PC 90/5

Programme Committee

Ninetieth Session

15-19 September 2003

Policy and Operational Framework of the Technical
Cooperation Programme

Table of Contents

Appendix 2: Diagram of the Springboard Effects of a TCP Project in Western Africa

Executive Summary

1. This paper: (i) provides an overview of nature, purpose and modus operandi of the Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP); (ii) reviews the use and allocation of its financial resources and (iii) discusses the activities financed and their evolution in response to emerging global needs.

2. The TCP was launched in 1976 to make FAO's specialized competence more readily available to member countries for the solution of their most pressing development problems in the agriculture, fisheries and forestry sectors as well as to address related rural development and socio-economic issues.

3. The TCP contributes to one of FAO’s key constitutional functions, i.e. “to furnish such technical assistance as governments may request”. It is an integral part of the Organization’s Regular Programme, financed from the assessed budget.

4. The TCP is the instrument that enables FAO to respond rapidly to urgent needs for technical and emergency assistance in member countries and to contribute to their capacity building. The programme is closely associated with other normative and field activities of the Organization. It contributes in its own right to major Regular Programme objectives.

5. The main features of the Programme are its unprogrammed nature; its responsiveness to emergent technical issues and problems; the focus of its projects on clearly defined objectives, which can be attained within a short time horizon; its relatively low operational costs and its catalytic role. The maximum duration of a TCP project is 24 months and its budgetary ceiling is US$ 400,000. By design and in practice, TCP meets unforeseen needs, fills critical gaps and complements other forms of assistance.

6. Since 1976 until the end of 2002, 7 433 projects have been approved under the TCP, for a total amount of US$ 928 million. Analyses of TCP allocations by region, by project category and by FAO’s Major Programmes demonstrate the versatility of the programme in responding to developing member countries’ evolving requirements for assistance. What is particularly evident is the role that the TCP continues to play in enabling member countries to address the challenges posed by an increasingly globalized and liberalized international environment in respect of the international conventions, protocols and agreements regulating the safe production, processing and trade of quality agricultural products and materials as well as the protection of the environment.

I. Introduction

7. The Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP) was launched in 1976 to make FAO's specialized competence more readily available to member countries for the solution of their most pressing development problems in the agriculture, fisheries and forestry sectors, and in relation to rural development and socio-economic issues.

8. Through TCP, FAO allocates limited, but identifiable and assured, resources in ways which contribute to the fulfillment of one of its key constitutional functions, i.e. “to furnish such technical assistance as governments may request”. It is an integral part of the Organization’s Regular Programme, financed from the assessed budget. In particular, the TCP is an instrument that enables FAO to respond rapidly to urgent needs for technical and emergency assistance in member countries and, at the same time, to contribute to building national institutional capacities. The programme is closely associated with other normative and field activities of the Organization. It contributes in its own right to the achievement of major Regular Programme objectives.

9. This paper provides an overview of the policy and operational framework of the TCP, including its nature, purpose and modus operandi; reviews the use and allocation of its financial resources; and discusses the activities financed and their evolution in response to emerging needs.

II. Programme Nature and Purpose

10. By nature, TCP is unprogrammed with the intent that it should respond to urgent and unforeseen demands, as articulated in requests for assistance received from member countries. The main features of the Programme are its flexibility in responding to new technical issues and problems as well as emergencies; the focus of projects on clearly defined objectives which can be attained within a short time horizon; and its relatively low operational costs and its catalytic role. By design and in practice, TCP meets unforeseen needs, fills critical gaps, complements other forms of assistance and creates conditions for expanded resource availability for technical cooperation and investment, whether channelled through FAO or otherwise.

11. The programme is focused on increasing production in agriculture, fisheries and forestry, and on raising the income and nutritional standards of small farmers and rural workers. It gives priority to the Least Developed Countries (LDC), to the Low Income Food Deficit countries (LIFDC) and to projects which benefit small-scale producers and workers.

12. TCP assistance addresses immediate and specific problems or needs in a particular sector or area, involving practical action with well-defined objectives and expected results.

13. The TCP responds to high priority demands of requesting governments, which are expected to participate fully in project execution, through the involvement of national institutions, personnel and resources, as well as to assume responsibility for follow-up action for ensuring the sustainability of activities after FAO support has been concluded. TCP projects are thus government-owned projects.

14. TCP projects are limited in duration and cost: the maximum duration of a project is 24 months and its budgetary ceiling is US$ 400,000.

15. The criteria governing the nature and types of assistance that can be rendered under TCP, as set up by FAO governing bodies, are detailed in Appendix 1.

16. TCP assistance is granted through seven main projects categories: Training (T); Advisory services (A); Emergencies (E); Investment (I); Formulation and programming missions (F); Intercountry cooperation (C); and Assistance to development (D). These are detailed and further elaborated in Chapter V.A. of this document.

