Twenty-Sixth FAO Regional Conference for the Near East

Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, 9 - 13 March 2002

Action Taken on the Main Recommendations of the Twenty-Fifth Regional Conference for the Near East and other FAO Activities in the Near East Region 2000-2001


This report is presented in three sections:





The following is a brief summary of the action taken on recommendations made by the 25th session of FAO Regional Conference for the Near East.

1. FAO to continue to provide policy advice, guidance and training to Member Countries to assist in their preparations for the next round of multilateral trade negotiations on agriculture, and in assessing the implications of joining the WTO on the agricultural sectors of Member Countries.

Two training workshops on the "Umbrella Programme for Training on the Uruguay Round (UR) Future and Multilateral Trade Negotiations on Agriculture" were held in Cairo (September 26th to 30th 1999; 51 participants) and Muscat (September 16th to 20th; 85 participants). Arabic resource manuals on Uruguay Round and Multilateral Trade Negotiations and on Implications of URAoA (Agreement on Agriculture) for Developing Countries were published and distributed to Member Countries.

2. FAO to increase support to the Palestinian agricultural sector given the suffering and difficult circumstances faced by Palestinian farmers as result of the occupation, and to take the necessary measures to include Palestine in all activities and programmes provided to Member States.

RNE implemented a UNDP/FAO project on "Capacity Building in Agricultural Policy Analysis and Planning in Palestine", which resulted in the following documents: a) Palestinian Agricultural Policy; b) Strategy for Sustainable Development of the Agricultural Sector; and c) Medium-Term Plan 2001-2005. Furthermore, FAO is currently assisting the Palestinian Authority in the improvement and development of agro-industry and fishery marketing. FAO/WFP is also planning to field a Food and Nutrition Assessment Mission in the Palestinian Territories in 2002. At the request of the Palestinian authority, a mission was fielded late 2001 to assess the priority needs and to formulate proposals for agricultural revitalization in the West Bank and the Gaza strip.

3. FAO to further strengthen its country offices in the Near East to better support the regional country field programmes of the Organization.

The Organization continued to provide support to its country offices in the Region and, in particular, a number of FAO Representations have been strengthened following the transfer of operational responsibilities for national projects to the FAO Representatives. The Organization also initiated the programme for the establishment of additional country offices based on the out posting of a senior technical officer who could also act as FAO Representative, as approved by the Council at its 119th Session in November 2000. In this context, the Organization has signed one host country agreement for the establishment of such a Representation in the Near East Region and is in the final stages of negotiation with three other countries. The same arrangement is also being considered for a fifth country.

Follow-up the World Food Summit

4. FAO to enhance the exchange of expertise and information to SPFS among member countries.

Assisted in the preparation and implementation of TCP on Water Control Component (WCC) of the SFPS in Egypt, Djibouti, Mauritania, Morocco, Sudan, Syria, Turkmenistan and Yemen. Assistance for preparation of Phase Two of the SPFS in Egypt and Syria have continued.

5. FAO to continue assisting Member States in approaching donors and international organizations for supporting their national efforts towards implementation of the World Food Summit Plan of Action.

6. FAO to continue to respond positively to government requests to take part in the SPFS and to enhance technical collaboration between countries of the Region through the South-South cooperation (SSC) initiative.

Egypt signed agreements on SSC with Cameroon, Djibouti, Malawi and Tanzania for the implementation of SPFS. China also signed an agreement with Mauritania for implementation of a similar project. The preparations for SPFS are underway in Algeria.

7. FAO to continue its support to the setting up of FIVIMS at the national and international levels, in collaboration with concerned UN organizations, competent national institutions and non-governmental organizations.

RNE has continued to provide support to Member Countries in setting up FIVIMS at the national level. The support includes TCP project for Yemen, FIVIMS training workshops in UAE and Turkey, and preparation of TCP projects for Syria and Turkey.

8. FAO to continue lending support to raising funds through the various activities of the TeleFood programme

FAO continued to give support to fund raising through TeleFood programmes.

9. FAO to continue its support to Member Countries in their efforts to review and formulate long-term sustainable agricultural and rural development strategies, policies and national plans of action.

The following activities were carried out:

Providing technical assistance in implementing the Institutional Strengthening Agricultural Policy Project in Syria, funded by Italy. This project provided assistance to Syria in formulating a long-term strategy for sustainable agricultural development, action plans and in establishing a national center for agricultural policies.

10. FAO to assist, within its available resources, Member countries in conducting studies for establishing regional/sub-regional market information systems to stimulate intra-regional trade, as well as the feasibility of alternative mechanisms for joint procurement, marketing and collective bargaining with foreign trade blocks, in conformity with WTO rules.

The following related activities were carried out:

11. FAO to continue its support to applied agricultural research and extension to assist member countries in priority areas, such as the development of varieties tolerant to drought, salt and heat stress, date palm production and post harvest-technology, combating desertification; utilization of non-traditional water resources; and rationalizing of water use.

12. FAO to provide, within its available resources, Member Countries with technical assistance and training in biotechnology and genetic engineering and to enhance the exchange of information and experiences in these fields among countries of the Region.

