Yokohama, Japan, 28 August - 1 September 2000


Table of Contents


1. FAO convened the World Food Summit (WFS) at the level of heads of state and government in Rome from 13 to 17 November 1996. The objective was to reinforce global political commitment to achieve sustainable food security for all people. In the event, 186 delegations adopted the Rome Declaration on World Food Security and the World Food Summit Plan of Action (WFS/PoA). With the subsequent endorsement of the United Nations General Assembly, the International Community put in place the institutional arrangements and mechanisms necessary to assist countries in implementing national plans of action aimed at reducing by half the number of undernourished people in the world by no later than 2015. These included: the Country-FAO-ECOSOC reporting system; the UN Administrative Committee on Coordination (ACC) Network on Rural Development and Food Security; the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between FAO and the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights; the MOUs between FAO and international and regional banks and other funding agencies; arrangements for involvement of Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) and the private sector; and the South-South Cooperation Scheme.

2. Within FAO, the 1998-1999 Programme of Work and Budget (PWB) was very much oriented towards WFS follow-up. The same is true of the 2000-2001 PWB. Some of the far-reaching initiatives taken to support country efforts at mobilising people, raising resources and effecting technology transfer were: the establishment of the Inter-agency Working Group (IAWG) on Food Insecurity and Vulnerability Information Mapping Systems (FIVIMS); the expansion of the Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS); the development of country investment strategies, the Telefood campaign; the assistance in multilateral trade negotiations; and the strengthening of disaster relief work. Recently, FAO also strengthened cooperation with several country groups in Asia and the Pacific by preparing regional strategies and programmes for agricultural development and food security. See Annex 1, Report on Strategies for Agricultural Development and Food Security: Asia and the Pacific Region.

3. These developments were reported to the 24th FAO Regional Conference in Yangon in April 1998. Since then, significant changes have occurred in the food security situation and prospects. Some progress has also been made in the measures undertaken to fulfil the WFS/PoA. This document will (i) assess the state of food insecurity and vulnerability in the region; (ii) review problems and issues; (iii) report on progress made in following-up to the WFS; (iv) highlight collective actions to fight hunger and malnutrition; and (v) suggest critical action needed to be taken.

4. The 25th Session of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) decided to concentrate on "people-centred" commitments in the WFS/PoA review at its next session in September 2000. Accordingly, the thrust of this discussion will be towards enabling environments, poverty eradication, disaster prevention, relief and rehabilitation and collective actions in pursuance of food security and balanced nutrition i.e. commitments 1, 2, 5 and part of 7.


5. FAO, through its Global Information and Early Warning System, together with the World Food Programme (WFP) has undertaken a number of key missions to the Asia region in the last few years, most importantly to DPR Korea, Indonesia, East Timor, Bangladesh, Cambodia and Laos. These assessments have been instrumental in sensitising the international community of developing food supply problems and mobilising large-scale food assistance. In the case of DPR Korea alone the value of Emergency Operations jointly approved by the Director General of FAO and the Executive Director of WFP is approaching US$1 billion. The Organization's early warning system has also repeatedly been called upon to provide suitable briefs and interviews regarding food supply difficulties in Asia to the international media and to Governments and international agencies both within and outside the region.

6. Economically, the region continued to recover from the 1997 dual calamities of the El Niño weather aberration and the financial crisis in parts of East and Southeast Asia. In the biennium under consideration, a sharp turnaround occurred in the third quarter of 1998. Triggered by massive IMF bailouts and drastic fiscal and monetary measures, exchange rates stabilised, interest rates fell and general price levels steadied. These developments permitted GDP growth in the five crisis-hit countries to turn around from an average of minus 7.7 percent in 1998 to a positive 6.4 percent in 1999. In other developing countries, GDP growth was sustained but at lower levels. The Asian Development Bank reported that the GDP growth of developing Asia as a whole was 2.3 percent in 1998 and 6.2 percent in 1999. The latter rate was expected to be sustained in 2000. Also, the long-drawn recession in Japan may be ending. This could help the region's economic recovery. The thinking was that if developing countries carried on to successful conclusions current financial reforms and economic restructuring exercises, the region could soon return to high GDP growth rates with more assurance of sustainability than before. In short, the macro-economic situation had improved significantly since the last Session and the prospects were much brighter.

7. Agricultural production lost momentum owing to the El Niño phenomenon and a series of devastating natural disasters in 1998-1999. The agricultural growth rate dropped to a decade's low of 2.6 percent in 1997 well below the usual 4.0 percent or more per annum that had prevailed in the preceding years. Gross agricultural output recovered slowly in 1998. But staple food - primarily cereals - production regained lost ground quickly. Aggregate cereal production in developing Asia and Pacific (RAP) countries had declined by 1.1 percent in 1997/98. It increased by 3.5 percent in 1998/99 but is forecast to decline slightly in 1999/00. Other regional food security indicators such as grain stocks, food-use of cereals, prices and trade also suggested an improvement in the aggregate food situation.

8. Aggregate cereal stocks of developing RAP countries, which had fallen by 4 percent to the decade's second lowest level of 119 million tons in 1997/98, recovered significantly to 128 million tons at the close of 1998/99. It was expected to increase slightly to reach 129 million tons in the 1999/00 crop year.

9. International cereal prices declined quite significantly in the biennium. Rice (Thai 100 percent 2nd grade fob Bangkok) for example, was traded at US$316 per tonne in 1997 and at US$315 per ton in 1998. However, prices dropped to US$253 per ton in 1999 substantially below the ten-year 1989-1998 average of US$302. The price of wheat (US No. 1 H.W. fob Gulf) followed a similar pattern reaching just US$97 per ton in October 1999 compared to US$127 per ton the previous year and US$149 per ton average for the decade. Also, the price of maize (US No. 2 Yellow fob Gulf) per ton had fallen to US$88 in October 1999 from US$95 a year before against the decade's average of US$113. The extent to which these lower prices benefited consumers varied with the country. Existing levies prevented the full transmission of international price trends to domestic markets. Nevertheless, world grain prices have been favourable to vulnerable-groups and have at least permitted governments to import more with the foreign exchange available in the aftermath of the economic crisis.

10. Aggregate import of cereals into the region's developing countries, which had shown a declining trend since 1995/96, is forecast to rise to 52 million tons in 1999/00 (July/June). About one half of the cereal imports were wheat. Regarding the capacity to import and availability of supplies, there did not seem to be grounds for concern in spite of the region-wide economic slowdown and country-specific financial constraints.

11. Consequently, per capita food consumption of cereals in the developing RAP countries as a whole was stable in the 1998-1999 period. It was 183.3 kg in 1997/98, 184.7 kg in the following year and was expected to be 184.5 kg in 1999/00. During the decade, the figure has fluctuated within a narrow range of 181.4-184.3 kg, with a growth rate of 0.07 percent.


12. Underneath these regional aggregates, however, wide differences in individual country performances laid hidden. In 1998/99, the La Niña phenomenon and a series of related and unrelated weather anomalies followed the El Niño-occurrence of the previous year. Among other natural disasters, there were floods in Bangladesh, China and the Republic of Korea and droughts in Indonesia, Cambodia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Laos in 1998. These were followed by severe droughts in Afghanistan and Iran, a devastating cyclone in Northeast India and widespread flooding in Bangladesh, Nepal, Vietnam (twice) and Cambodia in 1999. Also, the negative effects of floods and droughts of yesteryears in DPR Korea persisted. Such natural disasters caused crop damages, stock spoilage, marketing disruptions and employment and income losses in addition to deaths and destruction of property.

13. Natural disaster-induced food insecurity was exacerbated by man-made calamities in the biennium 1998-1999. Civil strife continued in some parts of Asia, while new disturbances and border hostilities broke out in other areas.

14. Furthermore, for some countries, the financial crisis begun in 1997 caused massive capital flight, plunging exchange rates, bankruptcies, banking sector disabilities, business cutbacks and widespread unemployment and underemployment. Although four of the five directly hit economies struck bottom in late 1998 and a V-shaped recovery was in sight, the repercussions lingered and the return to fast-track economic growth was yet to come. Other developing RAP economies also suffered from the loss of investor confidence in the region and the fierce competition in exchange rates. Foreign direct investment into the region for example fell by 11 percent in 1998 to US$85 billion. The losses to some economies were significant. They led to negative or stagnating GDP growth rates in 1998 and lacklustre positive rates in 1999.

15. In regard to the food sector, the hardest-hit countries in 1997/98 and in 1998/99 recorded reverses in cereal output or food-use at national or local levels. Such transitory food insecurities besides causing acute food shortages, immediate hunger and in extreme cases, starvation, usually exacerbated chronic undernutrition. The consensus, however, was that with few exceptions, the natural and man-made crises in East and Southeast Asia did not exacerbate chronic food insecurity as much as had been feared.

16. A special case has been instructive where, besides the fall in rice production, surveys and estimates pointed to reduced household expenditures and lower consumption of protein and micro nutrient-rich foods. The proportion of undernourished population doubled from 6.0 percent in 1995/97 to 12.0 percent in 1999 and the numbers of wasted children and anaemic mothers increased noticeably. Employment and income losses, dis-savings and capital flight well into 1999 as well as civil unrest mean that chronic food insecurity will increase in the foreseeable future. Recovery will take some time, as suggested by the GDP growth rate forecasts of 2.0 and 4.0 percent for 1998 and 1999 respectively after a contraction of 13.2 percent in 1997.

17. The scarcity of up-to-date data notwithstanding, it was thought useful to reassess the state of chronic food insecurity based on information available since the last Session. New estimates for 1995/97 show that the percentage of the population in the developing countries of the region who were undernourished had fallen to 17 percent from the 1990/92 figure of 21 percent quoted at the WFS. While the percentage declined, the absolute numbers of undernourished increased to 525.5 million against 512.0 million five years earlier. Performances varied among countries, some did well and a few made some progress. There were those that showed no progress or marginal improvement and others, which recorded higher percentages of the population undernourished in the five-year period. To sum up, new estimates showed that Asia and the Pacific region was home to two-thirds of the developing world's 792 million undernourished people at the time of the WFS in 1996. In order to halve this number by the year 2015, the region will have to reduce the ranks of the undernourished by an average of 13 million per year over the twenty years starting in 1996. This is a challenging task indeed, given that eight of 18 countries failed to reduce undernourishment sufficiently during 1980-1996 to meet the WFS target.

18. The region's nutritional status has been pieced together recently from anthropometric surveys in countries for the period 1987-98. In South Asia, about half the children under five were stunted and underweight and one in six was wasted. In East and Southeast Asia, some 35 percent were stunted, 22 percent underweight and 7 percent wasted. The respective figures were 18, 10 and 3 percent for Latin America and the Caribbean, the developing region with the lowest incidence. Asia and the Pacific as a whole had about 70 percent of the world's severely stunted, underweight and wasted children. South Asia alone accounted for almost half of the world's underweight and stunted children. These daunting statistics underscore the scale and depth of the food insecurity problem. Beyond undernourishment stretch the complexities of undernutrition, malnutrition, poor health and sanitation.


19. Establishment of the Food Insecurity and Vulnerability Information Mapping System (FIVIMS) was called for under commitments 2 and 7 of the WFS/PoA. The objective was to provide accurate, timely and comprehensive information on the identity, location and other details of vulnerable people through nationally focussed and internationally linked mapping systems. In the past three years, the Inter-agency Working Group (IAWG) has been set up, a network of country focal points established, guidelines for national FIVIMS formulated, and conceptual and methodological issues studied. Meanwhile, a regional project to build an Asian FIVIMS database was in operation. Many developing countries have also organized national committees to undertake FIVIMS. Some preliminary results of the work so far are discussed below.

20. The vulnerable groups in the region were diverse. They included the full range of vulnerable people compiled by the FIVIMS process as of mid-1999. In the FIVIMS database, 39 vulnerable groups have been listed under six broad categories of: i) victims of conflict; ii) migrant workers and their families; iii) marginal populations in urban areas; iv) people belonging to at-risk social groups; v) some or all members of low-income households within vulnerable livelihood systems; and vi) dependent people living alone or in low-income households with large family size. Details may be seen in the FAO publication The state of food insecurity in the world, 1999. Some examples of vulnerable groups in each category were refugees, migrant labourers, unemployed people, slum dwellers, beggars, deprived ethnic minorities, landless peasants, subsistence farmers, fisherfolks and forest dwellers, the elderly and the disabled and ill. Undoubtedly, better definitions will emerge and new vulnerable groups will be identified as the FIVIMS empirical vulnerability analysis progresses.

21. The causes of vulnerability were also complex. Significantly, vulnerability was location- or group-specific and derived from multiple rather than single causes. Often it was the unique combination of several regionally common basic causal factors that determined a particular group's risk profile in a certain place. Always, the situation was dynamic, changing as each socio-economic or environmental factor changed. Therefore, to accelerate reductions in the numbers of undernourished, Low-Income Food-Deficit Countries (LIFDCs) in the region must address the basic causal factors. Some of the more urgent ones identified by the Conference in its Regional Consensus on Food Security adopted at the 22nd Session in Apia remain as critical today as they were then. They include:

22. In the eight years since then, another source of vulnerability has emerged and gained prominence. The 1990s saw the rise of the man-made calamity as one of the most threatening causes of vulnerability, now and in the foreseeable future. In this category fell war, civil strife, financial and economic mismanagement and environmental destruction. In Asia and the Pacific, major vulnerable groups created by such man-made disasters of recent years included the permanent refugees, internally displaced people, widows and orphans born of religious and ethnic fighting, returned migrant workers and their families, the unemployed from bankrupt and down-sized companies and the underemployed rural labour created by the shrinking carrying-capacity of the land. In short, all those people whose means of livelihood were reduced or removed by destructive human actions. It is no surprise that many of the LIFDCs which have not made sufficient progress to be able to meet the WFS target are also those which experienced severe man-made calamities.

23. This brought into focus once again the importance of an enabling environment for poverty eradication and reduction of undernourishment. Therefore in this region, more than ever before, concerned LIFDCs should accord the highest priority to:


Towards an enabling environment

24. The financial crisis and subsequent economic downturn in the region forced most governments to reform and restructure their economies. The thrust has been towards more competition, transparency, and efficiency in resource use aimed at sustainable economic growth with equity. During 1998-1999, many non-essential projects were cancelled, state enterprises privatised, insolvent entities folded up and the business and investment setting liberalised. These reforms are continuing and if successful will contribute to the enabling socio-economic environment needed to meet WFS objectives.