III. Management of the Programme


17. Requests for technical assistance under the TCP may be presented by governments of FAO member countries that qualify for development assistance under the UN system and by intergovernmental organizations1 of which such countries are members and are recognized as such by the UN system and FAO. They may also be submitted by national non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and national institutions or associations (including non-governmental institutions, national foundations, cooperatives, unions and other private organizations) if endorsed by the government concerned. Requests for TCP cooperation are addressed to the Director-General of FAO. The Assistant Director-General of the Technical Cooperation Department may receive requests on behalf of the Director-General. In those countries where FAO has an accredited representative, the requests should normally be channeled through him/her2.

18. The TCP is managed and coordinated by the Technical Cooperation Programme Service (TCOT), in the Field Operations Division (TCO), which reports to the Assistant Director-General of the Technical Cooperation Department (ADG, TC)3. TCOT coordinates the Organization's response to incoming requests for TCP assistance and oversees the process through which these requests are reviewed and appraised for eligibility under the Programme. All requests are subject to this appraisal process, thereby ensuring consistency and transparency in the approach. More specifically, such appraisals aim at ensuring that:

19. The concerned FAO Representative, the technical and operating officers at the FAO Regional or Sub-regional Offices and the technical units concerned at FAO Headquarters participate in the review and appraisal process.

20. If a request for assistance cannot be approved because of non-compliance with appraisal criteria or doubts over its technical and operational feasibility, the government is informed by the Assistant Director-General, Technical Cooperation Department.

21. If the results of the appraisal process confirm the potential eligibility of the request for TCP assistance, the FAO Lead Technical Unit (LTU) assigned responsibility for the request proceeds, in consultation with the government and other FAO Services concerned, with the formulation or revision of a project proposal, in compliance with the TCP criteria and guidelines. In exceptional cases, when formulation assistance cannot be provided by the FAO Representative, missions may be authorized for project formulation with advance funding from the proposed TCP project.

22. Prior to their submission for approval, all non-emergency TCP projects are reviewed by the Project and Programme Review Committee (PPRC), composed of representatives from all FAO Departments, to ensure synergy with other components of the field programme and with the Organization’s goals and policies.

23. Authority for project approval rests with the Director-General, who may delegate it to a senior official of the Organization (normally the ADG, TC).

24. TCP projects are covered by a project agreement which must be approved and signed by both the government and the Director-General of FAO or his Representative. The following TCP projects modalities were established in recent years, with a view to enable rapid and focused responses to small-scale Government requests, provided the TCP criteria are met:

25. TCP projects are implemented jointly by FAO and the national counterpart institution or cooperating agency designated by the requesting government (or intergovernmental organization). The latter provides on a full-time basis the technical and administrative personnel, in addition to other local facilities and resources, necessary for ensuring the effectiveness and continuity of the work of project personnel recruited by FAO. For relatively “complex” or inter-institutional projects, the establishment of a Project Steering Committee is encouraged with the participation of government officials from the various national institutions concerned as well as key FAO staff, for the purpose of steering and monitoring the project's implementation.

26. Specific implementation arrangements for TCP projects depend on the country/region and the type of assistance to be provided. A budget holder is designated within FAO and assigned responsibility for day-to-day project implementation and funds disbursement in accordance with approved project activities and related technical inputs. In most cases, the FAOR is designated as budget holder for country-specific TCP projects, but inter-country and regional projects as well as projects in countries without an FAOR are operated by country project officers located in the Regional Offices or occasionally by Headquarters technical staff. The budget holder maintains close contact and cooperation with the FAO technical services, one of which is usually designated as LTU, responsible for the overall technical oversight and supervision of the project.

27. Monitoring of TCP project implementation is carried out at different levels. Regular monitoring of project activities is performed by the budget holder, in close collaboration with the Regional Operations Branches (ROBs). The main tool for such monitoring is the Quarterly Project Implementation Report (QPIRs), prepared by budget holders and reviewed by ROBs. During implementation, TCOT reviews and monitors individual projects, through its participation in Project Task Forces, the review of backstopping mission reports as well as the review and processing of requests for budget revisions. This monitoring is performed in close cooperation with the concerned FAO technical services and the Field Programme Monitoring and Coordination Service (TCOM), which may also alert TCOT on specific problems arising during project implementation which require ad hoc response. As a further check, the appropriate FAO units can, at any time, inspect, evaluate and audit projects funded under the TCP (see below).

28. The monitoring of TCP projects and of the performance of the Programme as a whole relies on the use of the Field Programme Management Information System (FPMIS), the Organization’s primary management tool for field programme-related data. FPMIS provides easy access to field programme and project performance information through a web-based application, which was extended in 2002-03 to cover all TCP projects. The FPMIS provides access to project specific financial information stored in the Oracle data warehouse.

29. The completion of the project activities is sanctioned by a Terminal Statement or Concluding Letter, by which FAO, through the Assistant Director-General of the Technical Cooperation Department, informs the responsible Government authorities of the project's major achievements and recommendations and suggests follow-up action.

