27. Mr Allan Nicholls presented a paper on Australian agricultural statistics. He mentioned that recent developments in agricultural statistics in Australia included the investigation and construction of a new frame for identifying agricultural businesses, investigation of options for geocoding agricultural data, and a broadening of focus to include environmental and social issues. A recent review of these statistics revealed that better coordination among the different organizations collecting and reporting statistics, development of an information model which recognized the roles and responsibilities of different providers of agricultural data, and the updating of the frames were key points for improvement of agricultural statistics. The Commission was informed about the development of an Australian Business Register (ABR), which would provide an updated list of businesses operating in Australia, including the majority of agricultural businesses. The ABR would result in long-term cost savings in frame maintenance. Some work had also been undertaken in geocoding census data so that publishing of agricultural census results could be done in a more detailed and flexible manner.
28. Mr Nicholls also informed the Commission that recent statistical activities included the conduct of the Agricultural Activity Survey (2001-2002) and the generation of statistics on livestock slaughtering and environmental issues. He also noted that there had been some changes to the arrangements for collecting agricultural finance survey data. Lastly, he informed the Commission that the state governments and the Australian Bureau of Statistics had been working together to develop spatial databases for farm operators.
29. Mr M.H. Rahman explained the status of agriculture and agricultural statistics in Bangladesh. He stated that about 84 percent of the population of Bangladesh depended directly or indirectly on agriculture. About 20 percent of GDP came from the agriculture sector, although this share has been slightly declining over the last few years due to structural changes in the economy. The Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), the national statistical organization, provided all data for the country. BBS had recently been put under the Planning Division in place of a separate Division of the Ministry of Planning. BBS had 23 regional statistical offices and 483 upazila statistical offices. It had seven wings, one of which handled both agriculture statistics and the agricultural census. Other wings collect, compile and disseminate information and conduct surveys/censuses in their respective areas of jurisdiction. The production of major crops like rice, wheat and jute were estimated through sample surveys while those of other crops were estimated subjectively. Agricultural census operations were carried out by BBS under the Census Act. Mr Rahman noted that the Ministry of Agriculture brought out a publication Handbook of agriculture statistics yearly. He shared with the Commission some statistics describing the agricultural sector in Bangladesh.
30. The paper on agricultural statistics in Cambodia was presented by Mr Kith Seng. The main source of food and agricultural data in Cambodia was the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) while the National Institute of Statistics (NIS) also had a unit responsible for agricultural statistics. In MAFF, the Department of Planning, Statistics and International Cooperation (DPSIC) was the major agency for the coordination and production of agricultural data. Mr Kith explained that Cambodia had yet to conduct an agricultural census mainly because of financial constraints. In the year 2000, DPSIC initiated the use of probability sample surveys in six priority provinces to provide estimates of area and production of paddy and inventory of livestock. In 2001, the survey was extended to cover 14 provinces. In 2002 the plan was to include 17 provinces that accounted for 90 percent of area under paddy in the country. Mr Kith informed the Commission that the main problems in the field of agricultural statistics in Cambodia were inadequacy of financial resources and limited capacity of the existing data collection network to collect, supervise, manage, report and process agricultural data.
31. With reference to the quality of data, Mr Kith reported that results of survey estimates of crop area from 2000 and 2001 showed that the subjective assessment of paddy area was quite reliable. Areas reported by farmers at household level were also found to be reliable. Yields based on eye estimation, however, were found to be generally lower than the yields obtained by the interview method, which in turn were lower than yields from crop-cutting surveys.
32. Mr Zhang Tianzuo presented a paper on content, methodology and reform perspectives on rural statistics in China. He related that agricultural statistics in China were collected through an agricultural census and sample surveys. While the agricultural census had been carried out only once (in 1997), the sample surveys were undertaken more often. These surveys included: (a) rural household sample survey; (b) agricultural output and sown area sample survey; (c) livestock survey; (d) rural society and economy statistics survey; (e) survey on statistics of agriculture, forestry, animal husbandry and fisheries; (f) comprehensive statistics of agricultural production value survey; (g) basic information survey of counties and cities; and (h) ad-hoc surveys.
33. Mr Zhang also informed that data were processed basically in an electronic way and statistics were disseminated through various media: network, TV broadcasting, publications and others. The Commission was informed that indicators could not satisfy the demand of decision-makers and other users because of problems in measurement, timeliness and quality. Reforms were being proposed to address these probleMs Future plans included the construction of economic accounts for agriculture and further strengthening of the current indicators system.
34. Mr N. Ekambaram presented the paper on agricultural statistics in India. He informed that the agricultural statistical system in India was decentralized. The Directorate of Economics and Statistics in the Union Ministry of Agriculture was the agency responsible for coordinating and disseminating most of the national level data on agriculture. These data were obtained from the states where data were collected and compiled according to the procedures prescribed by the Central Statistical Organization in the Ministry of Statistics and Program Implementation.
35. Data on crop area and land use emanated from village records and yield rates were obtained through crop-cutting surveys. Other agricultural data were generated from censuses, sample surveys and administrative mechanisMs Agriculture and livestock censuses were conducted once in five years.
36. Information technology was now being introduced for collecting and disseminating data. All data source agencies were proposed to be connected through a nationwide network in the near future. The Commission was informed that local area networks (LANs) were being established in all offices as part of the implementation of e-governance. In this respect, it was necessary to develop databases with a common data structure and software for agricultural statistics at the national and state levels.
37. Methods of forecasting crop production were being developed using remote sensing techniques and ground-based observations. Also, there was a need for supply utilization tables, food balance sheets and satellite accounts for agriculture in line with the System of Economic Accounts For Agriculture (SEAFA) to be made part of the agricultural statistics compiled in the country.
38. Mr Slamet Mukeno presented a review of the present state of agricultural statistics in Indonesia. He reported that the national statistical system in Indonesia was centralized and that statistics collection was authorized by recently enacted legislation. The statistics for agriculture were collected through three sources, namely: (a) agricultural censuses; (b) surveys; and (c) secondary data collected by other institutions such as Department of Agriculture, Department of Forestry, Department of Ocean Affairs and Fisheries, and others. The agricultural census was conducted once every ten years and, at present, BPS Statistics Indonesia was preparing for the Fifth Agricultural Census to be carried out in 2003. This census would be done in three phases and would cover areas not included in previous censuses.
39. Agricultural surveys, on the other hand, were being carried out to collect statistics on food and horticultural crops. One of the most important activities in agricultural data collection was the forecasting of food crop production. Five forecasts were provided each year for the main crops of paddy, maize and soybeans. Data on fisheries, livestock, estate crops, and forestry would be gathered from secondary sources. The Commission was informed of problems and obstacles in data collection, foremost of which were financial constraints and lack of trained personnel. It was also cited that timeliness of data dissemination needed to be improved.
40. Mr Alireza Hatami presented a paper that reviewed the present state of food and agricultural statistics in Iran. He informed that agriculture was one of the most important economic sectors of Iran. It employed 3.5 million people representing 23 percent of total employment. The Bureau of Statistics and Information Technology, Ministry of Jihad-e-Agriculture, was responsible for compiling, processing, publishing and disseminating information on the agricultural sector. In addition, it carried out the following activities: (a) conducting the agricultural sample survey; (b) designing a system for compiling data from administrative records; (c) compiling statistical reports from other subdivisions of the Ministry; (d) applying GIS and Remote Sensing Technology; (e) computerizing operations and other computer services; and (f) designing and maintaining the home page of the Ministry. It also had an important role in designing and implementing general agricultural censuses, which according to regulation were the responsibility of the Statistical Center of Iran.
41. During the current year, nine sample surveys on important crops of Iran had been planned. The country was now preparing for its fourth agricultural census to be conducted in 2003. Through this census, information on the structural aspects of agricultural holdings, land use trends, crop production, livestock inventory and other related information would be collected. Census results would also serve as a frame for other agricultural sample surveys and provide data for small administrative units.
