The Agriculture Agencies: Objectives and Performance

AuthorFrank Shefrin
Publication Date01 Jun 1980
DOI10.1177/002070208003500204
SubjectThe UN Galaxy
FRANK
SHEFRIN
The
agriculture
agencies:
objectives
and
performance
How well
have
the
international
agencies
involved in
food
and
agriculture
performed
the
tasks
for which
they
were
created?
What
changes
are
required,
if
any,
in
the
operations
of these
agencies
to
improve
their
performance,
and
to
adapt
more
readily
to
the
chang-
ing
tasks?
The
world
of
198o
is
different
from
the world
of
1945-50.
The
overall
objectives
of
the
food
and
agriculture
agencies,
as
approved
by
member
nations
thirty-five
years
ago,
remain
basically
the
same,
but
the
tasks
of
these
organizations
are
changing.
There
has
been
a
marked
increase in
the
number
of
members
in
the various
agen-
cies,
and
these
countries
are
largely
developing
nations.'
There
are
many
more
international
agencies,
and
many
have
been
reorgan-
ized
on
more
than
one
occasion
to
help
them
remain
effective.
There
has
been
a
substantial
increase
in
the
technical
and
capital
resources
available
to these agencies to
use
in
implementing
the
agriculture
and
food
objectives
of
the
United
Nations
system.
There
is
no developing
country
which
has
not
been
visited
by
an
expert or
by
teams
of
experts.
More
experts
are
working
for
these
agencies
than
ever
before,
and
more
international
meetings
are
being held
than
ever
before.
More
buildings
are
being
built
to
The
author
has recently
retired
from
Canada's
Department
of
Agriculture.
For
over
three
decades
he
was
deeply involved
with
the
international
agricultural
agencies,
serving
on
Canadian
delegations
to
the
FAO,
the
WFP,
and
the
OEcD
Com-
mittee
on
Agriculture and
chairing
a
variety
of
agency
committees
and
governing
bodies.
i
The
membership
of
the
Food
and Agriculture
Organization
(rAo)
increased
from
42
in
1945
to
147
in
1979.
Of
this
total,
i19
can
be classified
as
developing
countries.
264
INTERNATIONAL
JOURNAL
house
the rapidly
expanding
international
civil
service
and
to
host
the
ever-growing
number
of
meetings.
2
Third
World
countries
are
articulating
more
sharply
their
views
about
what
should
be
done
to
attain
the
agricultural
objectives
spelled
out
by
the
United
Na-
tions
system.
Yet
today
there
are more
hungry
people,
more
rural
poor,
and
more
unemployed.
The
developing countries
are
becoming
less,
rather than
more,
self-reliant
in
food
production,
even
though
agricultural
production
in
these
countries
has
been increasing.
Their
food
import requirements
are
increasing at
an
alarming
rate.
Why
the
bleak picture?
Have
the
agencies
not
performed
well?
Have
both
the
developed
and
developing
countries
failed
to
give
them
the
tools
necessary
to
do
the
job
effectively?
This
paper
will
trace
briefly
the developments
and
changes
over
the
past
thirty-five
years
in
the activities
of
the
major
international
agencies
involved,
in
whole
or
in
part,
with
agriculture
and
food.
Any
assessment
of
the work
of
these
agencies
must
take
into
account
not
only
the
relationship
of
agency
activities
to
needs
and
past
ex-
periences
and
results,
but
also
the
role
of
member nations
in
gov-
erning
the
agency,
the
relationship
between
member
governments
and the
secretariat,
and
the
diversity
of views
among
member
governments.
The
secretariat
of
an
agency,
under
the leadership
of
its
head,
3
shapes
the
programme
and determines
the
day-to-day
operations,
but
the
governing
body
-
the
member nations
-
must
approve
the
policies,
the
programme, and
the
budget.
The
successful
per-
formance
of
an
agency
thus depends
on
the
ability
of
these
two
groups
to
work
together
in
harmony.
The
fact
that
international
agencies
have
continued
to
operate
for many
years,
and
that
new
ones
have
been
created,
indicates
that
there
has
been
the
necessary
2
The
experience
of
the
FAO
is
representative.
Between
1952
and
1979
the
staff
in-
creased
more
than
tenfold.
In
1978-9
it
produced
483
million
pages
of
documents
in
5
languages.
It
convened
261
meetings
in
those
two
years.
3
The
powers
of
a
head
of
an
agency
are often
very
broad.
For
example,
article
vii
of
the
FAO
constitution
states
that
'subject
to
the
general
supervision
of
the
Conference
and the
Council, the
Director-General
shall
have
full
power
and
au-
thority
to
direct the
work of
the
Organization.'

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