25. There was another unexpected but important development. In the wake of the financial crisis, the demand by the people for human rights, fundamental freedoms and good governance became more strident. A general shift in attitude, approach and practice towards more democratic and participatory governance was discernible as of early 2000. Specific examples make this observation clearer: democratically elected governments committed to more regional and local autonomy put in place; food security accorded the highest priority in the national development plan and participatory rural development programmes instituted at local levels; democratic approach in resolving disputes among labour, industry and government in the economic restructuring process; and concerns of the poor increasingly heeded and addressed during the economic crisis. Temporary setbacks and standstills in some countries notwithstanding, the socio-political environment for the fight against undernourishment has surely and steadily improved in the region.

Poverty eradication

26. Developing member countries in the region continued to pursue sustainable agriculture and rural development as the principal means of eradicating poverty and reducing undernourishment. Governments generally adopted the conventional strategy of building infrastructure, improving technology, diversifying income-generating activities, providing supporting services and, wherever possible, supplementing capital via grants, subsidies and credit. But the pace was slow for many LIFDCs owing to a number of common fundamental reasons. For example, based on in-depth studies, five developing Pacific island countries agreed in an FAO seminar in Samoa in April 1999 that the main constraints to poverty eradication and food security were: inadequate access to land, vulnerability to natural hazards, lack of skills, distant markets, inadequate infrastructure and fragile natural resources. Agriculture sector studies of other LIFDCs during 1998-1999 revealed many of the same constraints in different degrees and in unique country-specific combinations.

27. Significant increases in capital flows into sustainable agriculture and rural development will be needed to overcome these constraints. Consequently, the mobilisation of manpower and financial resources for the implementation of WFS national plans of action is considered the most critical task of LIFDC governments. For this reason, FAO created the Unit for Cooperation with the Private Sector and the NGOs. This unit, located in the Technical Cooperation Department, has been looking into ways and means to harness resources from non-governmental sources.

28. In this context, national poverty eradication programmes have been reinforced by FAO's Special Programme for Food Security in recent years. As of January 2000, a total of 13 RAP member countries were participating in this programme and several more were preparing to join. The objectives, methods and achievements of this top priority programme of FAO are given in Annex 2, World Food Summit Follow-up: FAO Special Programme for Food Security. Meanwhile, FAO's Telefood campaign raised seed money for small-scale women-centred and participatory income-generating activities at village level especially within the framework of the SPFS. By then, there were some 450 Telefood projects world-wide, of which more than half were in the region. In addition, FAO's South-South Cooperation Scheme reinforced the transfer of technology among developing countries in the SPFS. Projects were operational in 12 countries world-wide. Four RAP member countries namely, Bangladesh, China, India and Vietnam were providers of technical assistance and one, Bangladesh was a recipient. Part of the explanation for the popularity of the SPFS, Telefood and the South-South Cooperation Scheme may be that they have raised the profile of sustainable agriculture and rural development, generated interest in its methodology and processes and attracted investments from local, national and international sources.

29. In the biennium under consideration, three trends in poverty eradication initiated earlier became noticeable in the region. One might be called simply the "Back to agriculture" trend. After years of benign neglect, several LIFDCs have re-prioritised the agricultural sector and made it the engine of growth for the economy. Budgetary allocations have been raised to revitalise the sector through improved resource use, development of new products and processes, import substitution, cultivation of new markets, promotion of foreign direct investment and other related activities. Countries have declared major policy revisions to embark on this path. Apart from the WFS, several other reasons accounted for this renewed interest in the sector. These were:

30. Nowhere was this return to agriculture on the back of the three basic issues of economic recovery, WTO imperatives and genetically modified foods more evident than in Asia and the Pacific, where populations are relatively better educated and NGOs more active. This development is likely to be critical in the fight against undernourishment in the coming decade. The Conference may wish to recommend that governments give the highest priority to resolving the afore-mentioned issues in the context of sustainable food security and balanced nutrition.

31. Another important emerging trend was the decentralisation and devolution of responsibilities for poverty eradication and food security. Local authorities were increasingly called upon to mobilise resources and take action to raise productivity, create employment, stabilise food prices and protect vulnerable groups. The Government of India, for example, has reinforced the "Panchayat Raj" or self-governing village system passed by a constitutional amendment bill in 1992. Supported by the federal and state governments, villagers took part in decisions on production and marketing infrastructure and services, employment and income generating activities and help for the poor. In China, provincial and municipal authorities have been progressively given the responsibility of ensuring food security through local "Grain Risk Funds", "Rice Bag Campaigns" and privatisation of state grain trading agencies. A natural extension of this policy and programme package has been that local initiative in employment and income generation must now increasingly replace the safety net afforded by the Chinese Public Distribution System (PDS). With similar localisation objectives, the governments of other LIFDCs in the region particularly Bangladesh, Nepal, the Philippines and Thailand, have been allocating funds directly to villages to eradicate poverty. This is a positive development very much in line with the WFS commitment to participatory action at all levels in the pursuit of food security and balanced nutrition.

32. A third promising development has been the growing practice of targeting the real needy for income support, food assistance and help in acquiring income-generating assets. Hitherto, such assistance has been untargeted or superficially targeted and therefore spread too thinly to be effective. The change may make a difference in poverty eradication in the coming years. Examples of this reorientation in aid dispensation can be seen in (i) the improved targeted PDS, Jawahar Rozgar Yojana employment generation scheme and the nutrition programme for children, pregnant women and lactating mothers in India; (ii) the rising share of PDS resources going to Food-for-Work, Vulnerable Group Development, Vulnerable Group Feeding and Food for Education programmes in Bangladesh; (iii) increasing commodity loans to small rice and cassava farmers in designated areas in Thailand; (iv) more cost-effective direct subsidy payments to registered paddy cultivators in Malaysia; and (v) the special poverty eradication programmes for 1715 of the poorest communes in Vietnam. There were indications that this renewed interest in targeting was spreading. The new Agricultural Perspective Plan in Nepal has selected poverty-stricken areas for special assistance in accordance with their local endowments and shifted PDS operations from urban to remote areas. The Philippines has emphasised the development of a food safety net for the poor within its overall privatisation and structural adjustment programme.

Disaster prevention, relief and rehabilitation

33. Asia and the Pacific has become the most disaster-prone region in the world owing to high population density, environmental degradation and continuing migration to vulnerable areas. At the close of the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDNDR), there was consensus at the 1999 Asian round-up meeting that natural hazards associated with tropical cyclones, floods, geological conditions and severe climatic aberrations would get worse. Disaster prevention, relief and rehabilitation must be an integral component of sustainable development in the region.

34. Generally, disaster-prone countries were familiar with what was needed. Most concerned governments have established the essential elements of disaster preparedness, namely, (i) strategically located food reserves, (ii) a national early warning system, (iii) a standby disaster unit and (iv) a contingency plan. However, the form and substance of these elements were highly variable. India, China and Bangladesh, with histories of frequent and devastating natural hazards, have highly developed preparedness programmes. Their capacity for handling recent cyclones and floods with minimum foreign assistance supported this claim. Other recently hit countries have had less experience in dealing with natural disasters as well as resource constraints. Recovery has been slower.

