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IV. Major trends and policies in Food and Agriculture

A. The state of Food and Agriculture 1975
B. Strengthening of national and international agricultural research
C. Commodity and trade problems
D. Proposed strategy for international agricultural adjustment
E. The role of women in rural development
F. Policies and programmes for improving human nutrition
G. Review of the world fishery situation
H. Review of the world forestry situation
I. Development of Food and Agricultural products processing industries

A. The state of Food and Agriculture 1975

Current World Food situation
Implementation of the international undertaking on World Food security
Fertilizers and pesticides
Procedure for reporting on "The State of Food and Agriculture "
Mid-term review and appraisal of the second United Nations development decade (DD2)
Food and Agricultural policies for a new international economic order

32. The Conference reviewed the State of Food and Agriculture 1975 under three separate headings dealing respectively with (a) the current world food situation; (b) the implementation of the International Undertaking on World Food Security; and (c) the fertilizers and pesticides situation. There was a broad consensus that the main report and the two supplements provided a comprehensive and useful assessment.

Current World Food situation

33. The Conference noted that while there had been some improvement in the world food situation compared with 1974, the overall situation was not reassuring and that the short term outlook remained precarious with cereal stocks at levels well below the minimum for world food security. It also noted that, in view of the depleted level of stocks, the world would depend very heavily on the satisfactory outcome of 1976 production for meeting its food requirements.

34. The hoped for recovery in 1975 had only partially been realized. The 5 percent gain in world food production expected in mid-1975 had been progressively scaled down to 2.2 percent. Total production in the developed countries had risen only slightly in 1975, as bumper cereal crops harvested in North America were offset by lower crops in the U.S.S.R., and in eastern and western Europe due to adverse weather conditions. As a result, world import requirements of cereals were expected to reach record levels of about 145 million tons in 1975/76. This had serious implications for world food security. Continued high world demand, including large purchases by the U.S.S.R., meant that once again there was very little possibility. of any substantial replenishment of stocks, and end-of-season wheat stocks were likely to be lower. At the same time, several delegates felt that it would be more equitable to refer, in this respect, only to unfavourable weather conditions as the real reason for the decreasing possibilities of replenishment of stocks. As a result of the importance given by the developing countries to food and agriculture production and of the efforts exerted by them, as well as the influence of better weather, their food production increased 4 to 5 percent over 1974. Results had been especially good in the Far East. Per caput food production in 1975 was likely to be higher in developing regions, except Africa, although their overall food situation remained unsatisfactory.

35. The Conference noted that many developing countries, and particularly those countries most seriously affected by higher import bills (the MSAs), faced substantially larger balance of payments deficits than in 1974 because of the sharply deteriorating terms of trade and a lower demand for their exports due to the continued and deep recession in many of the industrialized countries. The MSAs would require continued and increased international assistance to pay for their minimum essential grain and fertilizer import requirements, which were expected to remain high. The Conference recommended that all countries in a position to give aid, as well as international financing agencies, should take steps to ensure that the essential food and fertilizer import requirements of the MSA countries were fully met in 1975/76. According to the latest forecasts of the Global Information and Early Warning System the cereal import needs of the 42 MSAs ranged between 17 and 19 million tons in 1975/76, only slightly less than their actual imports in 1974/75. It was also estimated that about half of these requirements, valued at $1 420-$1 860 million including freight, were yet to be covered. The import requirements of the MSA countries for plant nutrients in 1975/76 were estimated at 3 million tone. In this connexion, the Conference reiterated the appeal of the Seventh Special Session of the UN General Assembly to developed countries and developing countries in a position to do so, to provide aid, in cash and in kind, to enable them to obtain 1 million tone of plant nutrients during 1975/76.

36. The Conference also stressed the importance of food aid primarily to meet emergency and nutritional needs and to assist food-deficit countries with balance of payments difficulties. It recognized that food aid was a transitional measure and that the lasting solution to the food problem in developing countries required the removal of structural deficiencies in their economies. Several delegates informed the Conference that their countries had recently increased the level of their food aid and were contributing a greater proportion through multilateral channels, in particular through the World Food Programme, in accordance with the recommendations of the World Food Conference. The Conference recommended that donor countries should take steps to meet the minimum food aid target of 10 million tons of grains established by the World Food Conference and also to provide adequate quantities of other food commodities in 1975/76 and in future years, and urged donor countries to accept the concept of forward planning of food aid.

