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O. Agrarian reform

141. The Director - General, in introducing the discussion on agrarian reform, emphasized that agrarian reform was concerned with the improvement of the institutional framework within which farm operations were carried on. Its field of interest covered a whole set of problems which made improvement of the agrarian structure a complex undertaking. The full effect of land reform and specifically of land redistribution measures, therefore, could be achieved only when they were accompanied by improvements in other closely related fields, such as credit, marketing, co - operatives, extension and community development. Thus, a composite program, in which experts with competence in many different spheres would have to play their part, would be the appropriate approach.

142. As a result of a short survey of the agrarian situation in the various regions of the world, which revealed very different sets of problems and a considerable variety of approaches, the Director - General indicated the necessity for an expansion of the Organization's program in research and training on a regional basis. In referring to the Conference document on land reform (C 59/16), the Director - General recommended the gradual building up of regional institutes on land problems, using existing university and other institutions which were suitable as starting points for the work and deploying FAO's Regular Program and Expanded Technical Assistance Program (ETAP) staff to provide the initial stimulus and co - ordination. The Director - General recognized that policy decisions in the field of agrarian reform were the prerogative of the governments themselves. FAO's part was to furnish Member Governments with the technical analysis and background information needed for making sound judgements and to function as a clearing house of experience and information.

143. The Conference expressed appreciation of the Director - General's statement and emphasized that land reform was basic in many countries for the development of agricultural productivity and for economic development. The implementation of agrarian reform policies was also recognized to be in many countries a measure of social justice, and its social aspect was considered to be of paramount importance.

144. Although agrarian reform policies varied according to physical, climatic, historical, economic and cultural conditions, they all had a common objective, that of enabling the agricultural system to provide adequate incentives to the farmers and to assimilate modern devices, thus facilitating the dissemination of knowledge and the application of improved practices.

145. The diversity of agrarian reform problems was commented on and the Conference agreed that no standard formula would be universally, applicable, even within one country and, consequently, that it would be impossible to transfer land reform programs from one country to another in their entirety. Member countries, however, might considerably, benefit from one another's experiences.

146. The Conference dealt at length with the several phases of agrarian reform, stressing the importance of thorough planning, adequate land distribution and proper implementation of an agrarian reform program. It was generally recognized that it was not agrarian reform legislation but the implementation of land reform programs that involved serious technical implications. The techniques and procedures adopted for land acquisition, land distribution, and for raising the productivity of the distributed area, were the decisive factors for the success or failure of a scheme. Measures of land reform must take into account the need for maintaining and improving the level of agricultural production by instituting adequate technical and financial facilities for the owners and operators of the new farming units, if such measures were not to be followed by social unrest and loss of confidence of the people in agrarian reform itself.

147. It was for that reason of major importance to ensure effective co - ordination of the various factors necessary for the success of an agrarian reform program. Adequate credit, marketing facilities, co - operatives and extension arrangements were necessary complements to the satisfactory reorganization of tenure relations. In some areas consolidation of fragmented holdings was the major problem. The whole policy should be focused on facilitating higher production and on maintaining workable operational units. The strengthening of the infrastructure of an economy as, for instance, by road construction and better transportation facilities, would provide further supports for agrarian reform measures. The point was made that the provision of credit without changes in the tenure system had frequently proved to be a failure because the outmoded tenure system had not been able to absorb the credit. On the other hand, reform measures with the object of establishing a small farmers economy had sometimes failed because the new owners had not been furnished with adequate technical advice and credit facilities, the ultimate result being the loss of their land to the large owners and moneylenders. The major importance of co - operatives as an instrument of agrarian reform had been confirmed in the United Arab Republic, where the implementation of the agrarian reform program was largely based on the well - established co - operative societies.

148. The Conference noted and endorsed with great satisfaction the Director - General's statement that FAO's part in the field of agrarian reform was primarily technical, and that it had no share in the political decision. Since, however, agrarian reform should be accompanied by a series of measures for the improvement of production, FAO's technical advice was invaluable and should be made readily available to Member Governments.

149. It was generally agreed that research into the various aspects and interrelationships of agrarian reform was an urgent need and that it should form the major part of FAO's future program in this field. It was suggested that FAO should carry out country studies on land tenure conditions and on the social implications of land reform programs, with the specific purpose of examining the relative efficiency of various tenure systems. The Conference suggested that in order to fulfil its function as a clearinghouse for experiences and information, FAO should strengthen its program of research and dissemination of information.

150. Considerable interest was expressed in the report on developments in the field of agrarian reform, to be submitted to ECOSOC in 1962, and FAO, as the competent agency for the preparation and coordination of this report, was requested to make adequate arrangements for this work. The importance of co - operation by universities and research institutions as well as Member Governments was also emphasized.

151. Various delegations stressed the importance of evaluation studies both on implementation of a reform program and, at a later stage, on the economic and social effects of such a program. The Government of India expressed its appreciation for FAO's assistance in the designing of methods for evaluation of effects of agrarian reform and reported that some of the proposals of the joint Indian - FAO Working Group were now being implemented by, that government. The usefulness of studies on the structure of agrarian rights was recognized and it was suggested that comparative legal studies concerning land settlement and land consolidation should be continued.

152. The Conference stressed the need to strengthen FAO's training program in the field of agrarian reform. The representative of the World Veteran's Federation indicated the necessity of training a new type of technician, one who understood the peasants' social and psychological problems and who could act as their counsellor.

153. In the opinion of the Conference, the five Regional Land Problems Centers, organized by FAO in Asia and the Far East, the Near East, and in Latin America, had contributed substantially to institutional progress in the regions concerned; satisfaction was also expressed that a Land Problems Center in East Africa was projected for 1960 and that the work of the Latin American Land Reform Team would be followed up by the assignment of an expert under ETAP. Various delegates affirmed the desirability of concentrating on training programs at national level to cope with member countries administrative standards and needs.

154. The Conference agreed with the Director - General's suggestion to establish regional research and training institutes on land problems, as there was an obvious need for research and training on a continuing basis to underpin the expanding agrarian reform schemes, particularly in Latin America and Asia. The Conference was in general agreement with the Director - General's suggestion for a modest start with the regional institutes as soon as possible and took note of the possibility that at a later stage, the United Nations Special Fund might be approached by Member Governments for its support in the further expansion of the project. Resolutions for the establishment of regional institutes along the lines indicated by the Director - General in the Latin American region and in Southeast Asia were approved.

155. The Conference expressed its appreciation generally of FAO's work in the field of land reform, and also of the Director-General's Note on FAO'S Activities in Land Reform (Document C59/16). It noted with satisfaction the analysis of the role of land tenure in the agricultural development of less developed countries included in The State of Food and Agriculture 1959, and the emphasis placed on land tenure in the Mediterranean Project. Mention was also made of the report on land tenure and land use problems in the trust territories of Tanganyika and Ruanda - Urundi.

156. The Conference, in approving the program of work for 1960 - 61, expressed the wish that the Organization should continue to pay attention to agrarian problems in Europe, where even some advanced countries were facing structural problems in their adjustment to technological progress.

157. The Conference expressed the view that the concentration of the work on agrarian problems in the newly established Land Tenure and Settlement Branch in the course of reorganization was expected to strengthen FAO's activities in this field, since it closely co - ordinated the institutional work of the Organization and reaffirmed FAO's technical leadership in the international activities concerning land reform.

The following resolutions were adopted:

Resolution No. 15/59

Creation of a Latin American Regional Agrarian Research and Training Institute


Noting the keen desire In Latin America to find adequate solutions for problems arising from outmoded agrarian structures which are retarding the agricultural and economic development of the region,

Reaffirming its approval of Resolutions Nos. 401(V), 524(VI), 625A(VII) and 826(IX) of the United Nations General Assembly, and 370(XIII), 512CI (XVII), 639B(XXIII) and 712(XXVII) of the Economic and Social Council on land reform,

Recalling Resolution 8/51 of its Sixth Session and 31/53 of its Seventh Session on the need for improving the agrarian structure of its Member Nations, and for giving priority to regional centers and seminars for the study of problems of reform of agrarian structure and land tenure and land use, and

Considering that the Fifth FAO Regional Conference for Latin America requested the creation of a Latin American Institute on Land Reform,

Requests the Director - General to initiate, in consultation with the governments of the region and, through the governments, with universities as well as with other appropriate institutions, arrangements for the establishment as soon as possible of a Regional Agrarian Research and Training Institute for dealing on a continuing basis with problems of land tenure and land use in the region, with the object of advising the governments on necessary changes in their agrarian structures.

