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1. At the invitation of the Government of the Republic of Korea, the Nineteenth Session of the Asia and Pacific Commission on Agricultural Statistics (APCAS) was organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), in Seoul, Korea from 21 to 25 October 2002.

2. The Session opened with the inaugural address by HE Jung Ho Kim, Deputy Minister for Agriculture and Forestry, Republic of Korea. In this address he expressed his happiness that by hosting the Nineteenth Session of the APCAS, his government became the first country in the new millennium to host a biennial session of the Commission. He pointed out that this was the third time that the Republic of Korea was hosting a session of the Commission. He expressed the hope that this Session would give member countries the opportunity to exchange ideas on how agricultural statistics might be used best at both country and regional levels. Further, he noted that the session would allow the countries not only to review preparations for the World Census of Agriculture 2010 but also to learn about the use of the latest technologies in the collection and tabulation of statistical data.

3. HE Kim added that agriculture was very significant for the countries in the Asia-Pacific region where more than 800 million people were malnourished and where more than two thirds of the world's population suffering from starvation and poverty lived. Accordingly, agricultural development was crucial for the region and it was important that close cooperation existed between the countries. He stated that countries faced the challenge of meeting the increasing demand for reliable and timely statistics in order to establish agricultural policies, implement decision-making for agribusinesses and carry out research to resolve problems related to agriculture. He foresaw requests for new kinds of statistics for specialized agriculture and an information-oriented society. In conclusion, he hoped that the session would be fruitful and that the delegates would have a pleasant stay in Korea.

4. Mr Slamet Mukeno, Deputy for Economic Statistics, BPS Statistics Indonesia, representing the outgoing Chair of the Eighteenth Session of APCAS, stated in his opening remarks that many developments in agricultural statistics had taken place since the Eighteenth Session. Because of the changing international environment, the dependence of policymakers on more current and more comprehensive data had increased. He suggested that the Commission might like to look further into this aspect during the Nineteenth Session. He felt that this Session would further provide member states an opportunity to exchange ideas and help in developing statistical methods and tools.

5. Mr Frederick Baker read the statement of Mr He Changchui, Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific. In his statement, Mr He thanked the of the Republic of Korea for hosting and providing excellent facilities for the Nineteenth Session. Mr He stated that with the emergence of new methods of telecommunications, more efficient transportation, better marketing channels, higher yields for food production and innovative methods of processing, the flow of goods and services between and within countries had improved. In this changing environment, there was an urgent need to tackle existing problems like poverty, hunger and provision of nutritionally adequate and safe food.

6. Referring to the Twenty-sixth Regional Conference for Asia and the Pacific held in Nepal in May 2002, Mr He stated that the member countries had recognized the importance of food security and extended support to the application of food insecurity and vulnerability information mapping systems (FIVIMS). FAO's support to the member countries in establishing and strengthening national FIVIMS was solicited. In this context, Mr He reported that with the help of the Italian Government, FAO and the Government of Viet Nam, a food security information unit had already been established in Viet Nam. Further, a regional FIVIMS project funded by the Government of Japan had been initiated in the five countries of Bangladesh, Cambodia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

7. Mr He also mentioned that FAO had already initiated efforts to prepare the Programme for World Census of Agriculture 2010 and was pleased that the delegates of the Commission would participate in early discussions about this important activity. Mr He referred to the value of the latest technological developments for agricultural data collection and analysis and their contribution to providing more timely information for policymakers both in public and private sectors. Furthermore, Mr He encouraged the Commission to promote the use of more practical indicators for decision makers in the monitoring and evaluation of policies for the agriculture sector. Mr He recognized the importance of inland capture fisheries as a contributor to food security and indicated the need to obtain better information about them. Mr He was encouraged by the efforts of the Government of Myanmar to include information on aquaculture and inland fisheries in its next agricultural census. Mr He also noted the shift in the responsibility for forest resource management from the public to the private sector and suggested that new methods might be necessary for collecting and disseminating forestry statistics.

8. Finally, Mr He expressed his gratitude to the donor community, particularly to the Government of Japan, which had responded promptly to the requests for regional projects to improve agricultural statistics in the region and facilitate the exchange of information. In conclusion, Mr He conveyed his gratitude to the Government of the Republic of Korea for hosting the Session and acknowledged the hard work of government and FAO staff in organizing and conducting it.

9. Mr Haluk Kasnakoglu, Director of Statistics Division, ESS, FAO headquarters, briefly explained the role of the division. He stated that the division received various statistics on food and agriculture from countries, then compiled and disseminated them. He noted that the statisticians of the countries of the Asia-Pacific region had made an important contribution to the role of the Statistics Division and he lauded them for it.

10. Mr Frederick Baker, APCAS Secretary, presented the vote of thanks. He expressed his appreciation and thanks to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of the Republic of Korea for hosting the Nineteenth Session of APCAS in Seoul. He also thanked the delegates, observers and his colleagues working in the Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific and in the Statistics Division in Rome for their assistance and contribution to the organization of the session.

11. Mr Lee Sang Kil, Director-General of Agricultural Information and Statistics Bureau, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Republic of Korea, was unanimously elected Chairman of the Nineteenth Session. Mr N. Ekambaram (India) was elected First Vice-Chairman and Ms Rajana Netsaengtip (Thailand), the Second Vice-Chairman.

12. The Commission constituted a Drafting Committee. Mr Romeo Recide (Philippines) was elected Chairman of the Committee. Mrs Jirawan Boonperm (Thailand), Mr Allan Nicholls (Australia), Mr D.K. Trehan (FAO consultant), Mr Hiek Som (FAO/ESS) and Mr Frederick Baker (APCAS Secretary), were co-opted to the Committee.

13. The Session adopted the agenda given in Appendix A. A list of delegates and observers is given in Appendix B, and a list of documents in Appendix C. Speeches of the dignitaries are in Appendices D and E. The list of member countries of the Commission, as of November 2002, is given in Appendix F.

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