42. Mr Masataka Hishiyama presented a paper on the present state of statistics and information on agriculture, forestry and fisheries in Japan. He informed that in Japan the statistics were collected through a decentralized system in which each ministry and agency individually undertook statistical surveys in the areas for which they were responsible. Statistics on agriculture, forestry, and fisheries were collected by the Statistics and Information Department (SID) of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) through: (a) censuses of agriculture, forestry and fisheries; (b) annual surveys on the structure of the agricultural sector; (c) surveys on the actual state of economic activities of farmers, including surveys on management and agricultural household economy; costs, and prices; (d) surveys on actual state of resource utilization and production, including surveys on cultivated crop area, production and forecasting; and (e) surveys on distribution of agricultural products, including surveys on food supply system, prices at distribution stages and food losses.
43. In all, about a hundred different surveys on agriculture, forestry, and fisheries were conducted in Japan. The Government of Japan was using information technologies for evaluation and processing of data. SID had implemented several steps to improve the survey methods by using the latest information and communication technology like remote sensing, Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology and rural community mapping systeMs SID had also made several reforms in agricultural statistics so as to meet the emerging policy requirements. Some of these reforms were: (a) making efforts to collect statistics which conformed to new administrative needs, and (b) enhancing the capacity to collect and disseminate information.
44. The Commission was informed about assistance being extended by Japan in the field of statistics on agriculture, forestry and fisheries to other countries of the Asia and Pacific region.
REPUBLIC OF KOREA
45. Mr Song Joo-Ho presented a paper on agriculture statistics in the Republic of Korea. The paper was divided into three parts, namely: the agricultural statistics organization, recent activities of agricultural statistics and future plans. The collection of agricultural statistics in the Republic of Korea was being undertaken by the Agricultural Information and Statistics Bureau (AISB) and the National Agricultural Products Quality Management Service (NAQS) of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) and by the Korean National Statistical Office (KNSO).
46. The Commission was informed that recent agricultural statistics activities included: (a) the conduct of a census on agriculture, fisheries and forestry, (b) improvement of agricultural statistics by redesigning several sample surveys and by developing new statistics according to changes in the agricultural sector, (c) generation of diverse and detailed statistics to meet new demands, (d) provision of agricultural information to enable farmers to better plan their production and (e) use of computer and information technology for compilation and dissemination of information. Future plans reported by Mr Song included the following areas: (a) compiling user-oriented high-quality statistics; (b) strengthening expertise in statistics; (c) improving the digitalization of agricultural sector and rural communities; (d) expanding and sharing agricultural statistics database; and (e) establishing agricultural statistics based on international standards.
47. Mr Samaychanh Boupha outlined the importance of agriculture to the Lao PDR economy and the consequent requirement by the government for comprehensive agricultural statistics. The statistical system had been originally designed to serve a centrally planned economy and subsequently was required to adjust to meet the needs of a market economy. This change caused problems because the decentralized and multi-layered collection system generally provided data of low quality.
48. The Commission was informed about the responsibilities of the Statistics Division within the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. It was further informed about the organization of the first agriculture census in Lao PDR in 1998/99 and the 2002 Expenditure and Consumption Survey. The main problems with the statistical system were the quality of the data (because of inadequate training of field staff), communication problems, a general lack of standards, and data being largely based on administrative systeMs
49. Future plans included expansion of the scope of agricultural statistics, introduction of more sample surveys, and improvement and upgrading of skills.
50. Mr Amran bin Othman provided some background information on Malaysia, stressing the importance of agriculture to the Malaysian economy. The country's Third National Agricultural Policy was outlined, as were the main statistics pertaining to agriculture and the arrangements for collecting them. The sources of agricultural statistics in Malaysia were the department and agencies under the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) and the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI). Agencies under the MOA provided statistics relating to food crops and the smallholder sector while the agencies under the MPI provided statistics on industrial crops such as rubber, oil palm, cocoa and tobacco. Some of the major surveys undertaken in the agricultural sectors were Supply Monitoring Survey, the Cost and Marketing Margin Survey of Selected Fruits and Flowers, Cost of Production Survey, Total Working Hours and Survey on Attitude of Farmers, Fishermen and the Small Holders.
