(Item 1 of the Agenda)
1. The Expert Consultation on Agribusiness Statistics was held at the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok on 11-14 September 2001. It was attended by representatives from China, Japan, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Philippines, and Thailand; a resource person from ESCAP of the United Nations, officers of the Food and Agriculture Organization, Bangkok. (The list of participants is shown as Annex 1).
2. The Expert Consultation was convened following the recommendation made at the Eighteenth Session of the Asia and Pacific Commission on Agricultural Statistics (APCAS) held in Bali in November 2000, that FAO should take the initiative in formulating a framework for a user-friendly Agribusiness Statistical Information System (ASIS) that responds to the increasing interest of member countries to use agribusiness as a major strategy for a sustained agriculture sector development in the region.
3. In his welcome address, the Chief of the Statistical Development Service at FAO Headquarters said that the objectives of the Expert Consultation were:
4. The Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative delivered the welcome address (Annex 4) on behalf of the FAO Director-General and on his own. He said he was gratified that the Asia-Pacific Rim, through the initiatives of the Asia and Pacific Commission on Agricultural Statistics (APCAS), has taken the lead in setting the foundation for an information network that would support an emerging economic activity. It was important, he continued, to restructure the statistics and information system in the light of the global liberalization of the markets.
5. Many countries in the region have started to recognize the importance of agribusiness as a tool in alleviating poverty and thus reduce the incidence of hunger and malnutrition. The agenda, he continued, aimed to cover various issues that would influence the development of a demand-driven agribusiness statistical information system at the national, regional and global levels. He noted that the resource papers described varied country experiences in responding to increasing pressures from data users for further sophistication in the statistical information to support agribusiness development.
6. He was optimistic that the Expert Consultation would be able to formulate sets of proposals on the development of agribusiness statistical information systems, taking into account the capabilities and limitations of the various countries. He said that it should also be possible to identify potential national or regional technical development assistance that would provide relief to identified national and regional level constraints in the generation and exchange of useful statistics in agriculture and agribusiness development.
7. He enjoined the participating Experts to exchange ideas and views constructively; this, he said, would contribute to the achievement to the objectives of the Expert Consultation. The Participants at the Meeting were invited in their capacity as experts rather than as representatives of their governments, to facilitate their exchange of ideas and views on an appropriate ASIS. The recommendations of the Consultation would be reported at the 19th Session of the APCAS to be held next year and would result in further action by FAO. He wished the Participants a fruitful meeting and pleasant stay in Thailand.