35. Generally, country experiences in 1998-1999 indicated increasing difficulty in improving disaster preparedness and mitigation programmes. The reasons for the slow progress have been identified as the rising frequency and scale of disasters, declining foreign food aid in the region, reduction of food subsidies and the shift of people's livelihoods away from staple food production to non-food industries. Given these unfavourable factors, a change in attitude and approach seems necessary. Countries must take a long-term view of disaster prevention and mitigation and accordingly invest in permanent infrastructure, institutions and services, as well as education and training of disaster-prone groups. They must also link disaster prevention and mitigation schemes with rural development and environmental protection programmes. Countries must also be self-reliant in their efforts to the extent possible.

36. In this context, the IDNDR-ESCAP Meeting for Asia on risk reduction and society in the twenty-first century (Bangkok, February 1999), after reviewing achievements in the nineties, highlighted several critical areas for follow-up action. These were:

37. At the regional and international levels, the Meeting called for collective actions to:

38. FAO's work has been guided by the commitments set forth in the WFS/PoA. In the biennium under consideration it has assisted RAP member countries improve the capacity to handle all eight phases of the disaster cycle, namely prevention, preparedness, early warning, impact and needs assessment, relief, rehabilitation, reconstruction and sustainable recovery. Some recent high-profile activities included farmer-centred agricultural resource management, FIVIMS, disaster preparedness planning, strengthening national early warning systems, development of drought cropping patterns, flood management, improving food quality control, and safety measures and the Emergency Prevention System for Transboundary Animal and Plant Pests and Diseases. The value of FAO-managed agricultural relief projects was about US$40 million per year and the value of FAO-WFP emergency food operations was in the region of US$600 million per year.

Collective actions

39. One subregional initiative, namely the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) Common Effective Preferential Tariff (CEPT), made good progress in the 1998-1999 biennium. The new round of tariff cuts in January 2000 reduced rates to 0.5 percent for 85 percent of ASEAN products totalling 38 456 tariff lines. All products of the original six ASEAN members will be covered by 2002. Provisions for slower schedules have been made for the new members, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. In the longer term, the subregion was working towards the elimination of import duties on all products by 2018. As an interim measure, it will reduce tariffs to zero for 60 percent of all products by 2003. The average tariff rates for products under AFTA would be reduced from 4.86 percent in 1999 to 2.75 percent in 2003. The product range was wide including agricultural as well as non-agricultural products.

40. Along with CEPT came other trade-enhancing developments such as customs harmonisation, standards and conformity assessment and information exchange. These were not all. AFTA's CEPT also paved the way for several other critical initiatives, namely the Framework Agreement on ASEAN Investment Area, liberalisation of trade in services, and enhancement of food security and global competitiveness of ASEAN's food, agriculture and forestry products. These developments will have far-reaching consequences for ASEAN economic recovery, poverty eradication and food security and balanced nutrition.

41. Another important development made possible by collective action has been the rising labour mobility across countries in the region. From a food security perspective, the earnings sent back by migrant workers as well as the reduced dependence on the farm at home have helped food security. The scale of worker migration was significant. The International Labour Organisation estimated the pre-financial crisis number of migrant workers in 1997 at 4.68 million located in six major receiving countries, namely Malaysia 1.7 million, Thailand 1.26 million, Japan 0.7 million, Singapore 0.45 million, Hong Kong (China) 0.3 million and the Republic of Korea 0.27 million.1 The financial crisis appeared to have put a lid on the flow of migrant workers, causing one million of them, region-wide, to return home in 1998. But repatriations seem to have slowed or stopped particularly in Malaysia, Thailand and the Republic of Korea. The main reason of course was that these receiving countries needed the workers for jobs that their own labour pool could not fill, especially in the plantation and construction sectors and in low-technology manufacturing industries. There was consensus in several regional fora that worker migration in the future would gather momentum. That is why the concerned countries have been increasingly taking joint action to:

42. However, a third regional initiative in pursuance of collective self-reliance in reserve stocking did not prove useful in the recent series of natural disasters and economic downturn. The ASEAN Emergency Food Security Reserve was not drawn upon even by the most seriously affected countries. Similarly, none of the South Asian countries made use of the SAARC Emergency Food Security Reserve during the recent cyclones, floods and droughts in the subregion. Neither reserve has ever been used since their establishment even though there were many occasions when they could have alleviated tight supply situations. Participating countries may wish to re-examine the agreements to see how they might be made more relevant in the current times.


43. Approximately eighteen months after the WFS, regional member countries' drive towards meeting their commitments in the PoA was nearly derailed by the series of devastating natural disasters caused by the El Niño phenomenon and by the economic downturn triggered by the Asian financial crisis. Following a year of uncertainty and negative growth during 1997 and 1998, the economies of the most seriously affected countries started to recover in the third quarter of 1998. The macroeconomic variables such as exchange, interest and wage rates and general price levels have stabilised. Exports were growing and jobs were being created again. The economic recession was short-lived and the much-feared economic depression did not come to pass. The fight against poverty and undernourishment seemed to be back on track.

44. The record of performance over the long term however was not encouraging. Latest information available showed that eight out of 18 countries in the region did not make sufficient progress in reducing undernourishment during 1980-1996 to reach WFS targets. Whether concerned countries can expedite progress in the coming decade will depend on their ability, individually and collectively, to force several critical developments underscored in the WFS/PoA.

45. One, they must adopt the participatory approach in planning and implementation, with emphasis on women and civil society organizations. The preparatory stages of building awareness and forging linkages have passed and must now be followed by actual participatory processes. These are proving to be harder in deed than in words, especially in societies with histories of limited people's participation in governance.

46. Two, country commitments in the WFS/PoA must be backed up by investment capital. Without an increased flow of capital into sustainable agriculture and rural development, it will be "business as usual" and poverty eradication will not move in many LIFDCs. But even in the best of circumstances, government funding has been inadequate and private investment has not been attracted to the sector owing to the long-term and low-yield nature of food and agricultural projects. New directions must be explored and special efforts made to mobilise capital for the WFS/PoA. Foreign direct investment in agriculture, fisheries and forestry, long regarded as undesirable, may be explored. Indeed, some of the more forward-looking countries have already selectively opened up closed and protected areas for foreign participation. Cases in point are feed, seed and machinery and equipment in China, palm oil in Indonesia and the Philippines, food processing in Malaysia, aquaculture in India, and livestock feed and broilers in Indonesia. In addition, the granting of special incentives and privileges such as pioneer status, tax concessions and infrastructure and services support for investors in the sector may be taken up more intensively.

47. Three, the way ahead will be easier if countries collectively ensure that the interests of billions of small and subsistence-oriented farmers, fisherfolks and forest dwellers as well as the urban poor be protected in any new round of trade negotiations. Following the Seattle Ministerial Conference, it is imperative that concerned countries prepare negotiating positions with a view to achieving lasting food security and balanced nutrition for their vulnerable people without turning away from the goal of a more just, equitable and environmentally sustainable way of life. Calls that social aspirations should not be subordinate to trade objectives are increasingly being heard. In practical terms, trade agreements must not lead to diminished entitlements and dislocation of vulnerable people; and the Uruguay Round Agreement's Ministerial Decision to compensate least developed and net-food importing countries hurt by trade liberalisation must be implemented effectively.

48. Four, developing countries must individually and collectively play a bigger role in the research and development of sustainable agriculture. The recent Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research review in mid-1998 sought to improve the governance, strengthen linkages and raise cost-effectiveness of international agricultural research. The outcome was expected to improve technology transfer and reinforce national food security programmes. This can only come about if developing countries increase their participation in planning, implementation and monitoring and evaluation of international agricultural research.

