Good afternoon, everyone. I apologize for not being able to join you earlier today, but I was obligated to attend some meetings this morning. This meeting today is a very important one, and I really hoped to be here earlier.
Robust models that can make medium-term projections of supply and demand are essential for good planning. FAO has a number of these models (Global perspectives, OECD-FAO), and there is some country disaggregation, but the FAO models are intended mainly for global projections. There is a need for country-specific models that give more details about specific commodities and can be adjusted at the local level by governments to meet their specific needs for investment planning.
Agricultural investment is one of the most important ways to meet the Zero Hunger Challenge of the United Nations Secretary General. Good projection models can also help provide guidance about what sectors of agriculture to invest in.
Of course these models can’t predict the future with precise accuracy, but that is not the point of these models. Instead, these models can be used to investigate many issues of key policy importance in a more rigorous manner than if we did not have the models. For example, they can be used to explore the impact of different assumptions about dietary diversification away from rice; about population growth; about urbanization; about production constraints such as land scarcity and water shortages; and about price trends on world markets. I hope your discussions today were useful in learning more about how these models work and how they can be used.
In that regard, FAO, in collaboration with JIRCAS, decided to fund this project to create supply-demand projection models for Lao PDR and Cambodia. I am very pleased to see that there is wide interest in this work, and I hope that you have found the sessions today useful.
I would like to thank the other institutions involved in this work for their fruitful collaboration: the Office of Agricultural Economics (OAE) of the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, Kasetsart University, the Governments of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Cambodia, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) of the Government of Japan, the Japan International Research Centre for Agricultural Sciences (JIRCAS), and the ASEAN Food Security Information System (AFSIS). I look forward to further collaboration with all of those institutions, and with all of you, in the future.