30. In late 2001, TCOT commissioned an in-depth review of the procedures and policies governing the management of the TCP project cycle (appraisal, formulation, approval, implementation and monitoring of TCP projects) with the aim of proposing improvements. The review, carried out by an independent consultant, has highlighted two major orders of problems:

31. In response to these findings, in 2002, FAO Senior Management introduced a number of measures aimed at increasing the TCP project approvals and deliveries and at improving the overall performance of TCP projects. These include:

32. A general improvement both in the processing of requests for TCP assistance and in the delivery of approved projects has been reported following the introduction of these measures.


33. The TCP is subject to regular evaluations and audits conducted either by FAO (i.e. the Office of Programme, Budget and Evaluation/PBE and the Office of the Inspector-General/AUD) or by the External Auditor appointed by the FAO Governing Bodies.


34. The Evaluation Service (PBEE) regularly reviews the overall performance of the Programme, which is reflected in the reports submitted to the governing bodies, such as the Programme Evaluation Report and the Programme Implementation Report.

35. A process for systematically evaluating thematic clusters of TCP projects is also well established with funds for evaluation included in each approved TCP project. Seven thematic evaluations have so far been carried out by PBEE, covering the following fields: Food Quality Control (1997); Apiculture and Sericulture (1998); Legislation (1999); Policy Assistance (2000); Animal Health (2001); Emergency Relief Operations (2002); and Crop Production (2003). Since 2000, these evaluations have been linked with reviews of related Regular Programme activities and other field projects. Reviews of individual TCP projects are thus more closely linked to their overall Programme context. These evaluations, conducted with the assistance of external experts, are vetted by an Independent External Peer Review Panel, prior to their submission to the Programme Committee and eventually, the FAO Council and Conference. The lessons learnt through these evaluations are also drawn upon in the design of future projects in similar fields by the FAO technical services concerned and taken into account in the whole review and appraisal process of future similar requests for assistance.

36. Individual TCP projects are assessed in all thematic evaluations for their relevance, design, implementation, outputs produced and follow-up catalytic effects and scores are assigned in each of these areas. Overall, projects generally have been found to be relevant to important development problems in the countries requesting them. Implementation has been generally good and projects usually have produced the intended outputs. Project design, however, has scored somewhat lower overall. More resources are now devoted to this aspect, but continued vigilance in this area will be required in future as FAO Representations play a larger role in TCP design, implementation and monitoring. As a rather high percentage of projects are delayed in their implementation, realistic work planning is another area requiring improvement. Also, project follow-up has sometimes not been as expected, meaning that a more realistic look is needed during appraisal at the prospects for follow-up. As an additional measure to improve project follow-up, it has been recommended that a project closure process be undertaken between FAO and recipient countries, so that a formal agreement for project follow-up, including by the recipient country, can be established.


37. The Office of the Inspector General undertakes regular and systematic audits and inspections of TCP projects to ensure the adequacy of internal controls, reliability and integrity of the accounts, and compliance with the rules and regulations of the Organization, In addition, ‘value for money’ aspects are considered to ensure the efficient and economic use of allocated resources. The work covers an examination of the corporate accounting systems at Headquarters as well as field visits to decentralised offices and project locations to review project implementation. On average about 12 projects are reviewed each year under normal circumstances.

38. In addition, periodic reviews are undertaken of specific aspects of the programme based on on-going risk assessment. Upon completion of each audit, a report containing the main findings and recommendations is brought to the attention of the divisions concerned for corrective action. Copies of all audit reports are provided to the Office of the Director General as well as to the External Auditor, and adequate systems are in place to ensure that audit findings and recommendations are duly addressed by management. Where appropriate, significant matters of interest are brought to the attention of the Director General, the Audit Committee and the FAO Finance Committee.

39. Furthermore, TCP projects are reviewed by the External Auditor as part of their mandate on the biennial accounts of the Organization. Their report which also covers the TCP is brought for consideration to the attention of the Finance Committee, Council and Conference. An in-depth review by the External Auditor is currently (June 2003) being carried out for presentation to the governing bodies during the current biennium.

40. Reports on the performance of the TCP have been regularly submitted to the FAO Conference, Council, Regional Conferences, Programme Committee and Finance Committee over the period 1976 to 2003.

41. In commenting on these reports, many members of the governing bodies have reiterated the importance they attached to the Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP). On many occasions, the Conference has reaffirmed that the TCP effectively fills an important gap, by rapidly meeting unforeseen short-term, small-scale technical assistance needs including in particular emergencies, investment preparation and training. The Conference has also commended the Organization on the rigor applied in the selection of projects, according to the criteria endorsed by the Sixty-ninth and Seventy-fourth Sessions of the Council.

42. The Committees have on a number of occasions referred to the high value and catalytic role of the TCP. The Committees also have generally recommended maintaining or increasing the level of funding for the TCP and other technical activities: The Committee agreed that to a large extent, the results of the action taken had respected the original intent of safeguarding established priorities of the Organization. The Committee unanimously supported the importance and the benefits of the TCP. (Report of the 65th Session of the Programme Committee)

43. In recalling the importance of concrete action in the field, the FAO Conference, at its 29th Session, reiterated its support to the TCP. The importance of the TCP in meeting the requirements of beneficiary countries and the desirability of achieving in the future an increased share for the TCP in the total budget was also raised by many Members on the occasion of the 30th and 31st Sessions of the FAO Conference5.

