Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

Hiroyuki Konuma

FAO Regional Representative for Asia-Pacific

OPENING ADDRESS

by

Hiroyuki Konuma
Assistant Director-General and
FAO Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific
(Representing Participating Partners)

delivered at the

Second Meeting of the Regional Steering Committee for Asia and the Pacific for
the Global Strategy to Improve Agricultural and Rural Statistics

Bangkok, Thailand
1 November 2013

 

Distinguished Participants and Colleagues,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to extend, on behalf of the Director-General of FAO and on my own behalf, a warm welcome to the participants of the Second meeting of the Regional Steering Committee for Asia and the Pacific for the Global Strategy to Improve Agricultural and Rural Statistics (RSC).

I am delighted to acknowledge the participation of regional steering committee members from 7 countries, as well as from key partners ESCAP, ADB, SIAP and APAARI, an observer from the Republic of Korea and other FAO colleagues.  I am thankful for your interest in supporting the Global Strategy and for travelling long distances to participate in this event despite your busy schedule. I do hope that your active involvement in guiding this global initiative will ensure the relevance and effectiveness of our activities at the country level.

I would specially thank Mr Christophe Duhamel, the Global Coordinator for the Strategy for taking time to be with us to share the global vision on coordination of activities of implementing partners, in particular the decisions of the last Global Steering Committee meeting.

I am happy to note that many international organizations are working as a team to improve agricultural statistics. FAO is privileged to take a part in this joint effort and host the secretariat. I thank ADB, ESCAP, SIAP, DFID and SPC for partnering with FAO for this global initiative.  Working together based upon our comparative advantages and pooling of knowledge and financial resources will indeed have a lasting impact on the agricultural statistics systems. 

The implementation of the Global Strategy in Asia and the Pacific is a long-term plan for improving agricultural and rural statistics in the countries. The RSC will play an important role in guiding its implementation.

This meeting is of particular importance as it will review the progress made in this region to date, and will select additional countries for participation in the Regional Action Plan (RAP) in 2014.  I am particularly keen to see an improvement in rate of progamme delivery, without compromising the quality of technical advice to countries. In order to ensure quality of delivery it is necessary that partners share advance information about their planned activities so that contributions could be planned. Publication of annotated 2014 Work Plan of partners for the Global Strategy will provide opportunities not only for better coordination but also for attracting other resource partners.

Ladies and Gentlemen,  

You are well aware, that FAO’s main mandate is to combat hunger and malnutrition, and monitor the progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals, especially MDG one, aiming to reduce hunger by half by 2015. Despite the rapid transformation of economies, the Asia-Pacific region was still a home of around 563 million people faced chronic hunger in 2010-2012  which accounts for almost two-third of the world total hunger population.

Besides eradication of hunger and malnutrition, FAO’s new Strategic Objectives focus on sustainability of agriculture, reduction of rural poverty, and increasing resilience of livelihoods to threats and crisis. Polices and regulatory frameworks prepared through inclusive approaches in the food systems will contribute to achieving these objectives at county level.

Needless to say that monitoring progress towards these objectives places new demands on the data systems, besides many existing unmet data gaps. Some of the weaknesses in national agricultural statistics are underlined by the data requirements to deal with issue relating to food security in the wake of price volatility, diversion of agricultural land to production of biofuels, global warming and the environmental threats.

Ladies and Gentlemen,  

The Global Strategy is a ground-breaking effort which has as one of the key recommendations that agriculture be integrated into national statistical systems. The Regional Action Plan for Asia and the Pacific defines the areas of support that the Asia Pacific region needs in terms of technical assistance, training and research to strengthen national capacities  in a sustainable way. We need to ensure its success by contributing our best.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This is a historical opportunity to enable countries to develop sustainable statistical systems which will produce accurate and reliable agricultural and rural data – comparable over time and across countries for use by decision-makers. However, a necessary condition for the Strategy to succeed is the political will and commitment of the governments to benefit from the initiative. Governments need to demonstrate ownership and commitment by funding regular statistical services to produce the minimum core set of data.

I am convinced that with our strong partnership with ESCAP and ADB, our member countries and other leading institutions present here, we together will improve the evidence base of policy making of the agricultural sector in the region.

Finally, let me acknowledge the hard work of the secretariat staff in FAO and ESCAP in the preparation and organization of this meeting. I would also like to thank our colleagues and partner organizations, for presentations they will make to assist understanding and discussion. 

I wish you all success in your discussions and a pleasant stay in Thailand.

Thank you.