FAO co-sponsored, with Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research, the First International Conference on Biotechnology application for Arid Regions, held in Kuwait, April 2001. FAO is exploring the possibilities of establishing a Biotechnology Centre in the Region in response to the demand by some Member Countries.

13. FAO to assist in organizing an expert meeting, in collaboration with relevant UN Agencies and other regional and international institutions, on agro-industries and food safety, in the context of changing consumption patterns in the Region and requirements of export markets.

Preparatory work for achieving the task has been completed and implementation is under way. A sub-regional workshop (9 participants from 6 member countries) on improving agro-industries was held in Mauritania on October 24-25, 2001.

14. FAO to continue its support to enhance the capacity building of policy analysts and planners at country and regional level, particularly through continued support to establish the Near East and North African Regional Network Policies (NENARNAP)

15. FAO to continue assisting Member Countries in evaluating various options to enhance intra-regional trade in view of promoting regional and national food security.

Working document has been prepared on the subject matter, and is included for discussion in the present 26th NERC.

16. FAO to share with countries of the Region the experience accumulated from some of the successful national and regional Trust Fund Projects to benefit from the lessons learned when formulating possible future Trust Fund programmes in the Region.

This activity has been implemented and proved beneficial to receiving countries. A new UTF arrangement has been approved for Bahrain and a similar arrangement is under preparation for Algeria.

17. FAO to respond positively, within its available resources, to request from Member Countries concerning national and regional projects with a view to foster cooperation and address issues of regional dimension.

18. FAO to follow up on the necessary steps suggested in Document NERC/00/5 to ensure timely implementation of the activities for proposed Animal Health Commission.

The preamble of the Commission has been prepared and shared with the experts of the member countries. FAO took part in the 25th Arab Veterinary Medical Congress which further emphasized the need for such a body in the Region.

19. FAO to provide the Secretariat for the newly established Animal Health Commission at the Regional Office for the Near East.

The Regional Animal Health Officer is acting as an interim secretary for the Commission.

20. The Meeting listened to a presentation on "Intra-Regional Agricultural Trade in the Near East" (NERC/00/6) and commended FAO for the valuable information included in the document and for the timely presentation of this important topic during a special session in parallel to the Regional Conference. Requested FAO to include this highly significant topic on the agenda of future Near East Regional fora.

As part of the agenda of NERC 26th, a paper on "Trade Liberalization Policies, Intra-regional Trade and Sustainable Agriculture Development" has been prepared.

21. The Conference took note of the Document NERC/00/INF/6, "Review of the Progress in the WTO Multinational Trade Negotiations on Agriculture", and commended FAO for assisting Member Countries that are not yet members in assessing the implications of joining the WTO on their agricultural sectors, as well as for providing policy advice, guidance and training to countries that are already members of the WTO to assist in their preparations for the next round of multilateral trade negotiations on agriculture.

RNE/FAO, in cooperation with GCC Secretariat, organized a "Sub-regional Training Workshop on Uruguay Round and Future Multinational Trade Negotiation on Agriculture" in Muscat-Oman. The topic has also been discussed in the document on "Trade Liberalisation Policies, Intra-regional Trade and Sustainable Agriculture Development."



In addition to the activities mentioned above (section A), the programme of work during the biennium 2000-2001 included the following:

22. Agricultural Policy Analysis

Policy advice and technical assistance were provided to a number of member countries to enhance the responsiveness of the agricultural sector to international, regional, national, policy environment signals and to help remove the technical and policy constraints particularly relating to SARD, poverty and food security (for details, see section A above).

23. Development of Crops and Livestock in the Region

23.1 Land Degradation Assessment in Dry-land (LADA)

23.2 Seed and Plant Genetic Resource Development

RNE/FAO assisted Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia to establish tissue culture for date palm and screening techniques for Bayoud disease in order to produce date palm trees with improved fruit yield and resistance to Bayoud disease. Assistance was also provided to Yemen for the establishment of a laboratory for seed technology.

23.3Grassland and Pasture Development

23.4Plant Protection Activities

23.5 Animal Production and Health

The implemented field programme activities included RADISCON (Regional Animal Disease Surveillance and Control Network for North Africa, the Middle East and the Arabian Peninsula), covering 29 countries; control of transboundary diseases in Afghanistan; livestock disease surveillance and emergency preparedness in Syria; surveillance and strategy formulation for rinderpest and other major diseases in Yemen, which was used in recent Rift Valley fever (RVF) outbreak; rinderpest surveillance and control in Sudan; control of FMD in Algeria, Turkey and Iran; assistance against spread of RVF in Saudi Arabia and Iraq; alert systems against RVF and TADs in Mauritania; training in Animal Disease Surveillance in the Region; sustainable parasite control in Iran, as well as sustainable control of tsetse and trypanosomosis in Sudan; and emergency animal health assistance to pastoral communities affected by drought in Jordan; support to Veterinary Services in Libya. Activities also included participation in international meetings (Bahrain) and Regional meetings (Khartoum) concerning Old World screw worm eradication.