IV. The Distribution of TCP Resources


44. The overall biennial allocation of resources for the Technical Cooperation Programme is approved by the Conference. In the light of the un-programmed nature of TCP assistance, such a decision is not made on the basis of projections of demand (which has always exceeded available resources) but rather on the Conference Resolution 9/89 regarding the share of FAO Regular Programme resources to be devoted to the Programme, which in its operative paragraph: Invites the Director-General to make every effort in order to restore the resources available to TCP to the former level of 14 percent of the total Regular Programme budget and, if possible, to raise it to 17 percent.

45. From 1976 until the end of 2002, 7 443 projects were approved under the TCP, for a total amount of US$ 928 million.

46. The table below depicts the evolution of the Programme since 1994 in terms of the number of projects approved per year and the average value per project. The data show a slight trend towards an increase in both the number of projects and average value per project approved, with the highest levels for both being attained in 2002.











Number of projects










Total value (US$ million)










Value per project (US$ thousands)











47. An analysis of the data reported in the table below shows that the overall allocation for the TCP increased by 6.8 percent between the 1994-95 and 2000-01 biennia. All regions benefited from this increase, although to different extents, reflecting the unprogrammed and demand-driven nature of the TCP. However, over the years, Africa has consistently received the largest share of TCP allocations, which reflects both the relatively large number of countries in the region and the often urgent needs of African countries for immediate agricultural assistance towards poverty eradication and food security.


Allocation of TCP resources (in US$ million)


Asia and Pacific


Latin America and Caribbean

Near East






























C. allocations by project category

48. TCP assistance is granted through seven main project categories, as described in Section II. Examples of the types of project funded under each of these categories are given in Section V.A.

49. Allocations per category have evolved over the years, depending on the type of requests received and retained for approval. The table below shows that, while throughout the history of TCP, advisory services and emergency assistance have consistently accounted for the majority of the funding, the share of resources allocated under Formulation/Programming (F) and Assistance to development (D) categories has increased between the 1994-95 and 2000-01 biennia.

50. This trend reflects an increased support of the TCP to: a) the formulation of development programmes and donor funded projects; b) agricultural sector programming missions and c) the formulation and implementation of the SPFS, falling under categories “F”and “D”. In particular, US$23.15 millions have been committed so far for the SPFS formulation and implementation.

Project Category

Allocation of TCP resources (%)





Advisory Services (A)





Emergencies (E)





Training (T)





Assistance to Development (D)





Formulation/Programming (F)





Investment (I)





Intercountry cooperation (C)





D. allocations by programme

51. TCP provides assistance to FAO member countries in all areas falling under the mandate of the Organization. The programme does not operate in isolation, but is closely associated with other normative and field activities of the Organization. It not only benefits from but makes an important contribution in its own right to the Organization’s Regular Programme.

52. The diagram below illustrates, based on the 2000-01 figures, the range of activities supported by the TCP, as this relates to FAO’s Major Programmes, using the Regular programme budget framework as a point of reference.

Undisplayed Graphic

V. Activities Supported by the Programme


53. TCP brings FAO experience and specialized expertise to bear in a range of situations in which a relatively minor financial commitment by FAO can have a very significant development impact. One of the strengths of the TCP is its considerable versatility.

54. As a more concrete indication of what TCP projects can typically do or achieve, a brief selection of completed projects is offered below, which may convey a clearer idea of what type of assistance can be granted through each one of the seven main TCP project categories and of what limited TCP resources may help to achieve, either in terms of direct impact or in catalyzing larger interventions by other donors, partners or by the recipient governments themselves. In fact, since TCP projects are relatively small and of a short-term nature, they generally link to ongoing national programmes or to future larger projects in order to achieve longer-term benefits. TCP projects accomplish this through fostering partnerships, filling gaps and building bridges to future projects or establishing complementarities with larger projects. It may be noted that training, when not the exclusive focus of TCP assistance (i.e. project category “T”), is in most cases an important component of all TCP projects.

55. Category (A) - Advisory services: projects in this category assist governments in accessing specialised technical assistance to meet urgent and unforeseen requirements. The topics covered may include: support to development of improved rural finance systems; assistance with strengthening of marketing systems; agricultural planning; pest and disease management and control (when not falling under the Emergencies category); seed production; agronomic research; forestry development; introduction of new technologies for increased production or productivity; food and nutrition programming and planning; formulation of new legislation or new policies in the agriculture sector including natural resources; sector and subsector reviews, preparation of technical documentation required for round tables and consultative group meetings; capacity building and institutional reform.

