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close this bookCERES No. 093 - May - June 1983 (FAO Ceres, 1983, 50 p.)
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Open this folder and view contentsCerescope
View the documentFAO in action
View the documentPopular participation in rural development
View the documentDevelopment is not a politically neutral task
View the documentThe right kind of support.
View the documentThe northern partners
View the documentWhose fell needs?
View the document''We’re not talking about revolution but about changing the rules''
View the documentRethinking agricultural development

FAO in action


A new, broader concept of food security has won approval from the FAO statutory body responsible for food security matters. At its 8th session last April, the 97-Member Committee on Food Security endorsed the concept formulated in a report presented to it by FAO Director-General Edouard Saouma. (See Ceres, March-April 1983, page 13.) 'Food security," the report states, "should have three specific aims, namely ensuring production of adequate food supplies: maximizing stability in the flow of supplies and securing access to available supplies on the part of those who need them." The (Committee agreed with the Director-General on the need for national measures backed up by regional and global arrangements and through FAO to achieve world food security. The Committee confirmed its own role as ''the only intergovernmental body in the UN system exclusively charged with monitoring, evaluating and consulting on the world food security situation.'' It concurred with the need for closer cooperation among all international organizations dealing with food security problems. Some of the report's proposals that were of a preliminary nature will be followed up at subsequent sessions.


A proposal for a 10-year, $83 million pan-African campaign against rinderpest, an acutely fatal disease of ruminants which is presently striking hard at livestock in 11 countries, will be placed before a donors' meeting in Brussels in early June. The campaign, which would be carried out as a joint activity of FAO, the European Economic Community (EEC), the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and the Office International des Epizooties (OIE) would cover 28 countries and involve I20 million head of cattle. At a meeting in Rome last April of representatives of these and other concerned organizations, FAO reported that serious outbreaks of rinderpest have recently been detected in Mali, Upper Volta, Ghana, Benin, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia and Tanzania. The situation was especially grave in the Sudan, where 30 000 cattle were estimated to have died last year, in Nigeria where 152 outbreaks were reported up to March 1983, and in southern Chad. A previous multidonor campaign in the 1960s had markedly reduced incidence of the disease, but did not succeed in eradicating it, and a significant resurgence occurred in 1980. Since then, FAO has provided about $1.6 million to support national emergency campaigns in 15 African countries.


FAO Director-General Edouard Saouma said that the resurgence of rinderpest was one element in Africa's food problem that led him to create a special FAO/WFP Task Force to review the food supply situation and monitor systematically the production of staple foods in a number of African countries for the crop years 1982-83 and 1983-84. In order to meet basic food requirements in 1982-83. 17 countries with a total population of 118 million may have to increase their cereal imports, either on commercial terms or through food aid, to 4.1 million tons, which is more than a million tons above the import level of the previous year.


In its first cereal forecast for 1983, FAO's monthly 'Food Outlook" report predicted a drop in world coarse grain production from last year's record 806 million tons to somewhere between 715 and 775 million tons, mainly due to reduced US plantings. The estimate for world wheat production was put in the range of from 430 million to 485 million tons compared with the 477 million tons produced last year. World cereal stocks at the end of the 198'/83 season were expected to increase to 329 trillion tons, 54 million tons more than at the end of the previous crop year, with virtually all of the increase in the United States. But these relatively abundant supplies, the report noted. ''mask the deteriorating food supply situation in a number of low-income food deficit countries," especially in parts of Africa where drought continues.


FAO's Investment Centre activities increased considerably during 1982, resulting in total investments of $2 538 million in 48 Centre-assisted projects, compared with $2 070 million in 44 projects during the previous year. General agricultural development and irrigation and drainage projects accounted for about two-thirds of the total outlay. In 1982 the Centre was involved in identifying or preparing 131 projects in 67 countries. The 498 projects in which the Centre has been involved since its founding in 1966 now represent a total investment of more than $22 000 million.


Two concepts increasingly discussed in international development circles the greater involvement of national institutions in technical assistance programmes and technical cooperation between developing countries are getting some practical exposure in an FAO/ UNDP forestry project in Chile. The project's wide-ranging activities have included the elaboration of a national forestry research programme, preparation of a continuous natural inventory model, evaluation and promotion of improved forest plantation practices, economic analyses of forest reserves, the study of supply and demand trends for forest products, and national parks management. During the past four years practically all project activities have been undertaken by national institutions; FAO provides only technical and operational back stopping and coordination. Forestry research in the country has been stimulated through 24 subcontracts totaling almost US $750 000 that FAO issued to national institutions. Postgraduate fellowships and study tours have enabled 100 Chilean forestry specialists to acquaint themselves with latest forestry practices abroad. Chilean forestry experts are now contributing actively to forest-based development in the rest of Latin America and in Africa.


The introduction of early-maturing varieties of rice well adapted to the ecoclimatic conditions of the middle Senegal valley in Mauritania is beginning to pay off in yield increases. When combined with improved cultural techniques the new varieties have achieved yields of 5.5 to 6.0 tons per ha. Among practices that can make a significant difference in yield: delays in replanting beyond 25 days after seeding can reduce yields per ha in the order of 200 kg per day. Closer planting (0.15 x 0.15 m rather than 0.25 x 0.25 m) can improve yields by 700 kg per ha. Other aims of this applied research project, in which FAO/UNDP are providing technical assistance to Mauritania's National Centre for Agronomic Research and Agricultural Development (CNRADA), include feasibility studies on double and triple cropping both for rice alone and with other cereals, low-cost protection against disease, pests and weeds, small- and intermediate-scale mechanization, and postharvest technology.