14. The Secretary of the Commission introduced the document on FAO's activities in food and agricultural statistics during 2000-2002 in the Asia and Pacific region. The Commission was informed that the Twenty-sixth Meeting of FAO's Regional Conference for Asia and the Pacific (APRC) was held in Kathmandu, Nepal in May 2002. Three weeks later, the World Food Summit: five years later (WFS:fyl) was held in Rome. Both meetings reaffirmed the importance of strengthening national and regional early warning systems and of collecting and analyzing data to identify food insecure and vulnerable people. The Commission was informed that the Programme for the World Census of Agriculture 2000 was a continuing activity, but that preparation of the Programme for World Census of Agricultural 2010 had already begun. Technical cooperation was being extended to member countries for the improvement of their national statistical systems
15. The Secretary informed the Commission that high priority was given by FAO to the maintenance and electronic dissemination of the database on food and agricultural statistics. He stated that efforts were underway to upgrade the scope and capabilities of FAOSTAT, which currently was unable to meet some requirements of users. The new system, FAOSTAT2, would utilize powerful software to facilitate more extensive analysis with access to more data sets. FAOSTAT2 would be designed to have four components, namely: the working system, the dissemination system, the reference data management system and the metadata repository.
16. The Commission was advised that an integrated statistical framework consisting of a supply and utilization database for food and agricultural commodities could be a powerful tool for making the best use of available statistical information in formulating plans for development of the food and agricultural sector. Establishing such an integrated system would also help to pinpoint many inconsistencies in the statistical series, leading to a better recognition of the need to improve statistics on food and agriculture. The Commission noted that FAO had implemented new data collection methods through utilization of the Internet and virtual questionnaires to collect and verify data on production of primary and derived agricultural products, livestock numbers and livestock products, land use, and many other basic agriculture statistics.
17. The Commission learned that, in addition to the FAO series of yearbooks and the RAP annual publication on Selected indicators of food and agriculture development in Asia-Pacific region, FAO had prepared handbooks on the compilation of environmental indicators for agriculture and on the preparation of economic accounts for agriculture. The methodology for the integration of time-use surveys with cost-of-production surveys as a means of deriving gender-disaggregated data had been updated.
18. The Secretary noted that at present, work on spatial information management and decision support tools was continuing. In addition, techniques had been developed for the calculation of the number of undernourished persons in a country based on food consumption statistics from household income and expenditure surveys and that a workshop on this topic, using data provided by the countries of the region, had been conducted in Bangkok in August 2002.
19. The Commission was informed that the Sixth Meeting of the Interagency Working Group (IAWG) on FIVIMS was held in June 2002 in Managua, Nicaragua. Among the constraints identified as obstacles to setting up FIVIMS were the low priority given by politicians to food security, lack of resources and under utilization of data. The IAWG had pointed out the importance of using the resources of universities and civil society organizations to overcome these obstacles. The Secretary mentioned that the indicators that had been proposed by the Millennium Summit of the UN were part of the FIVIMS databases; these 48 indicators were important measures of progress toward the goals of eliminating poverty and reducing the number of undernourished. In this respect, it was noted that more accurate estimation of both fisheries and cereal stocks would improve the preparation and reliability of food balance sheets.
20. Pursuant to the recommendations of the Sixteenth Session of the APCAS held in Tokyo, the Government of Japan had funded two regional projects, one in 1998 and the second in 2001. A major objective of the projects was to establish a regional information exchange system among member countries. As part of the activities of these projects to improve food and agricultural statistics in the region, a workshop on agricultural surveys based on multiple frame sampling methods was jointly organized in Bangkok, Thailand in November 2000 by FAO and the UN Statistical Institute for Asia and the Pacific. A workshop on improvement of fishery statistics in Asia and Pacific countries was conducted in August 2001. The first meeting of focal points for the second regional project was held in Bangkok in August 2002.
21. In recognition of the need to improve data on inland capture fisheries, several meetings on this topic were held and a workshop on new approaches for the improvement of inland capture fishery statistics in the Mekong Basin was organized in September 2002 by the Mekong River Commission, FAO and the Department of Fisheries (Thailand) in collaboration with the FAO/Netherlands Partnership Programme.
22. The Commission learned that during an expert consultation on agribusiness statistics in Bangkok in September 2001, guidelines were developed on building agribusiness statistical information systems (ASIS) around entrepreneurs and focusing information on production and marketing centers. The expert consultation had recommended that countries should take advantage of data producer-user fora, national and regional level training programmes, workshops and symposia to identify user data requirements to ensure that users were aware of the ASIS, and that the information in ASIS would be used to the greatest extent possible. The expert consultation proposed that technical assistance should be directed toward building capacity on analysis and dissemination in national statistics offices and/or national agricultural statistics services.
23. In order to improve the quality and timeliness of forestry statistics, a workshop for Asian countries on forest products statistics was held in the FAO Regional Office in June this year. The workshop explored ways of strengthening the capability of Asian countries to collect and analyze forestry data. It was noted that a similar workshop would be held for Pacific countries in December. It was explained that because many agricultural farmlands were formerly forestlands that had been cleared for agricultural purposes, current agricultural surveys could be used to gain information on the extent of this activity.
24. The Secretary also explained that FAO had continued to provide technical assistance to member countries. Direct assistance was provided to Indonesia on the improvement of livestock statistics, to Cook Islands, Myanmar and Tonga on the conduct of agricultural censuses and to Viet Nam on the analysis of agricultural census results. Continuing support was extended to long-term projects related to the development of programmes in agricultural statistics and early warning systems in Bangladesh, Cambodia and Viet Nam.
25. The Commission learned that ESCAP sponsored four sub-regional workshops on environment statistics. The venues were Bangkok, Hyderabad and Port Vila, Vanuatu. In these workshops, FAO resource persons were invited to elaborate on statistics on land use, soil loss and deterioration and other environment-related indicators.
26. The Commission acknowledged and appreciated FAO's efforts in the field of agricultural statistics during the last two years, especially in the successful implementation of various projects in the Region.