Resolution No. 16/59

Creation of a Southeast Asian Regional Agrarian Research and Training Institute


Noting the keen desire in the Southeast Asian countries to find adequate solutions to problems arising from outmoded agrarian structures which are retarding the agricultural and economic development of the region,

Reaffirming its approval of Resolutions 401 (V), 524(1,71), 625A(VII) and 826(IX) of the United Nations General Assembly, and 370(XIII), 512CI(XVII), 649B(XXIII) and 712(XXVII) of the Economic and Social Council on land reform,

Recalling Resolution 8/51 of its Sixth Session and 31/53 of its Seventh Session on the need to improve the agrarian structure of member countries, and to give priority to regional centers for the study of land reform problems and of land tenure and land use, and

Considering that the report on the Center on Principles and Policies of Land Settlement for Asia and the Far East held in Ceylon toward the end of 1958, suggested the creation of a regional center for agrarian problems on a continuing basis,

Requests the Director - General to initiate, in consultation with the governments of the region and, through the governments, with the universities as well as with other appropriate institutions, arrangements for the establishment as soon as possible of a Regional Agrarian Research and Training Institute for dealing on a continuing basis with problems of agrarian structure, including their relation to land use in the region, with the object of advising the governments on necessary changes In their agrarian structures.

P. Mediterranean development project

158. The Director - General opened the discussion by referring to the history of the Mediterranean Development Project and the co - operation he had received from the United Nations and its sister agencies. He then outlined the integrated approach and the broad philosophy of development that had been adopted.

159. The Conference commended the approach to forestry problems as an essential element of balanced land use and with due regard to the general economic and social development of the countries concerned but expressed the view that the formulation of principles for a policy of land and water use might have been given greater prominence. It was further suggested that stud), of FAO's Mediterranean Development Project might be included in the curricula of all universities and other educational institutions concerned with land use in the region and that a land and water use faculty be established in the region. Stress was also laid on the need for all the countries concerned to consolidate and continue the work undertaken, and it was recommended that the organization should play), an important role in the initiation and co - ordination of the activities foreseen by the project.

160. Both Mediterranean and non - Mediterranean countries voiced strong approval of the project, which was described as a good example of constructive co - operation between governments. Representatives of UNESCO and ILO stressed the interest of their agencies in the project and their readiness to cooperate in its follow - up. The Conference also heard from the director of the Institute of Social Studies in The Hague of his intention to organize as a follow - up action academic conferences of social scientists to discuss some of the theoretical aspects of economic and social development in the Mediterranean area.

161. The breadth of the approach, the quality of the analysis, and particularly the strong orientation of the project toward early and concrete action were favorably commented upon. The view was expressed that the country reports and the programs they advocated were likely to be of benefit also to other countries than those directly concerned.

162. There was urgent need in the region to reverse an age - old tradition of deforestation and soil erosion. Demographic pressure on land of limited productivity, especially in a semiarid climate, was likely to lead to a serious deterioration of the situation. To co - ordinate development of all sectors of the economy was a prerequisite for any rise in standards of living from their present low levels. Despite obvious differences in conditions between countries, there were many, problems which were of concern to all, and this justified a regional approach. The analysis brought out several types of projects which might usefully be undertaken jointly by groups of countries.

163. Many delegates indicated that the objectives of the project were very much in line with the views of their own governments though, of course, each had to take due account of particular circumstances. Approval was given more specifically to the 11 propulsive sector " and regional spearhead approach, and to the importance of avoiding a dispersal of limited financial, administrative and technical resources.

164. Turkey announced its intention of setting up a development area in Antalya and Greece in the Aliakmon basin in western Macedonia. Tunisia and Morocco were similarly. considering the establishment of spearhead zones. In Yugoslavia several projects had already been initiated and others were envisaged. Progress achieved in these spearhead zones could be expected to spread gradually to the rest of each country concerned; and the experience gained in each development zone would be valuable to the other countries.