37. The Conference expressed strong support for the establishment of the International Fund for Agricultural Development at the earliest practicable date.

38. In its assessment of the world food situation and outlook, the Conference agreed that there was an urgent need for expansion of food production, particularly in developing countries. Several delegates recognized that the inadequate progress in agriculture in developing countries was a part of the problem of poverty and underdevelopment and that there was a need for structural changes in the world economic system, particularly through measure, aimed at promoting agricultural production in developing countries and assuring them access to and participation in markets in developed countries, and remunerative income for their exports in relationship to their imports as well as the restructuring of the economies-of the high income countries, taking into account the resolutions of the Sixth and Seventh Special Sessions of the UN General Assembly and Resolution XIX of the World Food Conference. Other delegates stressed that the well-being of developing countries was dependent on a continuation of a satisfactory level of economic activity in the developed countries. Any long-term improvement in the world food situation required a whole complex of measures, not only technical, commercial and financial, but involving political and social change. Recognizing that the main efforts to increase agricultural production have to be undertaken by developing countries themselves? the Conference urged the international community to take concrete measures in support of the efforts by these countries to become self-sufficient in food supplies, particularly in the case of countries with balance of payments difficulties as well as in MSA countries.

Implementation of the international undertaking on World Food security

39. The Conference noted the actions taken at the national and international levels. since the adoption of Resolution 3/73 by its Seventeenth Session, to evolve policies and arrangements designed to ensure world food security. A revised draft of the International Undertaking on World Food Security had been prepared by an ad hoc Working Party and subsequently reviewed by the Committee on Commodity Problems. The World Food Conference had endorsed the draft Undertaking, which had been subsequently adopted in Resolution 1/64 by the Sixty-Fourth Council Session (November 1974) and transmitted (for adoption) to all FAO Member Nations; non-Members of FAO which were members of the United Nations had also been invited to cooperate in implementing the International Undertaking.

40. The Conference welcomed the fact that 59 governments had subscribed to the International Undertaking. Delegates from another 7 countries, including some mayor cereals exporting countries (Argentina, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda and Yugoslavia) informed the Conference of the intention of their governments to adopt the Undertaking. One delegate clarified the position of his government which was now able to subscribe to the Undertaking on the basis of UN General Assembly Resolution 3362 (S-VII), provided that provisions on triangular transactions were strictly observed and the export interests of developing countries were fully taken into account. Another delegate stated that although his government was in agreement with the broad objectives of world food security, it could not adopt the Undertaking at present in view of the imprecision of some of its provisions.

41. While not in, that the countries subscribing to the Undertaking now accounted for about 95 percent of world cereal exports and for more than half of such imports, the Conference agreed that the cooperation of all countries, on the basis of the sovereign rights of nations, was necessary if it was to be fully effective. In view of the common responsibility of the entire international community and the general interdependence of countries in achieving world food security, the Conference invited all governments to subscribe to the International
Undertaking or to support its broad objectives.

42. The Conference further considered that, in addition to action at the national or regional level on food production and stock programmes, the objectives of world food security could be promoted through negotiations in appropriate fore towards an international grains agreement. Some delegates stressed that considerations of world food security made the early establishment of an international system of nationally-held reserves a matter of highest priority. Other delegates considered that such an agreement should cover the broader problems of regulating supply and that a system of reserves should be based on price and storage mechanisms. In reviewing the progress during the past year towards a new international grains agreement, a number of delegates expressed concern at the slow pace of these negotiations. The Conference urged governments concerned to complete the preparation of a new international grains agreement as soon as possible, in order that implementation of the Undertaking was not delayed. In this respect FAO should cooperate with other international bodies concerned without making unnecessary duplication of work carried out in other fore. Some delegates stated that FAO's work should not prejudge the content of such agreements.