In 2000-2002, a TCP project had far-reaching effects on the control of trichinellosis parasitic zoonosis, which was becoming a source of risk to public health throughout Lithuania. As a consequence, national legislation on Trichinella detection on pig and wild boar meat was revised; veterinary personnel trained during the project have been cascading the obtained knowledge on Trichinella epidemiology to meat inspectors at slaughterhouses, district veterinary services and pig farmers, and, currently, veterinary supervision at slaughterhouses and methods for Trichinella inspection are applied in accordance with EU legislation and requirements. Meat inspectors are now required to enroll in annual training courses supervised by the Lithuanian National Veterinary Laboratory, which is the reference laboratory for Trichinella in the country. Public awareness regarding trichinellosis has considerably increased. As a sequel to the project, in February 2003, the Lithuanian Government approved a 3-year national programme on control of trichinellosis, a significant proportion of which is devoted to promoting joint efforts to control trichinellosis in humans and animals by the medical and veterinary services.


In 2001-2002, a TCP project helped design a new legislation for the sustainable development of forests in Vanuatu. The project successfully fulfilled its main objective of producing a new Forestry Act together with the implementing Forestry Regulations, thereby creating a legal framework for the sustainable management of the country's forest resources. Upon conclusion of the project, the Forestry Department, supported by the State Law Office, implemented the project’s recommendations through submission of the proposed legislation to Cabinet and then to Parliament. Within a matter of a few months, the Forestry Bill was enacted into law, the Forestry Regulations were finalized and adopted.

56. Projects under this category may also include interventions in the field of emergency preparedness, such as support to the preparation of comprehensive preparedness plans at regional, national and community levels.

In 1996-1997, a TCP project was approved for India, with the aim of reducing the vulnerability of fishermen to cyclones, after a cyclone had hit the East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh. The project involved installation of a shore-to-vessel communication system, provision of life-saving equipment and a comprehensive programme for community-based disaster preparedness in fishing villages. Since 1997, when the project was implemented, there have been five cyclones that came close to shore and each time it was possible for boats to return quickly. The Andra Pradesh Government has followed up with establishing more shore stations and making radio handsets available to boat owners at subsidised prices. Building on this, FAO organised a Regional Workshop on Sea Safety for Artisanal and Small-scale Fishermen in October 2001 that adopted a “Chennai Declaration” to enhance sea safety.

57. Category (E) - Emergencies: these are projects designed to meet urgent and immediate needs arising from disasters and unexpected calamities which affect, or are expected to affect, the country's food, agriculture, fisheries and forestry situation. They are directed towards enabling affected households to resume their farming activities as quickly as possible, by the provision of essential inputs, including seeds, vaccines, etc. In many cases, a TCP project enables FAO to initiate emergency work rapidly, while mobilising funds from other sources to expand its interventions.

58. Most projects approved under this category focus on the provision of basic farm inputs for households affected by or at high risk from natural catastrophes.

In 2000, a TCP project was urgently approved for Burundi to enable drought affected farmers to resume their farming activities and improve their food security. The project provided 947 tons of bean seeds to approximately 94,000 households, enabling them sow 9 480 ha and obtain a production of 6 636 tons of beans. The project played a critical role in complementing other donors assistance. The coordination of the various partners inputs was ensured by FAO’s Agricultural Emergency Unit.

59. TCP projects under this category may also address animal diseases and locust or pest control as an emergency, depending on the level of the infection or invasion.

In 1999, following notification of an outbreak of African Swine Fever (ASF) in Ghana, a TCP project was approved to assist the Government in conducting a national eradication campaign. Stamping out measures were immediately instituted. The project also enabled strengthening of national services capacities in epidemiological surveillance, emergency preparedness, including laboratory staff capacity in diagnostic and sero-surveillance techniques. The project contributed to the eradication of the epidemic in a short time. The ban on movement of pigs and restocking was lifted in October 2000. Strengthening of emergency preparedness and laboratory capacities, creation of an emergency fund, maintenance of public awareness campaign and epidemiological surveillance as well as implementation of a strict African Swine Fever free policy are among the measures that were put in place by the Government as a follow-up to the project, to ensure the status of freedom from the disease. Further, the project bridged a critical gap while awaiting funds from a World Bank Loan that was used to compensate farmers for the loss of animals incurred during the eradication campaign.

60. Category (T) - Training: these projects give priority to practical training of those directly involved in agriculture, fisheries, forestry and related fields. Emphasis is placed, for example, on the following types of activities: practical training courses for farmers; training in the identification, formulation and execution of investment projects; refresher courses; courses in technologies new to the country and of direct practical application; specialized courses for agricultural, fishery and forestry technicians and workers, and training programmes for rural women. Academic training is excluded, except in rare cases where it is directly related to a specific development problem. Whenever possible, training is to be provided locally.

The field application of integrated pest management (IPM) of food crops in Africa was triggered by the success of a TCP project which was implemented in 1995-1997 at an irrigated rice scheme in Dawhenya, in Ghana, with a view to train field extension agents and farmers on IPM in irrigated rice production systems, using the Farmer Field School (FFS) training methodology developed by FAO. The diagram in Appendix 2 shows that the pilot approach initiated in Ghana served as a model for similar interventions funded by the TCP in other countries in Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Mali as well as for wider-scale applications through the programmes of the larger funding agencies, including UNDP and the Netherlands Government. The expertise used to implement these TCP projects was made available through TCDC arrangements from South East Asia, and led to building up a nucleus of African IPM trainers who in turn have become available for TCDC interaction in Senegal and Benin and in other African countries such as Tanzania.