165. Some delegates felt that greater attention might have been paid to the study of markets of particular commodities and to other more specific investigations. It was, however, the consensus of opinion that although a more thorough study could have been made if more time and money had been available, the need for urgent action forced the pace. Doubts were expressed about the usefulness of economic models and projections extending over 1,5 to 20 years but the majority felt that such quantitative estimates were useful for giving adequate perspective to development programs. Several delegates pointed out that the successful implementation of the programs depended on favorable foreign markets and, in this context, stressed the need for greater international co - operation in the marketing of exportable products.

166. It was generally, - recognized that the burden of economic development was great. The emphasis of the report on the need for extraordinary efforts by each of the countries concerned was accepted by all. It was considered necessary to secure an adequate administrative structure, well - trained manpower and heavy, investment; otherwise, with the rapid growth of population, the countries would be exposed to the risk of severe setbacks in their standards of living. Such investment would have to include forestry, which should also be considered as a public works program designed to promote soil conservation, especially in mountain areas, and to absorb surplus rural populations.

167. Although most of the effort , to come from within the countries, external aid was nevertheless crucial. This could include the effective use of surpluses. To increase the effectiveness of foreign aid, it was considered necessary, to have all bilateral and multilateral assistance carefully planned and co - ordinated. Several delegates expressed the readiness of their countries to extend technical or financial assistance for development programs in Mediterranean countries.

168. It was felt by the Conference that the subject was of such importance that special intergovernmental consultations should be organized to give closer consideration to the reports and to define future action.

169. It was also suggested that the Mediterranean Development Project should be considered as a pattern for the Organization's work elsewhere and that FAO's new approach to development might also be used for a series of country studies which might be associated with the Freedom - from Hunger Campaign. Several delegates requested that studies be carried out for those countries in the area not covered by the country reports and that similar projects be initiated in other regions.

170. The following resolution was adopted:

Resolution No. 17/59

Mediterranean Development Project


Expressing its satisfaction at the completion of the reports on the Mediterranean Development Project, drawn up in compliance with the program approved by the Ninth Session of the Conference,

Considering that this project, due to the methods followed and the integrated approach to the problems involved constitute a new and important advance in the Organization's work methods and should set an example for similar projects for the benefit of other parts of the world,

1. Congratulates the Director - General on the conception and execution of this significant work and thanks the United Nations and other agencies for their invaluable collaboration;

2. Invites the governments of all Mediterranean countries to examine with all due urgency the recommendations and principles formulated in the country reports and the over - all report, with a view to their rapid implementation;

3. Invites the countries of the area for which no special studies have yet been made to initiate such studies in collaboration with FAO;

4. Expresses the hope that member countries will explore as a matter of urgency to what extent they can help the Mediterranean countries achieve the objectives of the Mediterranean Project by co - operating with the governments concerned in the measures they may now initiate and by providing a maximum of technical and financial assistance, the Director - General in contact, where appropriate, with other United Nations agencies, being invited to help in co - ordinating such assistance, where it conies from more than one source;

5. Requests the Director - General to offer all possible assistance to the governments of Mediterranean countries in their efforts to accelerate the attainment of the goals set in the country x and the over - all report, and hopes that all other interested International agencies will fully co - operate in this enterprise;

6. Draws the attention of the United Nations Special Fund to the desirability of assisting governments in the early establishment of development projects which constitute one of the most effective ways of accelerating the achievement of the objectives of the said reports;

7. Expresses the hope that international institutions which could provide financial assistance will give urgent consideration to the possibility of participating actively in the implementation of the national and regional development programs which form part of the project;

8. Invites the Director - General to organize from early 1960 onward intergovernmental consultations, using the over - all report and country reports as a basis and keeping in mind the subregions defined in the project, the principal purpose of such consultations being to frame specific proposals for national and international action programs to be undertaken forthwith;

9. Invites the Director - General in consultation with the appropriate international agencies, to explore the possibilities of initiating similar projects designed to accelerate the integrated development of agriculture and forestry, with due regard to the economic and social implications for the countries or regions concerned.

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