43. The Conference agreed on the need to establish a Committee on World Food Security as a standing committee of the Council, in order to provide a forum for regular intergovernmental consultations and to carry out the functions proposed by the World Food Conference and agreed to by the Sixty-Seventh Council Session. The new Committee should, inter alia, keep under review the progress achieved towards an effective international grains arrangement and the degree to which it was likely to accelerate implementation of the principles of the Undertaking. The Conference also recommended that at its first session the Committee on World Food Security review the actions being taken by interested governments to implement the Undertaking as well as the further steps required. Some delegates suggested that, in the context of its evaluation of the adequacy of world stocks, it should also consider, taking into account the proposals made at the Seventh Special Session of the UN General Assembly, tile establishment of a target for the global cereals reserves which the world should aim at to assure food security, and which governments could consider as a benchmark while setting their own stock targets. Some other delegates considered that this would be premature until further analysis had been carried out in appropriate fore.

44. The Conference agreed that a sustained and substantial expansion in food output was a prerequisite to the replenishment of national stocks. Several delegates described the action being taken in their countries to increase food production and to expand investment in agriculture. In this connexion, many delegates stressed the need to avoid undue subsidization of high cost production. The Conference stressed the need to encourage the coordination of national food production policies, and the continuing application of the FAO Guiding Lines and Principles of Surplus Disposal.

45. The Conference urged all countries, in a position to do so, to provide additional financial and technical assistance to developing countries to enable them to expand food production, to implement their stock and storage programmes, as well as to participate effectively in a world food security policy, as envisaged in the Undertaking. In this connexion, strong support was expressed for the practical action being developed through the activities of the Food Security Assistance Programme. The Conference noted, in particular, the progress being made towards the establishment of national grain reserves from domestic production in the Sahel zone, and considered that, if successful, this could provide sub-regional food security model which would be adapted to other regions.

46. A number of delegates expressed the willingness of their governments to cooperate in tile mobilization of resources to implement the projects identified under the programme. Several major donors announced specific financial and other contributions, both multilateral and bilateral, in response to the Director-General's appeal. The Federal Republic of Germany was making available almost DM 14 million (US$ 5.4 million) through FAO to support the national grain reserve programmes in four Sahelian countries, and in addition, food security support for Bangladesh was being provided jointly with FAO. The Delegate of the Netherlands stated that his Government placed a high priority on the food security assistance programme. It had made available one million guilders (US$ 3.7 million). The Conference welcomed this support, as well as the readiness expressed by a number of other donor countries (including Austria, Denmark, Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom) and the EEC to support action developed under the programme. It invited all governments in a position to do so to cooperate actively with the FAO food security assistance programme.

47. The Conference also emphasized the important role to be played by an improved and effective food information system in the functioning of the International Undertaking on World Food Security. It noted that, following the recommendation of the World Food Conference and the subsequent action taken by the FAO Council, the Global Information and Early Warning System on Food and Agriculture had been set in operation by the Organization during 1975. All member countries of FAO and of the United Nations had been invited to join the System, the purpose of which was to monitor continuously world food supply/demand conditions so as to assist governments in taking timely action, identify countries where serious food shortages were imminent, and assess possible emergency food requirements. To date, 48 countries and the EEC had joined the Global System, and delegates of (10) additional countries indicated during the session that their governments intended to participate. Certain delegates suggested that the Director-General might review the scope of necessary data to facilitate the participation of other countries in the System.

48. The special reports on the food outlook being issued regularly within the framework of the new System were considered useful by many delegates. Recognizing that only a comprehensive System could be fully effective, the Conference urged all governments that had not already done so to inform the Director-General as soon as possible of their readiness to participate.

49. The Conference adopted the following resolution:

Resolution 2/75



Recalling its Resolution 3/73 on World Food Security, and its Resolution 21/75 on the Establishment of a Committee on World Food Security, Noting with satisfaction the endorsement of the International Undertaking on World Food Security by the United Nations World Food Conference and its adoption by the Council, through its Resolution 1/64,

Bearing in mind the support for the Undertaking and the importance of achieving world food security as expressed in United Nations General Assembly Resolution 3362 (S-VII) on Development and International Economic Cooperation,

Welcoming the encouraging and positive response of those governments which have agreed to subscribe to the Undertaking,