In 2002, a TCP project contributed to the development of rural rodent management systems in China’s Sichuan Province. As a result, grain losses in storage and in the field were substantially reduced, farmers were trained in rodent pest management, and the incidence of leptospirosis, a rodent-borne human disease which is a risk for rice field workers, was reduced. The Provincial Government earmarked funds for a five-year Action Plan for the extension of the techniques. Community rodent control systems were thus extended to 70 townships in 35 counties, where further 70 Farmers’ Training Courses and 2,100 Farmer Field Schools were conducted and 63,000 farmers were trained, enabling the rodent pest control systems introduced by the project to be sustained and taken up by a much larger number of farmers.

61. Category (D) - Assistance to development: projects under this category aim at providing limited amounts of supplies (seeds, vaccines, drugs, spare parts, specialized equipment, or even assistance for the repair of equipment) which may be urgently required to stimulate production, even though not related to an emergency. Assistance under this category is provided in exceptional cases only when the essential nature of the input required has been clearly demonstrated. TCP projects to support the implementation of the initial phase of the Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS) are covered by this category. This includes support to the water control, intensification and diversification of production systems components of the SPFS.

In 2001-2002, a TCP project was approved for Sudan to support the implementation of the water control component of the SPFS. More specifically, the project aimed at assisting the Government to introduce and demonstrate low-cost irrigation and traditional rainwater harvesting techniques and to improve water management techniques for the intensification and diversification of the local cropping systems. The project conducted a number of demonstrations targeting 10 villages in the semi-dry areas of the North Kordofan State, directly involving some 220 farms. Furthermore, the project trained irrigation technicians and extension workers in water conservation and management practices and in the maintenance of irrigation systems and equipment. Throughout project implementation, the constraints to smallholders’ agricultural development were analysed and ways to remove these constraints proposed, together with other arrangements for the preparation of the SPFS expansion phase. The project resulted in the introduction of a set of low-cost, efficient rain harvesting and soil conservation techniques and in the creation of farmers and technical staff capacities in the use and maintenance of improved irrigation technologies as well as in agronomic and water management practices.

62. Category (F) - Formulation and programming missions: these projects are meant to provide advice, through multidisciplinary missions, to determine the sectors that require strengthening and to identify technical assistance requirements, including the identification and formulation of large technical cooperation project proposals, for the preparation of country or rehabilitation programmes or to contribute to similar exercises conducted with donors, which are required for the preparation of donor conferences, round tables, etc.

In 1998, a TCP project was approved for Bangladesh to assist the Government in the identification of a project to develop the agricultural potential of parts of the region, based on detailed analysis of potential production technologies, a review of implementation and organisational requirements and full discussions with all stakeholders. As a result of the assistance FAO’s Investment Centre was entrusted by the Asian Development Bank with the formulation of an investment programme for the value of US$ 70 million, which is now under implementation.

63. TCP projects to support the formulation of the Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS) are also covered by this category.

In 2002, a TCP project supported the Government of Mexico in the formulation of a Unilateral Trust Fund (UTF) project for food security improvement and poverty reduction in especially poor micro-regions of the country, within the framework of the SPFS. The project, which also created the national capacity for the implementation of the SPFS, was followed by the approval of a 5 years FAO-executed project for the implementation of the first phase of the SPFS. The project, wholly funded by the Government of Mexico started its activities in June 2002.

64. Category (I) - Investment: projects in this category are aimed at stimulating increased investment, by the government itself or with the support of external funding institutions, through pre-investment activities, or by actions which will make an existing investment project more effective.

In 1999-2000, a TCP project supported Argentina in the preparation of investment project proposals for the rehabilitation of the agricultural infrastructure, which had been severely damaged by the floods originated by the meteorological phenomenon called “el Niño”, in particular in four Provinces in the North East of the country. An overall investment program, composed of a serie of rehabilitation projects, was prepared and presented for the financing of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). The project also contributed to strengthen the capacity, at the central, provincial, municipal levels for the coordination, implementation and monitoring of emergency agricultural programmes and farmers’ organization were supported in mitigating the effects of floods on agriculture. Four months after the conclusion of the TCP project, 32 investment projects for an amount of US$ 18.7 millions were already approved for IDB funding.

65. Category (C) - Intercountry cooperation: as part of FAO’s support to technical and economic cooperation among developing member countries as well as those in transition, TCP assistance may be used to provide a catalytic input in promoting such “horizontal cooperation” in clearly identified and priority areas of FAO’s concerns.

In 1995, a TCP project was approved for Buthan, India, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand, to build national capacity for the training of agro-retailers.Training programmes were implemented with flexibility to adapt to the needs of participating countries. The Agro-Retailers Training Programme supported the concept of inter-country cooperation and the exchange of expertise and know-how by employing TCDC consultants and organizing regional retailer training workshops. During the project there was increasing awareness and demand for inter-country cooperation. An additional training for agro-retailers was organized in Myanmar. The project fostered collaboration among participating countries as well as with other countries in the region and to building up a pool of trainers for future inter-country cooperation.

