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close this bookCERES No. 122 (FAO Ceres, 1988, 50 p.)
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FAO in action


One of the principal objectives of Mexico's 1983-88 development plan is to improve the diet of its inhabitants and to earn foreign currency by increasing exports. In a country bordered by two oceans, the fishing industry can achieve both objectives simultaneously. With UNDP financing and FAO's technical aid, two projects were set up for a period of two and a half years starting from November 1987. The Mexican Government has contributed $Mex 1.2 billion and the UNDP US$ 800000. Operating costs amount to US$ 526 482.

The aim of the first project is to develop aquaculture by 30 per cent a year for a production of close to 800 000 metric tons in 1992. Five pilot centres and ten technical assistance centres will help to promote the adoption of more advanced technologies, particularly for shrimp production. The sectors to benefit from the new technologies are: nutrition, breeding physiology, biotechnological model development, water quality, and intensive production systems in the strictest hygienic conditions.

The second project will develop coastal and offshore fishing in order to take the greatest possible advantage of fishing resources in the Mexican exclusive economic zone. The objective is to increase the catch by 28.5 per cent a year and the fish-processing industry by 19.5 per cent a year. In addition to using improved trawling in shallow waters, the fishing industry has also introduced three new products obtained from seaweed as well as six new products for human consumption derived from sardines, mackerel, anchovies, and tuna.


One way to improve the way of life of landless peasants is to teach them to make handicrafts from local natural resources such as wood, stone, and clay. This is precisely what the Government of Zimbabwe is seeking to achieve with the help of FAO and with Swedish financing. After having gathered the views of 450 producers and district officials, the following decisions were taken:

- To coordinate at national and district levels the production and marketing of handicrafts and to involve the Department of National Parks;

- To collect socio-economic and technical data to determine the feasibility of certain measures regarding the production and marketing of handicrafts;

- To organize preparatory and continuing training courses in basketry.

This preparatory work, with funding of $102260 by the Swedish International Development Authority (SIDA), has led to a project that awaits financing.


Fuelwood is still one of the most important sources of energy for nearly half the world's population. But not everyone is aware that the use of fuelwood goes far beyond domestic energy needs and that a considerable amount is used in rural industrial activities.

The diversity of energy problems from one developing country to another makes it impossible to formulate a global solution applicable to all regions: each country has to be dealt with separately, and must be sufficiently well equipped to cope with the problem.

To achieve this aim, the Forestry Department of FAO, with the financial support of the Italian Government, organized an International Seminar on planning national programmes for wood-based energy from 26 October to 5 November 1 987, attended by 30 representatives from the energy sectors of Argentina, Benin, Brazil, China, the Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, Ghana, Honduras, Morocco, Nepal, Niger, Peru, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe. Representatives from ILO, EEC, Indonesia, Belgium, and Canada also attended the seminar.

The conclusions of the seminar deplore the lack of adequate planning, training schemes, research, financial commitment, legislation, institutions, and exchanges of experience and information. The recommendations are, of course, aimed at eliminating these shortcomings in a particularly sensitive sector that affects the day-to-day life of half the world's population.


In the member countries of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), small-scale fishermen barely manage to survive: the techniques they use are often outdated, as are their equipment and their notions of trade. Their financial capabilities are negligible. To improve these conditions, with UNDP funding and with the technical collaboration of FAO, ASEAN has set up a project to develop small-scale regional coastal fisheries. The project became operational on 5 October 1985 as a preparatory phase and entered into its main phase in June 1987.

The immediate objectives of the project are: to maximize intercountry cooperation among ASEAN countries by establishing an institutional linkage of fisheries departments; to identify different types of small-scale fisheries activities that are feasible in coastal areas; to formulate small-scale fisheries projects and identify possible sources of financial and technical support; and finally, to undertake training at all levels.

In order to achieve these objectives, to carry out the appropriate studies, make the required connections, and organize projects, the ASEAN Fisheries Development Centre is to be based in Bangkok, Thailand. Sub-centres will be established in the ASEAN participating countries. Some studies have already been successfully completed, projects proposed, study tours organized and reports published. The Centre's library holds more than 13000 publications, including periodicals.


FAO has made forecasts for the worldwide demand and supply of fertilizers up to 1991-92 based on statistics gathered from its member countries. The demand for each fertilizer element (nitrogen, phosphate, and potassium) in market-economy developed countries will not regain its 1985-86 level until about 1990-91. In other types of economy, the demand is expected to increase considerably during the period covered by the forecasts at a higher average rate of growth in developing countries with a market economy than in countries with a centrally planned economy.

Detailed forecasts are given for each element (N, P, and K). The nitrogen supply should be fairly evenly distributed over the period considered for developed countries with a market economy, the demand increasing by about one million tons in developing countries with a market economy, of which 60 per cent will be in the Far East, 30 per cent in Latin America, and 10 per cent in Africa and the Near East. The world's surplus production of nitrogen fertilizers will remain acceptable up to 1989-90, the USSR and eastern Europe having by far the greatest export potential.

The bulk of the phosphate supply continues to be concentrated in North America, Tunisia, and Morocco. The demand will continue to increase in developing countries with a market economy, but since consumption will drop in industrialized countries, there will still be conspicuous exportable surpluses in North America and Africa.

Potassium is no exception to the general decline in demand which is expected to drop by about 1.5 million tons of K2O, equivalent to 6 per cent of the consumption for 1985-86. In this situation it was necessary to reduce the production capacity slightly.

Overall, it appears that the role of developing countries with a market economy in both the production and consumption of nitrogen and phosphate fertilizers increased noticeably between 1971-72 and 1985-86, and that this trend will continue in the future; but these countries will have to import almost all their potassium supplies until 1991 -92 and beyond.