Agreeing that urgent action is required to implement the Undertaking,

1. Invites all governments to subscribe to the Undertaking or to support its broad objectives and principles;

2. Requests the Committee on World Food Security to examine and make necessary recommendations on the implementation of the principles, objectives and guidelines of the Undertaking, including the setting up of adequate stocks in the world, and in this connexion urges a speedy conclusion to the relevant international discussions and negotiations going on in the appropriate fore;

3. Invites governments in a position to do so to cooperate actively with FAO through its food security assistance programme in the provision of financial, food and technical support to developing countries in order to prepare and implement their national stock and reserve programmes, as well as other measures required to achieve more meaningful food security at the national level;

4. Urges governments to take steps to meet the minimum food aid target of 10 million tons of food grains, as established for 1975-76 by the Seventh Special Session of the General Assembly;

5. Recommends that all countries in a position to give aid, as well as international financing agencies, take steps to ensure that the essential food import requirements of the Most Seriously Affected (MSA) countries are met in 1975-76 as part of the overall effort to deal with the balance of payments deficits of these countries;

6. Requests governments to continue to cooperate with the Committee on Food Aid Policies and Programmes in assessing levels of food aid requirements, shipments, availabilities and programmes;

7. Urges all governments to consider participating actively in, and to provide support on, the Global Information and Early Warning System on Food and Agriculture.

(Adopted 26 November 1975)

Fertilizers and pesticides

50. Recognizing the essential role of fertilizers as a key input for quickly increasing food production, the Conference supported the main lines of short- and longer-term action being undertaken by FAO to achieve the overall objectives of a world fertilizer policy, as outlined in part 3 of the main report. FAO's programme focused on both the emergency measures to meet the current situation and the longer-term measures needed to ensure a steady and sustained expansion of the production and consumption of fertilizers at reasonable and stable prices. The Conference agreed that the problem, in the short term, was to ensure that developing countries with limited resources obtained the fertilizers they needed so that their food production prospects would not suffer. Many developing importing countries had difficulty in financing fertilizer imports, at prevailing high prices.

51. The Conference expressed its appreciation for the assistance provided both by the International Fertilizer Supply Scheme (IFS) and bilateral aid, particularly to MSA countries. It urged the continuation of IFS and increased assistance through it to developing countries. The Conference noted that the IFS would be reviewed in 1976 by the FAO Council and the Commission on Fertilizers. Most delegates indicated their current and future assistance through IFS. In this connexion the Conference recommended that regional cooperation be encouraged to secure a better flow of raw materials and intermediates to be used in the production of fertilizers.

52. Most delegates stressed the need to ensure adequate supplies of fertilizers at stable prices to developing countries, particularly at levels comparable to those in developed countries and more in line with cost of production, while maintaining a reasonable rate of return on investment. Several delegates indicated that regulation of the market would be very difficult to achieve. The Conference supported the need for improved fertilizer intelligence and welcomed the establishment by FAO of a fertilizer data centre.

53. The Conference agreed that shortages of fertilizer supplies could be remedied in the long term by increasing fertilizer production capacities in developing countries and recommended that high priority be given to this problem. The intention of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to assist developing countries in such undertakings was welcomed.

54. The Conference emphasized the need for improving the infrastructure for the distribution of fertilizers to small farmers in developing countries, including the improvement of storage and credit facilities. It noted the considerable constraints which still impeded the use of fertilizers by small farmers and recommended that further assistance be given to promote fertilizer use through the FAO Fertilizer Programme and other field programmer. Several delegates stressed the importance of training activities at the farmer level to maximize the return from available fertilizers. A better and more intensive use of organic fertilizer was also emphasized by some delegates.

55. The Conference noted the cooperation with other Agencies through the FAO/UNIDO/World Bank Working Group on Fertilizers and expressed appreciation for the actions proposed by the Commission on Fertilizers in support of FAO's programme in the field of fertilizers.

56. The Conference agreed that further reduction of post-harvest food losses in developing countries should be aimed for as a matter of priority with a view to reaching at least a 50 percent reduction by 1985. In this connexion, many delegates stressed the important role of pesticides and crop protection in food production. The Conference supported current and proposed pesticide programmes, as outlined in part 4 of the main report. It was of primary importance to meet the growing needs of developing countries for pesticides. Current high prices and the tight supply situation of pesticides were a major constraint in their wider use, particularly in the MSA countries.