66. In responding to Governments’ priority requests for assistance, the TCP may also cooperate with NGOs and with the private sector where there is an opportunity to do so and requests are endorsed by the concerned government. The involvement of NGOs in TCP projects has increased over the past decade, in particular in those projects aimed at strengthening the ability of farmers’ organizations to participate in policy dialogue on agricultural development as well as the quality of the support services they provide for their members.

In 1997 in Senegal, TCP worked with the “Fédération des ONG du Sénégal”(FONGS) to assist the “Comité national de concertation des ruraux” in reinforcing its capacity to deliver agricultural support services. FONGS has subsequently assumed a leadership role in the implementation of Senegal’s nation-wide SPFS. The training programme is being replicated in Burkina Faso under another TCP project. Furthermore, the results of the programme have been fed into farmer organization reflection on agricultural policy in the UEMOA sub-region and on the agricultural component of NEPAD. Plans are now underway in several countries to enable governments and farmers’ organizations to work together in developing policies and programmes which effectively support small-holder agroecological approaches to agriculture.


67. In recent years, TCP assistance has been more and more solicited to support FAO member countries in strengthening their capacity to respond to the challenges posed by an increasingly globalized and liberalized international environment.

68. These requests stem from developing countries’ recognition of the opportunities offered by greater access to world markets and awareness of the role played by international conventions, protocols, agreements and regulations in guaranteeing the safe production, processing and trade of quality agricultural products and materials as well as protection of the environment. However, Governments also acknowledge their limitations in adapting their national systems to the international standards and requirements, which is a pre-condition for them to participate effectively in the consultation and decision processes that are taking place at the global level.

69. Several countries have requested and obtained assistance to strengthen their capacities in multilateral trade negotiations in agriculture with the view to acquiring the knowledge and analytical capability required to fully understand the implications of these negotiations and their impact on agriculture. A recently approved project for Sudan, briefly illustrated in the box below, is an example of the assistance that the TCP provides in this field:

Sudan, which is already a member of a number of regional economic groupings, has applied to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) and is currently preparing to negotiate its terms of accession. Conscious of the opportunities for growth and development but also of the new challenges posed by the membership in these multilateral and regional organizations, and acknowledging the insufficiency of the national capacities to analyse the implications of WTO accession for agriculture and food security, the Government requested FAO assistance. A TCP project is now helping to enhance the capacities of the recently-established Sudanese WTO Accession Unit (WACU) as well as other units within Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and other relevant Ministries to deal with the informational and analytical needs associated with WTO membership and its Agreement on Agriculture.

70. Along the same lines, the TCP is also supporting FAO member countries in strengthening their national phytosanitary capabilities, measures and control systems for prevention of the phytosanitary risks associated with the import and export of agricultural products and materials in the WTO Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement) and the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC).

The introduction and spread of several pests of major phytosanitary significance within the last 10 years has had catastrophic effects on the agriculture the Caribbean region, with countries facing a real threat of collapse of the agricultural sector through the spread of pests to non-infested areas and through further introductions of damaging exotic pests. Faced with the difficulty, CARICOM countries requested urgent technical assistance from FAO. Thus, in 2001/2002, a regional TCP project helped CARICOM member countries in building the phytosanitary capabilities for pest exclusion, in harmonizing phytosanitary procedures throughout the region and in ensuring consistency of their legal frameworks with new international agreements, such as the WTO-SPS Agreement and the IPPC.

71. Similarly, the TCP is increasingly supporting the strengthening of the national food safety and food quality control systems for harmonization to international quality standards and requirements as contained in the international agreement on the application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures for food and agricultural products as well as the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT), basing measures on the standards, guidelines and recommendations adopted by the Codex Alimentarius Commission.

At the end of the nineties, food adulteration had become a serious cause of death and mass intoxication in India. A European ban was imposed on selected Indian export products (e.g. sea foods). These events underlined the urgent need to adjust national Codex standards and to adapt Codex work to the changing international trade environment, as reflected in the WTO obligations (SPS and TBT). In response, between 2001 and 2003, a TCP project assisted the country in strengthening the capabilities of the National Codex Committee (NCC) and in developing the functional capacity of the National Codex Contact Point (NCCP) to ensure effective conduct of Codex work at the national level. The project thus enhanced the effectiveness of the overall national food safety and quality system and its compliance with international standards.

72. As a result of the increased international attention to bio-safety related issues, the TCP has also been responsive to governments’ requests for FAO assistance to the development or strengthening of national bio-safety systems. Thus, the TCP assists requesting countries in building the national capacities for the conservation of local biodiversity, the safe use of biotechnology applications, the formulation of relevant legislation and regulations and the control of transboundary movements of Living Modified Organisms (LMO), in compliance with the obligations deriving from the Cartagena Protocol.

