radio.

The Nutrition Panel considered that the following fields of activity are worthy of consideration:

(1) broad surveys of the food situation, including the study of local foods and food consumption patterns;

(2) the training and education of nutrition personnel and the giving of elementary training in nutrition to nontechnical workers who are in close touch with the people in their daily lives;

(3) the establishment of nutritional services;

(4) the provision of nutrition consultants; and

(5) the improvement of methods of food processing and preservation.

The Conference understands that WHO also plans to provide consultants and fellowships under the Technical Assistance Program and that these activities will be specially directed toward strengthening nutrition in public health departments and the training in nutrition of various grades of public health workers, nurses, etc. The broad division between the responsibilities of the two organizations is that while WHO will provide technical assistance in nutrition with special relation to health and health services, FAO will provide technical assistance in relation to agriculture and food management.

The Rural Welfare Panel considered that major emphasis should be placed on the development of extension and advisory services, including those relating to home economics and youth activities, and on the promotion and development of rural organization. Major emphasis should also be placed on the organization of co-operatives. It also attached importance to survey and demonstration projects covering social and economic as well as technical aspects, to training and education, and to the establishment of regional centers, preferably at the regional offices of FAO, which would inter alia

(1) promote the collection and exchange of technical information,

(2) encourage the exchange of technicians and the arrangement of training courses or centers, and

(3) arrange regional technical meetings.

The Conference points out that in many cases social customs and the traditional division of duties between men and women put obstacles in the way of agricultural improvement and improvement in conditions of life, particularly those of women as homemakers. Technical Assistance experts must therefore be qualified to formulate recommendations on the improvement of social customs and on the means of such improvement. The experts will have to possess a great deal of tact and a profound knowledge both of the social institutions of the country and of rural social questions in general. It should be noted that other specialized agencies as well as FAO are concerned with rural welfare, and action in this field should be carried out in cooperation with them.

The Conference feels that FAO should make arrangements with all countries from which it can hope to obtain experts or services which will keep it currently informed regarding the availability of such experts and services (including especially facilities for training personnel from underdeveloped countries) and enable it to obtain them as expeditiously as possible. Particular attention is drawn to the valuable help which may be obtained from experienced men who have recently retired from the public service or from private employment.

D. Preliminary preparation for the expanded program

The Conference, having considered the document, Finance for Preliminary Work in Connection with Technical Aid for Economic Development (C49/II/13), believes that the success of the Organization in connection with the expanded program will depend to a large extent in the initial stages on the efficiency of preliminary work to be done in discussing with governments and assisting them on the spot in the preparation of requests for technical assistance. No money can be expected to reach the UN Special Fund for several months and there is no provision for such work in the FAO Budget for 1950. The Conference is in full sympathy with the Director-General's desire to embark upon such work forthwith, but feels that, in view of the impending removal to Rome, no further withdrawals should be made from the Working Capital Fund, and that preliminary expense on Technical Assistance during 1950 will have to be borne by funds set aside for the technical divisions.

The Conference desires to point out that the utmost discretion should be exercised in dealing with this matter before the establishment of the Special Fund so as to avoid on the one hand the danger of giving countries requesting technical assistance the impression that FAO can make commitments at the present stage, and on the other hand the danger of giving countries that contemplate contributions to the Special Account he impression that FAO assumes they have already made commitments.


Technical Assistance for Economic Development of Underdevelopment Countries (C49/13)

Technical Assistance for Economic Development: Analysis of Views Received and Methods Applicable (C49/II/2)

Finance for Preliminary Work in Connection with Technical Aid for Economic Development (C49/II/13)

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