49. Finally, developing countries must pursue vigorously the protection and realization of farmers' rights to genetic resources for sustainable agriculture and food security in the continuing negotiations on this important issue.

Annex 1

World Food Summit Follow-up:

Report on Strategies for Agricultural Development and Food Security,

Asia and the Pacific Region

1. The purpose of this report is to inform the Regional Conference on actions taken by FAO in relation to national and regional strategies in the Asia-Pacific region as a follow up to the World Food Summit (WFS). See Annex 2 for a separate comprehensive report on the FAO Special Programme for Food Security in the Asia-Pacific region.

Draft strategies for national agricultural development - horizon 2010

2. Draft strategies for national agricultural development - horizon 2010 were prepared at FAO's initiative for 150 developing member countries and countries with economies in transition, as an initial step in the preparation of the follow-up to the WFS. They were drafted with a view to: (i) help member governments implement at the national level commitments that have been made at the global level; (ii) create a close partnership with all collaborating United Nations system and other international development agencies in supporting the development and implementation of the agricultural strategy of member countries; and (iii) help put investment in agriculture high on the national and international agenda. The strategies were based on official government documents, including national position papers for the WFS, as well as relevant information and data from FAO and other official sources. Senior officials of concerned governments reviewed the drafts and their comments were incorporated.

3. Updating and, where necessary, amending the national strategies is important for ensuring that the policies and programmes for sustainable food security at national and household level remain consistent with the changing socio-economic and food security situation in each member country. Therefore, starting in late 1999, workshops were held with the aim to help take stock of the progress in implementation and to update the draft. It was expected that these national workshops, organized by the respective governments, would be attended by all relevant government officials, parliamentary commissions, actors of civil society, private sector, non-governmental organizations and development partners.

Regional strategies for agricultural development and food security

4. Though most of the critical issues related to poverty and food insecurity have national characteristics, to reinforce national policies and programmes and take advantage of synergies and complementarities at regional and subregional levels, FAO has undertaken to expand its cooperation with the Regional and Subregional Economic Groupings (REGs) of developing countries and countries in transition. FAO stands ready to assist the REGs in the formulation of policies and programmes designed to promote sustainable agricultural and food production, better access to food, food safety and the enhancement of trade in food and agricultural products at national, subregional and regional levels.

5. To pursue this commitment, FAO, in collaboration with the relevant regional and subregional institutions in Africa, the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific, Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and Latin America and the Caribbean, is elaborating for each relevant REG a Regional Strategy for Agricultural Development and Food Security (RSADFS).

6. Each RSADFS draws extensively, but not exclusively, on the findings, conclusions and key policy recommendations of the Strategies for national agricultural development - horizon 2010. The RSADFSs highlight the commonalities of member countries with respect to agriculture and food security, identify major differences in resource endowment and policy parameters, recommend policy options and strategic thrusts for cooperative effort among members of the concerned economic grouping and propose tentative estimates of investment requirements in agriculture covering the period 1998-2010.

7. The regional strategies are complemented by Regional Programmes for Food Security (RPFS) designed to implement the key elements embodied in the RSADFS. Worldwide, thirty-four REGs have been invited initially to collaborate in the preparation of the respective RSADFS and RPFS, with draft strategies and project documents prepared accordingly. Joint elaboration of the strategies and programmes is under way.

8. RSADFSs and RPFSs have been prepared for the following regional and subregional economic groupings which are of relevance for the member countries of the Asia-Pacific region:

9. Other regional or subregional economic groupings, whose membership entirely overlaps that of groupings for which regional strategies are prepared, have been informed of this initiative based on short documents derived from the main findings and recommendations of the regional strategies. This is the case in Asia and the Pacific of the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IORARC); the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC); the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC); and the Pacific Community (PC).

Regional Programme for Food Security (RPFS)

10. The emphasis of the RPFSs is to address, in the context of the respective national and regional strategies, those issues which are regional in character and can be better addressed at regional level. The main objective is to contribute and improve, on a sustainable basis, access by all the people of the region at all times to adequate food required for a healthy and active life through increases in productivity, production and trade of food crops.

11. With respect to increase in productivity and production the focus is on support to and expansion of the Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS), including the microeconomic phase as well as assistance to policy review and formulation, preparation of investment programmes in subsectors of agriculture, and identification and formulation of viable projects for domestic and external financing.

12. With respect to trade, the focus is on harmonised policies and measures for trade facilitation by reducing sanitary and phytosanitary barriers, technical obstacles, promoting the reduction and harmonisation of tariffs and adopting international Codex Alimentarius norms and standards. Such trade facilitation measures could induce local and national specialisation through enhanced competition, and allow better expression of the comparative advantage positions of the member countries of the REGs for enhanced food security and overall economic development.

13. As part of the one-day national workshops referred to in para 3 above, executive summaries of the relevant RSADFSs were made available at the national workshops, so as to inform participants of FAO's on-going endeavours to support regional economic groupings.

Annex 2

World Food Summit Follow-up:

The FAO Special Programme for Food Security


1. The Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS) was launched after its unanimous approval by the FAO Council in 1994. It was further endorsed by the World Food Summit in November 1996. There, the Heads of States and Governments committed themselves to making food security a priority of their national development efforts (beneficiary countries) or of their development supporting policies (donor countries). The summit further agreed to seven basic commitments aimed at reducing by half the number of undernourished people in the world by the year 2015. The SPFS main objectives are to assist Low-Income Food-Deficit Countries (LIFDCs) to rapidly increase food production and productivity on a sustainable basis, reduce year-to-year variability of production and improve access to food as a contribution to equity and poverty alleviation (Chart 1 below). Thus, the programme is expected to contribute substantially to the implementation of the basic commitments of the World Food Summit Plan of Action, in particular the following three:

2. The core features of the SPFS strategy are: national ownership; partnership with the development partners, including donor countries and multilateral financial institutions; participation of farmers and other stakeholders; emphasis on technical modernisation; priority to small farmers; gender sensitivity; and integrated, multidisciplinary and phased approach.

3. Governments and rural communities implement the programme in two phases. Field demonstrations of Phase I involve the mobilisation and training of local personnel and farmers and the supply of seeds, tools and equipment. The four interrelated and complementary components of this phase are: water control, including small-scale irrigation and drainage, water harvesting and on-farm water management; intensification of sustainable plant production systems; diversification toward aquaculture, artisanal fisheries and small animal production; and analysis of socio-economic constraints. The results obtained at demonstration sites each season are quantified and analysed to reorient operations and provide a firm analytic basis for replication at additional sites, including urban and peri-urban sites.

4. Phase II, the macroeconomic level of the SPFS, entails nationally prepared action plans addressing on a large scale the opportunities and constraints identified in the previous phase. Each plan is composed of national food and agriculture policies intended to lift macro-level and sectoral constraints and provide an environment favourable to agricultural production, processing, marketing and access to food; an agricultural investment programme, to improve the physical infrastructure and increase the private and public financing of agricultural activities and services; and feasibility studies of projects ready for implementation.

5. To facilitate the correct implementation of the objectives and strategy, the programme assists countries to set up an institutional framework at various levels, to mobilise domestic and international financial resources and to develop an innovative South-South Cooperation (SSC) scheme.