57. The Conference agreed that FAO should play a significant coordinating role relating to crop protection through use of pesticides in an international secretariat which included in particular, WHO and UNIDO. This was one of the recommendations of the ad hoc Consultation on Pesticides in Agriculture and Public Health, (Rome, April 1975) which had been endorsed by the FAO Council. The Conference generally supported other recommendations of the ad hoc Consultation, including those referring to biological effects of pesticides on plants, animals and humans, and some delegates referred to their specific priorities.

58. The Conference agreed that coordination in crop protection was primarily needed in the following areas: use of interdisciplinary groups of experts at the regional level to assist national institutions; strengthening training programmes in the efficient and safe use of pesticides; increasing funds to meet emergency situations arising from sudden pest outbreaks of regional importance; instituting a global information system on supply and demand; and supporting work in integrated pest control.

Procedure for reporting on "The State of Food and Agriculture "

59. The Conference was generally satisfied with the current system of reporting on The State of Food and Agriculture, which had been in operation for two years on an experimental basis. It agreed to continue the system for another two years on a trial basis. Efforts would be made to widen the coverage of the periodical reports published in the Monthly Bulletin of Agricultural Economics and Statistics.

Review of Longer-term Trends and Policies in the Light of the Recommendations of the World Food Conference, the Declaration and Programme of Action on the Establishment of a New International Economic Order, the Mid-term Review and Appraisal of the international Development Strategy for the Second Development Decade, and the Recommendations of the 29th Session and 7th Special Session of the UN General Assembly

Mid-term review and appraisal of the second United Nations development decade (DD2)

60. The Conference noted the broad lines of the Director-General's Mid-term Review and Appraisal of Progress in the Food and Agricultural Sector during DD2. It noted that while this review was largely on a global basis, it was proposed that the next biennial review and appraisal, due in 1977, while retaining its global character, would lay special emphasis on the regional perspectives.

61. There was a general discussion of the proposals contained in the document for the modification of the International Development Strategy (IDS) adopted for DD2. The resolutions of the World Food Conference (WFC) provided the main basis for such modification, but the Conference drew attention to three points on which the Seventh Special Session of the UN General Assembly had gone further than the WFC: proposal for action to reduce post-harvest food losses by at least 50 percent by 1985; assistance to enable the MSA countries to obtain 1 million tons of chemical fertilizers (in terms of plant nutrients) in 1975/76; and the establishment of an emergency food grain reserve of not less than 500 000 tons at the disposal of the World Food Programme (WFP). The developing nations stressed that the revision of the DD2 strategy would now have to be considered in the broader framework of progress towards the establishment of a New International Economic Order.

62. The Conference agreed that a revised IDS should give much higher priority to agricultures. Because of the poor performance of agricultural production in the first five years of the Decade, it was unlikely that the basis target of a 4 percent average annual increase in agricultural production in the developing countries could be achieved for the decade as a whole. However, the Conference agreed that this target remained valid for the remaining years of DD2.

63. It was suggested in the discussion that, in addition to long-term measures, the IDS should include short-term measures, such as assistance to the MSA countries, the rapid rebuilding of food stocks, and supplementary feeding programmes to meet the "chronic emergency" of severe hunger and malnutrition. Some delegates cautioned against burdening the strategy with a multiplicity of new elements and targets.

64. Major topics that should be added to a revised IDS included world food security, structural changes in the agriculture of developing and developed countries, international agricultural adjustment, food aid, the role of food production in the developed countries, the need for a world fertilizer policy, integrated rural development, and the role of women in food and agricultural development. Better data (and especially the better identification of the rural poor) were required for more effective review and appraisal, although care should be taken not to overburden countries with too many questionnaires. Differing views were expressed on the desirability and feasibility of setting a target date for the elimination of hunger and malnutrition, but it was generally agreed that this should be studied further. Several delegates considered that the IDS should take account of the need to reduce population growth. Other delegates felt that there was ample agricultural potential in the world, and particularly in the developing countries, for envisaging further population growth without negative effects either on food security or on nutritional levels.

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