- 1975 - 1978 (Creation)
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The Consultative Group on Food Production and Investment in Developing Countries (CGFPI) was one of four bodies established by the 1974 World Food Conference. The International Fund for Agricultural Development, the World Food Council, and the Committee on World Food Security were also organized on the basis of Conference recommendations, and CGFPI immediately needed to define its role in this new panoply of agricultural agencies. The World Food Conference requested the Food and Agriculture Organization, the United Nations Development Program, and the World Bank to organize the CGFPI with the mandate "to increase, coordinate and improve the efficiency of financial and technical assistance to agricultural production in developing countries." The resolution specified that membership should consist of "bilateral and multilateral donors and representatives of developing countries."
On January 10, 1975, the heads of the three sponsoring agencies met with the Secretary-General of the United Nations and agreed that the offices of the Chairman and the Executive Secretary of CGFPI would be located in the World Bank. Edwin M. Martin was named the Chairman, and each of the three agencies agreed to assign one or two staff members to the Secretariat. In March 1975, Moise C. Mensah was named the Executive Secretary.
The Group held its first general meeting in July 1975. However, by its Seventh Session in September of 1975, the United Nations General Assembly, spurred by the lobbying of lesser developed food exporting countries such as Brazil and Argentina, changed the CGFPI mandate. The revised mandate required the Group to "quickly identify developing countries with potentials for most rapid and efficient increase in food production, as well as the potential for rapid agricultural expansion in other developing countries, especially the countries with food deficits."
The Group held four general meetings on the following dates: July 21-23, 1975; February 10-12, 1976; September 22-24, 1976; and September 7-9, 1977. CGFPI was a purely consultative body, with no ability to supply or raise funds. Some of its work included commission studies of regional investment arrangements for fertilizer production and of food production in the Gangetic Plain and the Senegal River Basin. Its central idea and most lasting contribution, however, was their preparation of an outline for a national food plan, defined as "a document that would focus the attention of the Group on needs to be met in a specific country as far as food supply and related investments are concerned." The Group then helped several countries draft such plans, demonstrating the potential of this assessment tool.
The three sponsors of the Group agreed to assess its progress each year. In April 1976, the first assessment expressed doubts that there was a "unique role" for CGFPI among all the other food and agricultural organizations, not the least of which were those managed by the three sponsoring agencies. The doubts increased, and in February 1978 the sponsors decided that the Group should be disbanded. The Chairman left immediately thereafter, and the Group dissolved in June 1978.
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The records of the Consultative Group are of three types: the records of the four meetings of the Group, the correspondence of the secretariat, and the files on the projects sponsored by the Group.
Read together, the records of the meetings and the correspondence provide a miniature study of the difficulties of international cooperation in the middle of the Cold War. The Consultative Group was organized by the World Bank, the Food and Agriculture Organization, and the United Nations Development Program, each of whom had a slightly different view of the mission of the Group. Shortly after the Group began its work, the United Nations slightly changed the charge to the Group; the United States, which had been the original sponsor of the idea of a Consultative Group, grew disenchanted; the Soviet bloc nations were not represented on the Group; uncertainly over the intentions of the OPEC nations in supporting food production grew; while tensions between food importing nations and food exporting nations hovered over debates. Add to this an injunction to the secretariat to coordinate but not to operate programs, all the while serving three masters at once, and the Group was probably doomed from the start. All of these topics can be researched in the records.
The project files are primarily those of national food plans. The Group's principal effort was to assess the food needs to be met in a specific country as far as food supply and related investments are concerned. It worked out a model for a national food plan, and plans were attempted by Bangladesh, Haiti, Honduras, Senegal, Sudan, and Upper Volta. Any researcher interested in the history of food production and consumption in those countries will find a baseline in these files. In addition, the Group commissioned a report on water resources development in the Narmada River basin of India for irrigation agriculture, and the report is in the files.
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