|CERES No. 097 - January - February 1984 (FAO Ceres, 1984, 50 p.)|
AID REQUIREMENTS FOR AFRICA INCREASE
At least 1.6 million tons of food aid and almost $100 million for agricultural assistance is needed to help 24 African countries meet their most immediate needs in the continent's persisting food crisis. That was the outlook presented in late January in the third situation report of the Special FAP/WFP Task Force on Africa. Confirming its warning of last October of a sharp decline in cereal production in the affected areas (see Cerescope, Nov./Dec. 1983, p.3), the Task Force added two more countries Guinea Bissau and Upper Volta to the previous list of 22 affected states. For the 24 countries as a whole, 1983 cereal production is estimated at 16.2 million tons, compared with 19.7 million tons in 1981. Total cereal import requirements of the 24 countries are currently estimated at 5.3 million tons, of which 3.4 million tons would have to be supplied through food aid shipments. Food aid pledges as of mid-January were 1.75 million tons.
COMMON POLICY FOR CEREALS URGED
A common cereals policy could help Sahelian Zone countries to counteract food deficit problems, FAO Director-General Edouard Saouma suggested in an address to the Sixth Summit Conference of Heads of State and Government of the Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahelian Zone (CILSS). In the long term, such a policy should stimulate trade between countries in the zone and prevent cereals being drawn away from the zone to more affluent nations to the south. Mr. Saouma recalled that an FAO feasibility study on national and regional security stocks of cereals in the Sahel, prepared at the request of CILSS, had envisaged the establishment of a Regional Cereal Division that would coordinate the use of stocks in an emergency, to avoid intra-state competition in the regional cereals market and to ensure full exchange of information. Mr. Saouma also urged an immediate increase in training to develop irrigation in the drier parts of the region. Large dams now under construction in the Senegal Valley would permit irrigation of 140 000 hectares, but the preparation of farmers should not wait until the construction is finished, Mr. Saouma said.
COARSE GRAINS STOCKS DECLINING SHARPLY
World stocks of cereals at the end of the 1983-84 crop year will be 20 per cent below the previous year-end level according to forecasts by FAO's monthly food outlook report. At an estimated 255 million tons, stocks would represent only 16 per cent of expected utilization in 1984-85 and would be below the level that the FAO Secretariat considers to be the minimum required for world food security. Most of this decline would be in stocks of coarse grains, which are expected to fall by 76 million tons to 83 million tons, their lowest level in eight years. Rice stocks are expected to decline slightly, while wheat stocks are expected to increase by 10 million tons to a record 130 million tons.
NIGER STRENGTHENS STATISTICAL SERVICES
In the struggle to counteract the effects of the prolonged Sahelian drought, the government of Niger has been confronted by one particularly critical weakness: the absence of reliable statistics concerning its agricultural sector which provides livelihood for 80 per cent of the nation's five million population. Without any previous census to provide baseline data for agriculture, it was impossible to make any precise evaluation of the overall damage suffered by the agricultural sector. For the past five years, however, helped by an FAO/UNDP technical assistance project, Niger has been trying to remedy the situation. A primary objective of the project, launched in 1979, has been the training of personnel to strengthen the agricultural statistics service within the Ministry of Rural Development. Also included in the training programme was instruction for field workers who would collect census information and carry out surveys. The first major task for the strengthened service was an agricultural census carried out during 1980-81 in conformity with FAO's world agricultural census programme. Although the country's vast area did not permit an exhaustive census, some 200 survey workers completed questionnaires for villages and agricultural holdings and were able to calculate the amount of arable land devoted to each crop. Results were due to be published at the beginning of this year and should significantly help government services in both short- and long-term planning for the development of agriculture.
RWANDA PROMOTES SMALL LIVESTOCK
Small animal husbandry is receiving increasing attention in Rwanda as the government seeks to intensify agricultural production to meet the food requirements of a population that has been growing at a rate of 3.7 per cent annually. A five-year-old FAO/UNDP project, recently extended to 1986, has been helping to develop the institutional framework to support small-scale livestock production through its work with regional centres at Kabuye, Ruhengeri, Butare, and Cyangugu. Extension, marketing, and home economics services are provided to a growing number of rural families. The extension service has been engaged in the distribution of breeding stock, averaging some 400 hogs, 500 rabbits, and 25 000 poultry annually. Some 10 tons of products are sold through the marketing service each month. Through the home economics service, peasant women are learning how to make best use of the byproducts of small animal husbandry as well as traditional methods of conserving products. A principal objective of the extended project is that it become financially self-supporting by 1986.
NEW COURSE FOSTERS EXPERTISE IN SILK
With a growing number of countries seeking to introduce or improve silk production in their agricultural sectors, FAO/UNDP in cooperation with the People's Republic of China has launched a training programme at the newly established Regional Sericulture Training Centre at the South China Agricultural College at Changzhou. The first 11 graduates of the 200-day training course, representing seven countries in Asia and the Near East, received their certificates last year. By the end of this year it is expected that the course will have produced a total of 45 graduates who will have a leading role in silk industry development in their own countries.
INTEGRATED APPROACH FOR NORTHERN TOGO
Nearly a decade of multidonor, interagency cooperation in a complex integrated planning and development project in northern Togo has begun to yield dividends in a much-cherished form: the assumption of management responsibilities for the project by Togolese nationals and a significant reduction in the number of expatriate experts required. Originally launched in 1975 to reduce food deficits and improve living standards of rural populations in the area, the project has been supported by a number of international agencies including FAO, ILO, UNICEF, UNDP, and the German voluntary agency, Misereor. Among the project's major activities have been the introduction of new crop varieties and rotations, the promotion of mechanization dependent on animal traction, the construction of a network of roads and replanting of deforested areas, the building of warehouses for storing produce and supplies, and the opening of rural medical centres.
CONSERVATION SKILLS TAUGHT IN ETHIOPIA
An intensive programme of in-service training, supported by seminars, fellowships, and study tours is helping Ethiopia to develop the technical manpower required to tackle the country's critical problem of land degradation. Thus far, the FAO/UNDP project has trained 200 professionals, 550 rural development agents, and 1 200 Peasant Association leaders. The project has also provided technical assistance to the mammoth World Food Programme food-for-work project through which Peasant Association members are providing the labour force to carry out reforestation, soil and water conservation activities.
NEW PROJECTS MOUNTED FOR FOOD SECURITY
Donor contributions totalling more than $2.5 million provided financing for eight new projects under FAO's Food Security Assistance Scheme (FSAS) during 1983. It was the lowest annual income for the scheme since it began operations in 1976. At present there are 38 projects in operation representing a total value of $33.1 million. Another 31 projects, worth $17.4 million, have been completed. Seventeen projects, worth $16.5 million, are in the pipeline awaiting donor financing. The Scheme increased its activities in Latin America during 1983, but Africa remains the principal area of operations.