24. Human Resources Development

24.1 Rural Development Services

Field activities of FAO/SDA in the Region included methodological support in developing participatory and integrated approaches in project design and implementation through improved tools and methods, training courses and workshops and exchange of experiences and lessons learned. In this regard, field projects were implemented in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia.

24.2 Research, Extension and Training

FAO/SDR initiated the following activities/projects at the regional level:

24.3 Women in development

FAO/SDW continued to support the following activities in the Member Countries:

25. Supporting Services

25.1 Agricultural Marketing, and Rural Finance

25.2 Industrial Crops, Agro-Industrial and Food Processing

Regional Post harvests Workshop was held at Alexandria University, from 11-13 November 2001. Also, Date Palm and Olive Networks were expanded, and forged cooperation with ESCORENA for better exchange of information, harmonization of standards, and procedures.

25.3 Nutrition

The activities included a workshop on Nutrition in Primary School Curricula in the Arab Countries, Bahrain; the First Session of the Codex Regional Coordinating Committee, Roundtable Meeting on Agricultural Censuses of Near East Countries-2000," Lebanon; Regional Workshop on "Improving Household Food Security and Nutrition," November 2001; the First Arab Nutrition Conference, Bahrain, September 2001; and a workshop on "Emerging Food Safety Issues and Consumer Protection," Jordan, 28-30 October 2001.

26. Forestry Development and Management

26.1 Forest Resources Assessment and Development

26.2 Sustainable Management of Natural Forests

Technical guidelines on measurement and assessment of criteria and indicators were published to facilitate field level implementation.

26.3 Forest Genetic Resources

Global Information System on Forest Genetic Resources" (REFORGEN) was placed on the Internet. The 11th and 12th Sessions of the Panel of Experts on Forest Gene Resources (September 1999, November 2001) recommended action based on country-derived needs and priorities.

26.4 Forest Plantation and Protection

26.5 Wildlife and Protected Areas Management

In Syria, the Consolidation Phase of the Italian funded Range Improvement and Wildlife Conservation Project [1996-1999] is being implemented. Activities continue in Extension, Range Improvement and Wildlife Conservation. In Morocco, implementation of a Czech funded Project to Establish a Pilot Hunting System was completed during 2001. Achievements of the project included collecting and reviewing existing data relevant to hunting in order to facilitate the design of a Geographic Information System [GIS] for Hunting.

27. Fisheries Development Programme

A Mission was carried out in Lebanon in February 2001 to promote the Fisheries sector. The Mission proposed to revise old (1994) project profile and suggested to develop budgetary estimates (donor assistance) for the development of aquaculture projects in Lebanon. General Assembly meeting of INFOSAMAK was held in Rabat after the transfer of the project from Bahrain to Morocco. RNE participated in the deliberations of the first meeting. A Mission was sent to Oman to advise in establishing a Training Centre for Fishermen, and to provide assistance on Aquaculture Development and Research Vessel operation. A project profile for the development of Fisheries Sector in Qatar was prepared and included in the overall mission report. Fisheries Expert Consultation Meeting and the 2nd Arab Conference on Fish Trade and Investment were held in Algeria.

28. Emergency Assistance

A number of recommendations made at the 22nd Session of the FAO Commission for Controlling the Desert Locust in the Central Region (CRC) were implemented and various other activities of CRC were carried out in the Region. The development of a joint Work Plan with the EMPRES (Desert Locust) Central Region Programme resulted in several joint activities which were implemented in 2000 and 2001.

29. FAO Special Relief Operations



30. Policy Assistance for Economic and Agricultural Development

31. Agricultural Production and Support Systems

32. Promotion of People Participation and Human Resources Development

33. Food Security

Food security remains a high priority concern in the Region, requiring inter alia support to the establishment of FIVIMS at national levels. Other key elements for the food policy are the dissemination of emergency and disaster preparedness methodologies; the implementation of national plans of action for nutrition; capacity building in nutrition education in schools; and methodologies and guidelines for household food security and nutrition strategies. Advisory services will be provided to countries concerning access to the global WAICENT programme, AGRIS/CARIS and the strengthening of national information systems and networks.

34. Forestry

35. Fisheries Development

36. Strengthening TCDC/ECDC and Cooperation with IGO/NGOs

Many countries of the Region have developed successful experiences in the various fields of agriculture. Member Countries could greatly benefit from the experience of each other either through in-service training or by the provision of technical assistance. This process will continue to be developed further. FAO-TCDC Partnership Programmes, Inter-Governmental Organizations, established either under the direct auspices of FAO/RNE or supported by it, such as AFMANENA, NENARACA, CARDNE, NEPPO, INFOSAMAK, AARINENA, will continue to receive technical assistance, advisory services and necessary backstopping, in order to enhance their role and strengthen their intervention in their specific fields of specialisation. Specialised networks, specific to crops or to development themes, will continue to be supported and strengthened.

37. Field Programme Development

Field programme development and direct technical backstopping of filed projects will constitute a significant part of the workplans of RNE officers in the next biennium.