Undisplayed Graphic


6. More than 75 developing countries had applied to participate in the SPFS. The lessons learned and results obtained in some 20 countries during the first three years have contributed in the last two years to the extension of ongoing country activities and a rapid incorporation of new countries. By the end of March 2000, the programme was operational in 60 countries, including 13 in Asia and two in Oceania, as well as 36 in Africa, two in Eastern Europe and seven in Latin America. The programme was under formulation in 17 more countries, including six in the Asia-Pacific region. The following paragraphs summarise the status and main results of the implementation of Phase I in the Asia-Pacific region.

Results of Phase I activities

7. Each of the Phase I country activities now in operation has its own monitoring and reporting system in place. Altogether, this is starting to generate a substantial amount of information on the performance of the SPFS. Data from these monitoring systems are regularly collated by the SPFS monitoring and coordination unit (TCOS) and published as country information sheets. These sheets are updated on a quarterly basis by the national teams, with assistance from FAO Representatives and the relevant country project officer, as requested. Results emanating from the implementation of Phase I confirm that agricultural production and farm incomes can indeed be increased, but that there are a number of critical constraints (i.e. physical, financial and economic, or policy) to be overcome. Phase I activities have generally stimulated the interest of farming communities in participating countries to adopt improved technologies, increase food production and thereby increase farm income. The positive results being achieved are reflected in the strong support accorded to SPFS by participating farming communities and governments. (See also Box 1.)

Box 1 - SPFS selected achievements in the Asia-Pacific region

In China, the special programme has been operational since May 1995 in Sichuan province. Some 3 000 farmers - half of them women - are directly involved in the demonstration activities. SPFS is being implemented in 20 sites in 10 counties. FAO is supporting the diversification component (livestock and rice/fish/fruit tree production) in 19 villages in 10 counties, with US$69 978 from SPFS Regular Programme funds. The average income of participating farmers in 1996 increased by an average of 19 percent over 1995 and by 16 percent over 1994. The 1996 increase in income was derived 58 percent from increased grain production, 24 percent from increased livestock production, 12 percent from increased cash crop production and six percent from other sources. In addition, thousands of farmers have been trained and irrigation systems have been considerably improved. Because of the good results, the Sichuan authorities wish to extend the demonstrations to 10 counties.

An FAO/China multidisciplinary formulation mission for the extension phase, funded by UNDP, visited the country in January-February 1999. The total cost of the extended programme over four years was estimated at US$40-50 million, about half of which would be solicited from donors. The proposal was discussed in a donor meeting in Beijing in July 1999, during which UNDP and the governments of Italy, Australia and Ireland expressed interest in possible involvement. A proposal with a budget of US$2.5 million (to be matched by China with a similar amount) has been submitted to the Government of Australia for consideration.

China is a provider of south-south cooperation in Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Mali and Mauritania, for which agreements have been signed, and in Ghana, for which an agreement is expected to be signed soon. China may also provide assistance to the Democratic Republic of Congo, C�te d'Ivoire, Gabon and Guinea.

In Cambodia, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery is satisfied with SPFS because its innovative approach motivates farmers and achieves good results in the fields. The SPFS methodology is an interesting instrument to improve and stabilise the production of food and to improve agricultural extension services. Recommendations of the steering committee include the adoption on a national scale of the in-service training and participatory extension approach.

The agriculture minister has asked for FAO assistance in the continuation and extension of the programme to other provinces. The most important objectives and activities during the second phase of the project are food security, environmental management and socio-economic aspects of the population. The Cambodian Government is approaching partners who can support the request. Discussions have been held with bilateral donors, including Australia, Belgium, the Republic of Korea, Japan and the Netherlands, and with the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank. The Belgium Cooperation Office in Phnom Penh has requested a proposal for future support to SPFS and a draft has been prepared. The main issue concerns the mobilisation of donor support for the extension of SPFS as the Cambodian Government largely lacks the resources to do so.

Cambodia and China have been selected by the Director-General for a high-level visit in September 2000, which senior representatives of FAO member countries and international financial institutions are expected to attend.

Water control

8. In many agro-ecological zones of developing countries, water control practices are essential to increase food production and avoid sharp year-to-year fluctuations. They include water management and irrigation, with emphasis on a wide range of low-cost infrastructures and techniques particularly adapted to small farmers' agriculture. In some countries, such as Nepal and Pakistan, Phase I is so far entirely based on promoting improved water management and irrigation techniques including related intensification, while in countries like China, Cambodia and Mongolia, demonstration activities have covered both rainfed and irrigated agriculture. In China and Papua New Guinea, Phase I activities were started only under rainfed conditions and are being extended to include irrigation.

9. The irrigation demonstrations focus on techniques of efficient water use, promotion of Water Users Associations (WUAs), prevention of irrigation-related problems such as water-logging, salinity or alkalinity, and prevention of underground water pollution caused by intensive use of chemical fertilisers in irrigated agriculture. Water management activities would also include prevention of possible waterborne diseases.

10. In Cambodia, the most significant changes to the cropping systems were the introduction of new high-yielding varieties of rice and new vegetable seeds, and improved husbandry methods through farmer field schools. The combined effect of better water management, use of certified seeds and appropriate fertiliser practices substantially increased rice yields. In 1998, the average yield increase for the six pilot sites in the dry season was 30 percent, i.e. from 2.0 ton/ha before the SPFS demonstrations to 2.6 ton/ha afterward. Yield increases were for a large part attributed by farmers to the effect of better water management (80 percent reported an average of 300 kg/ha due to better water management). From crop cuttings on the demonstration plots for fertiliser applications, an increase of 300kg/ha was recorded, while the effect of certified seeds of high-yielding varieties was reported to be 150 kg/ha. The share of non-rice crops such as vegetables in the rice-based cropping system increased from 33 percent to 67 percent of all farmers in one season. The percentage of farmers who said they faced food shortages in the SPFS target areas dropped from more than 50 to 15 percent after one season of SPFS demonstrations, while the number of farmers who claimed a food surplus in 1998 increased from 10 to 40 percent.

11. Results from Nepal show increases in irrigated areas in 19 sites under a wide range of food crops from 10 to 42 percent. Cropping intensity increased by 30 to 60 percent. The area under perennial irrigation increased by 15 percent in one season. Through the WUAs, users of irrigation actively participate in the decision-making process when it comes to the creation and use of irrigation potential. On-farm water management techniques introduced in both hill and terai districts are effective. A financial and economic analysis carried out on two SPFS sites in Nepal showed encouraging results with an economic internal rate of return of 47-89 percent. Farmers have learned much about a more efficient use of water. The WUAs are likely to continue to perform as they have seen the benefits.

12. In Papua New Guinea, the water control component, funded by the FAO Technical Cooperation Programme, was added in June 1998. The water component foresees the introduction of two small rice schemes (10 ha), 10 to 15 micro horticulture schemes and two demonstration schemes at the model farms. As irrigation is new to the area, different techniques including surface irrigation, localised drip irrigation and low-lift pedal pump will be tested and adapted where appropriate. The introduction of the water control component will be accompanied by appropriate training and group formation, with due consideration of land ownership. The first results of this component are very promising as farmers engaged in vegetable production realized very high net profit margins.