In recent years, Paraguay has been confronted with the illegal introduction of LMO and with the consequent risk of incurring rejections of its food product exports towards markets which impose restrictions on transgenic products. In 1997, Paraguay established the Commission for Biodiversity (CB), charged with regulating the introduction, the release in the environment, the control and the research of all LMO-related aspects. However, the lack of adequate legal instruments and of sufficient human capacities was preventing the Commission’s effectiveness in regulating the above and in controlling transboundary LMO movements. In this context, in 2002/2003, a TCP project has supported Paraguay in the strengthening of its national bio-safety system: a law adapted to national bio-safety needs was drafted; the CB was strengthened in its capacity to analyse and decide on the release of LMOs and their derivates, and laboratory technicians were trained in carrying out analyses for the detection and monitoring of these organisms.

73. The TCP is also contributing to the overall transition and reform process of Eastern European and CIS countries towards a market-led economy. Thus, the TCP supports several CIS countries in building the institutional capacity for performing agricultural policy analysis and planning within a market-based economy. Similarly, TCP has been called upon to support countries in Eastern Europe in the ongoing process for EU accession. The example depicted below illustrates how a small TCP project supports an Eastern European country in acceding to and making profitable use of the EU instruments and funds for further boosting its agricultural and rural development.

With the establishment of the EU accession partnership in 1998, Slovakia became eligible for various pre-accession instruments, including the Special Pre-Accession Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development (SAPARD). A pre-condition for access to SAPARD funds was the establishment of a monitoring and evaluation system, for which the EU Commission has delegated responsibility to the national authorities. Lacking the sufficient technical capacities required to set up such a system and under time-pressure to implement it in order to access SAPARD funds, the Government requested and obtained TCP assistance. Within six months, the project achieved its objectives of establishing a reliable monitoring and evaluation system and creating the capacities required for its operation.

VI. Conclusion

74. Since its inception in 1976, the TCP has brought FAO specialized competences to its member countries, contributing to improving the livelihoods of the rural and most destitute people in many countries and across many sub-sectors.

75. While preserving the nature and intent for which the Programme was created and while continuing to operate with rigour and transparency, TCP has demonstrated flexibility in adapting to changes in the international environment and in its responsiveness to developing member countries’ emerging needs for the Organization’s assistance. It has thus helped countries to cope with emergencies and the new challenges facing their agricultural economies as well as to honour their international commitments under international treaties, protocols, conventions and regulations.

76. The challenges for the years to come, beyond the continuous responsiveness to emerging requirements, will be mainly related to ensuring the TCP’s capacity to continue to operate as a focused, catalytic, problem-solving, small-scale quick disbursing tool in an international environment where funds which can be provided for similar forms of technical cooperation have been steadily reduced.

77. All evidence suggests that there will be a steady increase in demand for TCP interventions, and that these will also progressively increase in the complexity and scale, implying a need to explore options for expanding resource availability.


Appendix 1: TCP Criteria


Criteria governing the nature and types of assistance
that can be rendered under TCP

Requests must:

  1. Give emphasis to increasing production in food and agriculture, fisheries or forestry, with a view to increasing incomes of small-scale producers and rural workers.
  2. Be accorded high priority by the government, which must also ensure that the required local support facilities and services will be available and that follow-up action will be taken.
  3. Be directed to an urgent and specific problem or need, limited to a particular sector or area, and involve practical action with well-defined objectives and expected results.
  4. Complement, without duplicating, other development activities, fill a critical gap and, where possible, serve as a catalyst for a larger-scale activity.
  5. Be limited in duration, preferably from one to three months, in no case should the overall duration of project activities exceed 24 months.
  6. Be limited in cost, not exceeding the upward limit of US$400 000 per project and preferably much lower, and involve the most effective and least costly method of execution.
  7. Provide assurance of the fullest possible participation of the governments in project execution, through such means as the use of national institutions, personnel and resources.


Appendix 2: Diagram of the Springboard Effects of a TCP Project in Western Africa


Undisplayed Graphic



1 This term covers all intergovernmental organizations at the global, regional and subregional levels.

2 In countries where there is no FAO Representative, this function is covered by the UNDP Resident Representative and, if there is no UNDP Resident Representative, it is covered by the FAO Regional or Sub-regional Office, or FAO Headquarters, as appropriate.

3 TCOT is also responsible for coordinating the implementation of Conference Resolution 2/93, which established the “Edouard Saouma Award”, to be presented at the beginning of each regular session of the Conference to a national or regional institution which has implemented with particular efficiency a project funded by the TCP.

4 The “return flow” assures full spending of allotted funds within a given biennium, by allowing for the redesignation to the earlier biennium of funding sources for projects approved in a subsequent biennium. This procedure was approved by the Finance Committee and Council in 1980. Reports of FAO Conference 1999 – PWB.1998/1999 – Par.99 and FAO Conference 2001 - Programme Implementation Report 1998/1999 – Par.76).

5 Reports of FAO Conference 1999 – PWB.1998/1999 – Par.99 and FAO Conference 2001 - Programme Implementation Report 1998/1999 – Par.76).