1. The Expert Consultation on Livestock Statistics was held at the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (RAP) in Bangkok, Thailand, on 8 to 11 July 2003. It was attended by ten experts in specialised areas of livestock statistics, an officer of Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) of the United Nations, and officers of the Food and Agriculture Organization, Bangkok and Rome. (The list of participants is found in Annex 1).
2. The Expert Consultation was convened following the recommendation made at the Nineteenth Session of the Asia and Pacific Commission on Agricultural Statistics (APCAS) held in Seoul, Republic of Korea, in October 2002, that FAO should provide updated guidelines for the collection, analysis and dissemination of agricultural sector data and that countries should collect information about livestock in agricultural censuses.
3. HE Changchui, Assistant Director-General and FAO Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific (RAP) welcomed the experts to the Regional Office on behalf of the FAO Director-General, Jacques DIOUF, and expressed his appreciation for their participation in the Expert Consultation. He pointed out the importance of reliable and timely data in decision-making and of the impact of information about the livestock sector on other sectors. He mentioned that with the phenomenal growth in the livestock sectors of countries of the Asia-Pacific region, there has been a similar growth in the consumption of livestock products. He indicated that heads of States and Governments had agreed, at the World Food Summit and at the UN Millennium Summit, to take actions leading to improvement in food security and alleviation of poverty. Although significant improvement has been made, he stressed that it was important to reduce hunger further by prioritizing food security.
4. He noted that Asian countries should generate reliable and timely information that was vital to better decision-making to ensure the sustainability of the livestock sector and that it was the responsibility of statisticians to provide that information.
5. He encouraged the experts to make recommendations about how countries could obtain the best possible information about the livestock sector, as a basis for enhanced quality of the analytical work. The inaugural address is found in Annex 4.
6. In his opening address, Hiek SOM, Chief, Statistical Development Service, FAO, mentioned that the FAO Statistics Division recognized the weaknesses of livestock statistics, both in terms of the quality of data and the methodologies available. Compared to crop statistics, data on livestock in FAOSTAT were much less complete. He said that FAO had issued guidelines on the subject, but additional methodological work was required, especially to deal with the traditional practices in the livestock sub-sector. More attention should be given by countries to improving the quality of their livestock data, on a gradual basis, to allow proper planning for the sector to play an adequate role in food security.
7. He mentioned that new and better methods and techniques for livestock statistics were necessary. He said that improving and intensifying the use of data were contributing factors in this respect. Advocacy in support of better livestock statistics was also needed.
8. Mr Som noted the diverse background of the Experts attending the meeting as well as the fact that they came from different regions of the world. There were statisticians, livestock specialists, academics and researchers, as well as policy analysts. Their experiences would be very useful in formulating recommendations for the attention of FAO and of its member countries. He indicated that three areas required the special attention of the Experts, i.e. a) strategies for improving national systems of livestock statistics, b) advocacy tools to gather support for statistical activities on livestock and livestock products; and c) methodologies and techniques to improve the quality of livestock statistics.
9. He was confident that the participants would discuss the issues in a friendly manner, in their individual capacity as experts. Their recommendations would constitute useful contributions to the development of additional guidelines on livestock statistics.