51. The Statistical System in the MOA, Malaysia, was decentralized with each agency collecting statistics pertaining to their specific concerns. Major crop statistics such as rubber, oil palm, coconut, paddy and cocoa were collected by the Department of Statistics, Malaysia, while statistics for other crops were collected by the respective agencies in the MOA. Collection of information pertaining to other crops was coordinated by the Macro and Strategic Planning Division, MOA and published separately in monthly and annual reports.
52. The Commission was informed that the quality of agricultural statistics over the years had improved; yet certain further improvements were required to meet future data needs. For instance, the Inter-Agency Planning Group (IAPG) on agriculture had identified data gaps in the statistics on agricultural operations and socio-economics. There was also a need to fine-tune statistics on support services such as farm financing, transport services, post harvest facilities and types of services needed by farmers. The Commission was also informed that the Ministry of Agriculture, Malaysia would conduct an agricultural census in 2004.
53. Mr U Win Kyi reported on the status of agriculture statistics in Myanmar. He gave some background information on Myanmar, noting that agriculture accounted for 63 percent of the labour force, 34 percent of GDP and 23 percent of export earnings. He informed the Commission that a distinctive feature of the statistical base was the large-scale cadastral maps (1:3,960) that were used as bases for compiling statistics by area. It was also noted that information on the crop areas was collected by complete enumeration using field staff familiar with the local area and conditions.
54. The Commission was informed that the statistical system of Myanmar was decentralized with a number of organizations providing data on agricultural statistics. It was further informed of the current work on crop forecasting, crop surveys and crop-cutting surveys. Reference was also made to previous agricultural censuses in 1953/54 and 1993, and to the preparations for the next agricultural census, which would be a complete enumeration during the period of February to April 2003. Every household would receive a short form with screening questions while a more detailed form would be completed for all agricultural holdings. For livestock and aquaculture holdings a 20 percent sample would be used. Issues of concern included data processing and data analysis.
55. Mr Rabi Singh presented a paper on state of food and agriculture statistics in Nepal. In Nepal the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) was the major statistical agency that collected, processed and disseminated data from primary and secondary resources. The agricultural statistics in Nepal were being collected through agricultural censuses and through sample surveys. The CBS had already conducted the agricultural census for the year 2001-2002 through which data from around 150,000 agricultural holdings were gathered. While census data were collected every ten years, data for inter-censal periods were collected through sample surveys. In this regard, the Crop and Livestock Survey (CLS) was an important survey that provided current estimates of the area harvested and production for different crops and inventories of livestock during the reference period. Mr Singh reported, however, that the crop forecasting portion of the CLS needed to be improved to achieve better timeliness and accuracy.
56. Mr Singh informed that the Government of Nepal had received technical assistance from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to improve the scope and quality of agricultural statistics. CBS was able to progressively decentralize data processing systems by installing computers in Branch Statistical Offices and providing training to the staff in those offices. Despite certain improvements achieved with the assistance of ADB, there was a need for some fundamental structural changes as the existing system lacked a comprehensive statistical development plan, resulting in several probleMs To address these problems, a Consolidated National Statistical Plan had been prepared with the assistance from ADB. Approval and implementation of this Plan was still under study by the government.
