Minas K. Papademetriou 
Welcome to the FAO Regional Office and to this Expert Consultation. This consultation has been organized and sponsored by the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific. I am grateful to all of you for coming here to contribute to this meeting.
The lychee is one of the popular fruits in many countries of the region. Production is expanding in several countries but more rapidly in China, Viet Nam and Australia, where there is strong demand for exotic fruit and fruit with export potential.
Good progress has been made in lychee development in certain countries of the region, while in others the progress is very limited. The opportunities for further development of the lychee industry appear to be good. However, at the same time there are various and serious problems to be addressed. I am sure that production issues will be adequately deliberated during this consultation and some useful conclusions and recommendations will be drawn.
Strengthening cooperation among countries, institutions and individual scientists in lychee development is very important. This forum will allow us to learn from each other. We must explore the possibilities of sharing our experiences for mutual benefit. It is in this context, that this consultation has been convened. Briefly, its objectives are the following:
a) To review the status of lychee production in Asia and the Pacific and discuss the problems faced as well as strategies required to overcome existing problems.
b) Elaborate on the potential and opportunities for lychee development.
c) Discuss ways and means of strengthening collaboration on lychee research and development.
I wish you all productive discussions and good contacts among one another for the exchange of information, experience and expertise.
Thank you for your attention.
 Senior Plant Production and
Protection Officer, FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok,