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close this bookCERES No. 096 - November - December 1983 (FAO Ceres, 1983, 50 p.)
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Open this folder and view contentsCerescope
View the documentThe twentieth anniversary of the World Food Programme
View the documentFAO in action
View the documentLand use and living space
View the documentUnconventional livestock
View the documentIntroducing the ox

FAO in action


The 22nd FAO Conference, meeting in Rome in November, adopted an International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources (see Cerescope July-Aug. 1983, p.3) which aims to ensure that "plant genetic resources of economic and/or social interest, particularly for agriculture, will be explored, preserved, evaluated and made available for plant breeding and scientific purposes." The Undertaking, which is open to all countries, is "based on the universally accepted principle that plant genetic resources are a heritage of mankind and consequently should be available without restriction." The Undertaking will seek to facilitate the exchange of genetic material, to promote international cooperation in the preservation, evaluation, and documentation of plant genetic resources, and to establish an internationally coordinated network of national, regional and international centres, including a network of base collections of gene banks under the auspices or jurisdiction of FAO. It also provided for the establishment by the FAO Council of a new FAO Commission on Plant Genetic Resources.


The Conference unanimously approved the Programme of Work and Budget for the coming two years as presented by FAO Director-General Edouard Saouma. The Conference noted in its report that the new biennial budget of $421 million, based on a rate of 1 615 Italian fire to the US dollar, provided for "a modest but well-timed net increase of 3.6 per cent in resources for the Organization's technical and economic programmes of direct developmental impact, while limiting the overall net programme growth to only 0.5 per cent. "This modest increase"', the report added, "was only made possible by further reducing administrative and support services costs to a minimum level, and by a further elimination of some established posts, while still allowing for a timely and effective delivery of programmes." It authorized the FAO Council to empower the Director-General to draw, if necessary, on the Organization's cash surplus should there be a shortfall in contributions.


The Conference, attended by nearly 1 000 delegates, including 110 of ministerial rank, admitted four new states to FAO membership: Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Saint Christopher and Nevis, and Vanuatu. Membership now stands at 156 countries.


The FAO World Conference on Fisheries Management and Development, scheduled for June/July 1984, will have placed before it the basic elements of a strategy for fisheries management and development as well as a number of suggested action programmes. These proposals were defined by an October meeting of the FAO Committee on Fisheries which served as the technical phase of next year's conference. The basic strategy elements include: the contribution of fisheries to national, economic, social, and nutritional goals; principles and practices for rational management and optimum use of fish resources; the special role and needs of small-scale fisheries and rural fishing and farming communities; improved national self-reliance in fisheries management and development; economic and technical cooperation in fisheries development; financial support for investment in fisheries management and development; international trade in fish and fishery products; international cooperation in fisheries research, training, management, and development.


The most recent FAO Food Outlook report forecasts 1983 world cereal production at 1 605 million tons, or about 100 million tons below 1982 production. By the end of the 1983-1984 season, world cereal stocks are expected to fall to 262 million tons, 20 per cent below their end-1982-83 level.


A four-man statistical mission from FAO has been providing technical advice and training to assist China in the preparation of its first agricultural census. Under auspices of FAO's Technical Cooperation Programme, the mission last summer visited communes, brigades and state farms, as well as provincial and county statistical offices to study the present system of data collection. Among the most serious constraints China's first census will face are inadequate computer facilities for data processing and analysis, shortage of trained statistical personnel and inadequate transport and equipment for field work. The mission also found that China's new production responsibility system, in which individual households assume an important role, has resulted in a number of new problems in the collection of agricultural statistics.


Small-holders in eight districts of western Kenya have been reporting significant increases in milk production since they began using selected high-yielding pasture and fodder species introduced under the auspices of a FAO/UNDP project at Kitale. These "pre-extension" demonstration areas have confirmed results of project tests indicating that production can be increased substantially both in the intensive farming systems of high and medium potential areas and in the extensive farming systems of low potential areas. The conversion of former forage and grazing lands to staple food or cash crop production combined with growing domestic demand for both meat and milk products has exacerbated Kenya's traditional problem of finding sufficient livestock feed during the dry season, when milk output sometimes drops by as much as 60 per cent. Cooperating farmers have reported production increases in the growing season in the range of 30 to 60 per cent which have been more or less sustained during the dry period. Last year the project began successful pre-extension trials with women's associations in Kitale and Kissi districts. Future plans call for courses at farmers' training centres and the use of video recording to improve cooperation among farmers, extension officers, and researchers


Two chronic problems of the Cape Verde islands, soil erosion and unemployment, are being countered through an FAO forestry development and reforestation project supported financially by the Belgian Government. In the course of its first five years, the project has successfully reforested more than 4 000 hectares. A second phase of the project, due to begin next year. will cover another 4 000 hectares. providing employment for some 1 200 persons on average.


Efforts by the Indonesian Government to improve incomes and living conditions for small-holders as well as to increase the production of secondary food crops other than rice are being assisted by an FAO fertilizer demonstration project that has already achieved significant yield increases for maize, groundnuts, soybeans, and cassava. Project activities are concentrated in the highly populated province of West Java and in various main islands where agro-ecological conditions do not permit growing irrigated crops on a large scale. During the first three years of the project, a total of 3 500 trials were carried out in farmers' fields to determine the most economically viable fertilizer recommendations, as well as other appropriate cropping practices. With the field trials being used as demonstration plots, more than 3 000 field days were held, attracting more than 40 000 farmers. The project. supported by Belgian funding, is now in its second phase, concentrating on sustained adoption by farmers of the recommended practices. This is mainly done by block demonstrations whereby farmers' groups, under their traditional leadership, apply recommended practices with intensive assistance from extension workers. All inputs required for a year's cropping sequence are provided by the project. Participating farmers reimburse the value of the inputs into a group account established with the closest branch of the Agricultural Development Bank. The reimbursed amount then serves as a revolving fund for the purchase of inputs in subsequent years.