13. In Pakistan, the federal minister for food, agriculture and livestock inaugurated the harvest of the first wheat crop (1999) under the SPFS in Sargodha on 18 April 1999. The ceremony was largely attended by the farmers of the surrounding villages, senior officials of the local administration, members of Parliament, the mayor of Sargodha and dignitaries of the area. The representative of the village organization praised the project for its effort in increasing food productivity with full participation of the community through the water users association and the village organization. The concept of the programme, its approaches and strategies to increase crop yields are simple and replicable. Yield estimates done by the statistics department showed an increase to 58 mounds per acre as opposed to the national average of 22 mounds per acre. The minister expressed pleasure over the yield increase and commended FAO for this initiative.

14. In Mongolia, the results of the demonstrations in 1998 show that participating farmers achieved yields of different crops between 14 and 41 percent above those of their neighbours. Eight participating farmers are estimated to have earned more than double the estimated average 1997 income while the average income increase was 69 percent. During the 1999 cropping season, farmers planted around 28 ha of crops (10.9 ha carrot, 5.0 ha turnip, 7.2 ha cabbage, 3.3 ha cucumber and 2.0 ha other crops). Results are expected to be similar.

Crop intensification

15. Agricultural intensification enhances single practices (soil preparation, varieties, fertilisation, etc) as well as production and processing technological packages. In the SPFS experience, single practices tend to predominate in rainfed areas while technological packages are more common in irrigated areas. Crop intensification focused initially on few products (rice, maize), but sorghum, wheat, millet, cassava, yam and horticulture were incorporated in the last seasons. Monitoring data indicates that the improved farming systems and technologies promoted by the programme have high rates of adoption and result in substantially higher yields and incomes.

16. Crop intensification has been implemented in Papua New Guinea, China, Cambodia and Mongolia, with positive results. It has focused mostly on improved crop husbandry practices under rainfed conditions, to generally encouraging results.

17. In Papua New Guinea demonstrations started in July 1996 covering maize, rice and vegetables within a farming system context, which among other things included animal production. The pilot demonstrations were designed for rainfed conditions. The El Niño-related droughts that hit the country clearly indicated the need for additional water control. Maize yields in 1997 reached 2.1 tons/ha. Cost-benefit analysis carried out by the FAO Subregional Office for the Pacific Islands showed a negative result for this production level at the prevailing market prices for maize. Rice production in 1998 reached 3.8 tons/ha with gross margins of around US$100/ha.

18. In China, production increases in grain in 1997 amounted to 62-65 percent and food availability per farmer was 60 percent higher in 1997 compared to 1994, i.e. before the SPFS.

Diversification on small animals and fisheries

19. The diversification component, particularly targeted to women and small farmers' agriculture, is generating new skills for small animal production, apiculture, fish farming and artisanal fishery. The incorporation of this component into the SPFS has been strengthened since 1999 and thus has yet to reach its full momentum. However, diversification is generally well suited to small farmers' agriculture and activities are progressing well in many countries.

20. In Nepal, diversification under the SPFS consists of demonstrations in livestock and aquaculture. Livestock demonstrations have been going on since 1998 and farmers have been trained in livestock management, production and animal health (Village Animal Health Worker Training). Results in terms of improved management and production are encouraging. Aquaculture activities have progressed well. Seven ponds (1.73 ha of water surface area) produced three metric tons of fish. In addition, fish farming by women groups in Nawalparasi district has shown much impact on socio-economic changes: 284 participating women organized in 12 women fisheries groups produced five metric tons of fish from 12 ponds covering 2.64 ha and their total income was estimated at US$8 000. A total of 225 women were trained in fish farming.

21. In China, the diversification component involving livestock and fish/fruit demonstrations was implemented as of mid-1997. It involved 305 farming households, with 431 female workers in over nine villages in five counties. In two of the five counties, this component is carried out side by side with grain crop demonstrations of new varieties and technologies. These activities resulted in 1998 in the production of 3 462 meat rabbits, 251 goats, 324 fattening pigs, 805 meat chickens, 7 750 egg and meat ducks and 4 246 meat geese, and in the establishment of 7.21 ha of fish/fruit demonstration. Training was provided to 3 636 persons in the five counties from October 1997 to July 1998. The benefits derived from this component are in terms of improved nutrition and health, increased farm income, and improved skills to generate future income.

22. In Papua New Guinea, technical staff and groups of farmers have been trained in aquaculture and rabbit husbandry. Multiplication programmes are in place.

23. In Cambodia, vaccinations of poultry against Newcastle disease and treatment of pigs with antibiotics are carried out in order to decrease incidences of disease and mortality rates, which are very high. In six out of seven sites, significant decreases in mortality rates were noted during 1998 and 1999. The survival rate of chickens increased from 25 to 75 percent, while the mortality rate of pigs was reduced from 35 to 10 percent.

Constraints analysis

24. Analysis and removal of constraints at farmers' level is essential to facilitate the participatory development of concrete farming systems. Similarly, even though many countries in the region have been implementing structural reforms in order to create institutional and policy environment conducive to agricultural development, the wide replication of innovations successfully demonstrated on a limited scale normally requires the resolution of various types of upstream and downstream constraints. Ad hoc constraints analysis was carried out under the SPFS for the formulation of the first national programme documents.

25. Since 1997, however, participatory and multidisciplinary identification of constraints as well as ways to remove them constitutes a formal activity in the formulation and implementation of all country programmes. Important progress has been achieved, particularly at farmer and household levels. Work on constraints analysis at sectoral and macroeconomic levels still needs to be strengthened. Its crucial role as a requisite to launch Phase II of the SPFS must be better understood. Many countries are taking advantage of the extension of Phase I to new sites to expand constraints analysis.

Other results

26. Phase I is achieving a positive impact on training and institutional building at various levels. A considerable number of farmers (with a predominance of women and small farmers) and staff of public institutions and NGOs are being trained, through technological demonstrations, workshops and other dissemination events. The programme is also contributing to constructive dialogue and collaboration among farmers, farmers' associations, NGOs and the public sector, reversing past tendencies toward isolation or confrontation. National, regional and local steering committees with the capacity to manage food security programmes are gradually being established.


27. The SSC initiative was launched by the Director-General in 1996 within the framework of SPFS with the objective of allowing recipient countries to benefit from the expertise accumulated by more advanced developing countries. It means to provide a new impetus for cooperation among developing countries, whose cooperative efforts in the past were only partially successful due, among other factors, to the lack of foreign exchange needed to pay international transport and allowances, prepare feasibility studies and finance operational and other implementation costs. The SSC fills these gaps through a combination of FAO, bilateral and multilateral support to countries participating in the SPFS. It supplements the intrinsically shorter-term TCDC agreement.

28. The SSC consists of a combination of a few senior staff members and a substantial number of technicians with strong practical field experience in agriculture who are expected to work directly with farmers, during two to three years, in the rural communities involved in the programme. The teams are not only expected to introduce improved ways of bringing about sustainable and replicable agricultural development, but also, through their commitment and example, to serve as an important stimulus for change within the farming structures to which they are assigned. The number of experts and technicians required is determined on a case-by-case basis, but must achieve a critical mass, with site coverage representing all agro-ecological regions of the country. They are fielded in a phased manner and expected to play a key role in contributing to the implementation and extension of Phase I by the national teams.

29. Over 37 developing countries have expressed interest in providing support under the SSC scheme. A total of 188 experts and technicians from four Asian countries (Bangladesh, China, India and Vietnam) have been fielded to five countries in Africa, out of 240 fielded by the end of March 2000. Vietnam has been collaborating with Senegal since April 1997 with 100 experts and technicians working at field level. In Benin, 19 Vietnamese are already in place. A first group of 20 Chinese experts and technicians arrived in Mauritania in September 1999. Eight experts and technicians from Bangladesh arrived in Gambia in September 1999. In Eritrea, 23 Indian experts and technicians were fielded in late 1999 following the fielding of an advance planning team from India.