57. Mr David Lillis presented a paper on the state of agricultural statistics in New Zealand. He stated that New Zealand had conducted an annual agricultural data collection until it was ceased in 1996. Collection of agricultural statistics resumed in 1999 in response to serious problems that arose from the absence of the statistics. Agricultural statistics were needed badly, not only for policy formulation and planning, but also for international trade negotiations. Reactivating the collection of statistics required a lot of work and considerable resources in order to finalize the frame and design the survey questionnaires. He informed that the statistics to be collected included: area and production of grassland, arable land, forest areas; numbers of dairy and beef cattle; grain production; seed production; and area statistics for fruits, nuts and vegetables. He added that provisional estimates in the form of summary tables and reports would be available in February 2003 and final estimates would be published in May 2003. In the future, for agriculture and forestry, a census covering key data items every five years would be supplemented by annual inter-censal surveys of particular industries or activities. Annual collection would help in the compilation of time series data for major agricultural activities and provide necessary assistance for policy formulation.
58. The Commission received the report on the current state of agricultural statistics in Pakistan. In this report, the organization and management of statistical activities in Pakistan were presented. The existing system of collecting data on various aspects of Pakistan agriculture was also described in detail in the paper.
59. The Commission learned that Pakistan had a history of conducting the agricultural census every ten years since 1960. The last census of agriculture was conducted in 1990. The report did not indicate plans for the conduct of another census.
60. The report emphasized that agricultural statistics were extremely important for an agrarian country like Pakistan. Among the critical users of agricultural data were government officials at all levels, farmers and the agribusiness community. The availability of adequate, timely and accurate statistical information had become even more important as Pakistan moved towards modernizing and commercializing its agricultural sector.
61. Mr Romeo Recide presented to the Commission the highlights of the developments in the agricultural statistics system in the Philippines since the Eighteenth Session of the APCAS. The Commission was informed that a recently enacted law mandated the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) to be the central information server of the Department of Agriculture National Information Network and to provide technical assistance to farmers and fisherfolk on the analysis and utilization of production and marketing information.
62. To prepare itself for addressing these new mandates, the BAS had re-oriented its structure to improve generation of production statistics, enhance application of information technology, consolidate administrative functions, tighten internal audit/control and streamline coordination of field activities.
63. In response to higher expectations and greater demands for data, the BAS had implemented new or enhanced statistical activities. These included: (a) updating of food consumption data; (b) updating of costs-and-returns structures; (c) conducting studies on marketing costs and earnings and commodity utilization; (d) developing early warning systems; (e) generating details from the Labor Force Survey; and (f) compiling environment and gender-related data.
64. In addition, the BAS had been implementing the data analysis and utilization project funded by FAO, a rural sector statistical information system project with the World Bank and the grain sector development programme with support from the Asian Development Bank. The last programme aimed to assist the BAS to formulate corporate, human resource and statistical methods development plans.
65. The Commission was informed that the National Statistics Office, in close coordination with the BAS, had been preparing for the conduct of the next census of agriculture and census of fisheries in 2003 following the guidelines of the FAO Programme for World Census of Agriculture 2000. Both censuses would be large sample surveys.
66. Mr A.M.U. Dissanayake presented a paper on the national information system of agricultural statistics in Sri Lanka with special reference to the Census of Agriculture 2002. He explained that the statistical system in Sri Lanka was basically centralized. The Department of Census and Statistics was vested with legal authority to carry out all types of socio-economic censuses under the Census Ordinance. The statistical programs undertaken by the Department included the implementation of annual/bi-annual surveys under the current statistical program and the conduct of censuses. The Census of Agriculture 2002 was carried out after a lapse of twenty years. In the planning of the census, special attention was focused on: (a) enhancing quality of data, (b) disseminating the data at lowest administrative division level and (c) reducing the time lag between census taking and dissemination of results. The data collection was undertaken by dividing the agricultural sector into two categories, namely, the estate sector or large holdings that were over 20 acres in extent, and the smallholding sector. Information pertaining to the estate sector or large holdings was collected through mailed questionnaires while personal interviews were used for smallholdings. A special feature of the census was the use of optical readers to process the main questionnaire so census results could be disseminated quickly.
67. Ms Suraporn Issaradetkul presented the paper "Agricultural Statistics in Thailand". She informed that the statistical system in Thailand was decentralized with the National Statistical Office (NSO) acting as the focal statistical organization. Being responsible for conducting all censuses and surveys, the NSO had been preparing for the next agricultural census that would be conducted in 2003. This census would collect data not only on agricultural operations in all holdings but also on fresh water fishery structure. The agricultural census methodology would be a combination of complete and sample enumeration. In this method, the questionnaire would be divided into two parts. The first part would be used for collecting data on the basic structure of all agricultural holdings whereas the second part would be used for collecting other agricultural structure data from a 25 percent sample of holdings.
68. The Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MOAC) was another main organization responsible for producing and publishing all current statistics obtained from sample surveys or as by-products of administration. The Office of Agricultural Economics (OAE), a department agency under the MOAC, was the office primarily responsible for the collection, compilation and dissemination of current agricultural statistics. The major surveys of the OAE included Major Crop Survey, Livestock and Poultry Survey, Socio-Economic Agricultural Household Survey, Cost of Production Survey, Agricultural Commodity Registration, Farm-gate Price Survey, and Crop Forecasting. The MOAC had implemented a project on farmers registration and identification card system with the objectives of (a) establishing an agricultural database that would be useful to farmers for marketing and raising prices of agricultural commodities, (b) developing production systems that would improve the quality of agricultural commodities, and (c) assisting farmers in obtaining agricultural credit.
69. OAE had also started using remote sensing and GIS techniques for collecting agricultural data and preparing agricultural resource maps to assist policy makers to plan more efficiently.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
70. Mr Larry Sivers presented a paper on agriculture statistics in the United States. He informed that the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) administered the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) program of collecting and publishing national and state agricultural statistics. The five functions of NASS which supported its mission were to: (a) provide accurate and timely estimates of current agricultural production and measures of economic and environmental welfare; (b) work with all 50 states to strengthen state-level programs of agricultural statistics; (c) provide statistical services to other USDA agencies; (d) provide consultancy and other services; and (e) improve statistical methodology through applied research.
71. The Commission was informed about the new endeavors of NASS. These were: (a) in August 2000, NASS staff established the cooperative agreement to support agricultural statistics in Puerto Rico; (b) NASS created an internal repository of historical microdata from more than 130 surveys, including the 1997 Census of Agriculture and selected surveys from 1997 onward; (c) developmental work was undertaken on an automated edit and imputation system called Agricultural Generalized Imputation Edit System (AGGIES); and (d) the results of 1997 Agricultural Census were made available.
72. In addition to the above, the following main reports were released: (a) on February 1, 2000, results of the first ever census of aquaculture which was conducted in 1998; (b) on March 31, 2000, results of the 1998 Census of Horticultural Specialties; (c) on November 8, 1999, the report on the 1998 Farm and Ranch Irrigation Survey; (d) in August 2001, results of the Agricultural Economics and Land Ownership Survey (AELOS), providing detailed information on the financial health of agricultural producers and landlords; and (e) in 2001, the New Geographic Information System (GIS) Cropland Data Layer Release which provided detailed data on cropland for six major crop-producing States.
73. The Commission was also informed that NASS was developing a detailed Respondent Burden Tracking and Management System to identify, track, analyze, understand, and ultimately better manage or minimize respondent burden.
74. Mr Pham Quang Vinh presented a paper on agricultural statistics in Viet Nam. He informed that the statistical system in Viet Nam was centralized with the General Statistical Office (GSO) as the main organization. GSO conducted surveys and censuses covering all sectors of the economy, including the agricultural sector. In regard to agricultural statistics, GSO was organized at four levels, namely: central, provincial, district and commune levels. GSO conducted the following major surveys in agriculture: (a) planted area and yield of crops; (b) livestock; (c) labour force, machinery, farm and cooperatives; (d) f forestry; and (e) fisheries.