30. A number of countries in Asia and Africa have signed tripartite agreements with FAO, i.e. Ethiopia and China. Following the fielding of an advance team in 1998 and 1999, some 30 Chinese experts and technicians are expected to be fielded in Ethiopia soon and another 35 Chinese experts and technicians to Mali. Some 15 experts and technicians from China are expected to be fielded shortly in Bangladesh. Some 18 Vietnamese experts and technicians are expected to arrive in Madagascar in early 2000.

31. Under the SSC in Asia, the Philippines is due to provide assistance to Papua New Guinea, and Sri Lanka to Nepal. Thailand may also provide assistance to Myanmar and Cambodia, and Vietnam to Laos. Similarly, India has offered to provide assistance to Mongolia. Joint formulation missions are planned to the latter three countries.


Institutional framework and management

32. As a complex and decentralised programme, the SPFS requires well-established institutional structures both at FAO and in the participating countries. The latter have been assisted to set up mechanisms that facilitate the implementation of the SPFS and its full integration with the overall domestic rural institutional system and programmes, as well as with other specific programmes for food security. The recommended framework consists mainly of:

33. This institutional mechanism has been established in most countries where the SPFS has been under implementation since the second half of 1997. In some of them, however, the full institutional structure is not yet in place.

34. On the part of FAO, a management structure has been established consisting of the SPFS joint committee chaired by the Director-General, a policy committee and an implementation committee as well as a coordination and monitoring service (TCOS). As the top priority programme of the Organization, SPFS activities receive strong collaboration from practically all FAO technical and operational structures at headquarters and in decentralised offices. The programme also benefits from the advice of an external oversight panel, which meets yearly and from the reviews made by the senior field inspector and independent regional field inspectors. In addition, a considerable number of backstopping reports dealing with technical, operational and communication matters contribute to the implementation of the SPFS.

35. During the last two years, these reviews and reports have underlined inter alia three management issues. First, the implementation of the programme is being facilitated by a consistent (thought still incomplete) number of specialised FAO documents. These documents are published systematically in a handbook series composed of three separate volumes: Overview; Preparation and implementation of national programmes; and Management and international cooperation. Second, special efforts are still needed to share the SPFS concept and approaches with the various national authorities and donors as well as to ensure the programme's inclusion in and coordination with the regular national structures and its coordination with other food and agriculture programmes. Third, the FAO technical backstopping to the nationally owned programmes needs to be further enhanced, particularly with regard to the formulation of national programme documents, the implementation of the constraints analysis and the functioning of the monitoring and evaluation system.


36. The SPFS was initiated with modest FAO and recipient countries resources. This has affected the programme in two main ways: most national programmes started with a restricted structure, e.g. addressing few sites, areas and farmers, or leaving aside some of the four components of Phase I; and implementation had to be limited to a small number of countries. However, its gradual implementation has contributed to a better understanding of its concept and modalities by all the stakeholders and development partners. This has translated into increased interest and financial support on their part. In fact, together with the SSC, the partnership with donors and financial institutions has highly contributed to the expansion of the SPFS to new countries and to its extension within countries.

37. Trust fund donors are funding activities in 37 countries, six of which are in the Asia-Pacific region. UNDP is contributing in some 12 countries, two of which are in Asia. Specific memorandums of understanding have been signed with UNDP, the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the Islamic Development Bank, La Banque ouest-africaine de développement, IFAD, WFP and other institutions. Close collaboration has been established with the Asian Development Bank.

38. In Nepal, the World Bank is supporting the special programme through the National Irrigation Support Project, through which FAO is providing direct technical assistance services valued at US$1 157 787. In Bangladesh, the Bank is supporting the SPFS including financial support for the SSC with China (US$50 000). In DPR Korea, the Republic of Korea is supporting the SPFS under a trust fund arrangement with FAO amounting to US$500 000. Italy has indicated its willingness to support the SPFS in DPR Korea.

39. A three-year FAO technical assistance project in support of the SPFS, financed by the United Nations Fund for International Partnership with a budget of US$1 691 011 was approved in July 1999. The project is entitled Empowerment of women in irrigation and water resources management for improved household food security, nutrition and health. It is operational in Cambodia, Nepal and Zambia. The overall objective of the project is to ensure the sustainability of irrigation development and its positive impact on the food security and the nutritional state of the local population. The project will help empower women in the management of irrigation systems and water resources and will support them in diversifying and intensifying crop production and in introducing time-saving technologies to facilitate both their domestic and productive tasks.

40. UNDP is supporting the SPFS in India through a US$814 000 project to develop maize-based cropping systems, whereby FAO provides direct technical assistance services. UNDP also provided US$80 000 for the formulation by FAO of this programme.

41. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has approved a project in support of the SPFS to provide sport equipment valued at US$20 000 to Bangladesh, Samoa, Niger and Haiti (US$5 000 per country). The equipment will be disbursed during the first part of 2000, with the purpose to improve the health of rural youth through sport activities at the SPFS sites. This follows a similar project in 1999, when Cambodia, Burkina Faso, Tanzania and Ecuador received similar support from the IOC.

42. The International Fertiliser Association is providing fertilisers valued at US$150 000 to Cambodia, Eritrea, Tanzania, Mali and Ecuador (about US$30 000 each) in support of the SPFS in 2000. This comes under the International Fertiliser Assistance Scheme.


43. Good performance during the initial implementation of Phase I was the basis of the considerable extension of the activities taking place in many LIFDCs. The extension to additional farmers and sites covering at least the most representative agro-ecological regions and farming systems in order to ensure adequate fieldwork before launching Phase II was also recommended by the oversight panel in its third meeting held in March 1998. The extension is also intended to perform the required constraints analysis, an enhanced integration of access issues to the programme, some wide sectoral and subsectoral expansion of water control or other components or activities for which satisfactory Phase I activities have been achieved, and the networking of SPFS with other food security programmes being implemented by a country.

44. In the Asia-Pacific region, extension of the SPFS to additional sites has been formulated for China and Cambodia, and concrete proposals for donor funding have been prepared. FAO will also assist other governments in formulating the extension, as required.


45. Phase II is expected to be a country-driven process, expanding at national level the results of the previous phase. The focus of the programme, therefore, will shift from fieldwork in specific sites to the formulation and implementation of appropriate policies, investment programmes and bankable projects allowing the country to realize the agricultural development and food security potentialities identified during Phase I. Given the considerable efforts involved and the internal and external resources required, the launching of Phase II should be carefully prepared with the full participation of all national and international stakeholders. It should be based on satisfactory achievements of the previous phase.

46. The most essential of these achievements are:

47. As already seen, many countries are extending Phase I activities and some of them will soon be in a position to achieve the above-mentioned requisites to launch Phase II. FAO will continue to assist participating countries in these efforts, in particular for the preparation of national plans of action which will define the objectives, strategy and main policy instruments, as well as the investment programme and bankable projects required to implement Phase II. However, securing the required financing is to be undertaken by the governments concerned, through negotiations with possible donors and financial institutions, in which FAO can play a catalytic role.

1 These figures do not include those migrant workers located outside the region.