75. The Commission was informed that the first agricultural census in Viet Nam was conducted in 1994 and the second in 2001. The results of the 2001 census were still being processed. The FAO had been assisting GSO through the project "Analysis of the Rural, Agricultural and Fisheries Census". There were several problems relating to agricultural statistics. Because information had to be collected from a large sample and GSO had limited resources, it was unable to collect all the information needed, particularly at micro level. Because of concern about the quality of data reported by provincial statistical offices, surveys had been conducted to evaluate their accuracy.
ASIAN PRODUCTIVITY ORGANIZATION (APO)
76. Mr Kunio Tsubota from the Asian Productivity Organization (APO) informed the Commission that APO activities were undertaken with the objective to increase productivity in the industrial sector in general, and the agricultural sector, in particular. Toward this end, the APO had been carrying out research studies and organizing seminars on various aspects of productivity. The APO had also been conducting a survey on agricultural productivity indicators. The APO worked through the respective national productivity organizations of member states. It had developed a questionnaire on productivity indicators that was sent to the national productivity organizations of member states. The Commission noted that APO shared concerns with the FAO in tackling the problem of food security, though APO was using a different approach. APO suggested therefore that the APO and the FAO should continue to coordinate their activities in the region.
UN ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMISSION FOR ASIA AND THE PACIFIC (ESCAP)
77. Ms Lene Mikkelsen made a statement regarding ESCAP's contribution to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). She reported that, as the Regional Commission for the UN in Asia and the Pacific, ESCAP had re-structured its work programme to better contribute to eradicating poverty and ensuring that progress did not bypass the poor and disadvantaged in this region. Together with the UNDP, ESCAP had pooled resources to staff a Poverty Centre that had been given the mandate to promote the MDGs in the region and to ensure that the success stories in poverty reduction were being shared.
78. The Commission noted that ESCAP's work on poverty in the next years will focus on the following areas: (a) statistical capacity building in countries; (b) improvement and harmonization of methodologies for poverty measurement; (c) improved coverage and quality of poverty-related indicators; (d) reconciliation of data from micro and macro-economic sources; (e) generation of more accurate purchasing power parities (PPPs); (f) development of poverty maps and other analytical tools; and (g) advocacy for the use of statistics in policy and planning.
79. The Commission was informed that through these activities ESCAP expected to contribute to a strengthened statistical capacity in countries to enable them to design appropriate poverty reduction strategies. A tangible aspect of these activities should be an improvement in cross-country data that were sufficiently comparable across time and space, as well as improved statistical tools for poverty analysis and measurement.
80. The Commission was further informed that ESCAP had an important comparative advantage in working in the poverty field. Being a Regional Commission rather than a specialized agency, allowed its statistical expertise to go beyond the direct measurement of poverty and related indicators to vital adjunct areas such as national accounts, PPPs, gender analysis, informal sector, environment and information technology.
SOUTHEAST ASIAN FISHERIES DEVELOPMENT CENTER (SEAFDEC)
81. Mr Panu Tavarutmaneegul, Secretary-General of the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC) made a statement during the Session. Mr Panu said that SEAFDEC recognized the importance of fishery statistics in policy making and in management of the fisheries sector. Accordingly, SEAFDEC has developed several fisheries statistical programmes to assist the member countries in the implementation of national fisheries statistical systeMs These include the compilation of fishery statistics at the regional level and organization of regional training workshops on the use of statistics. In November 2001, SEAFEDEC and ASEAN in collaboration with the FAO organized a conference on sustainable fisheries for food security in the new millennium, "Fish for the People". Pursuant to the recommendations made in this conference, SEAFDEC had designed a program on capacity building for national fishery statistics systems in developing countries of ASEAN. Mr Panu invited Member countries to collaborate on areas of mutual interest to ensure accurate, reliable and timely provision of fishery statistics in the ASEAN region.
OBSERVATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS BASED ON COUNTRY STATEMENTS
82. At the conclusion of the country statements, the Commission was pleased to learn of the initiatives being taken by the member countries for improving the quality, timeliness and comprehensiveness of data. These initiatives included the use of new tools like remote sensing and Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology, upgrading of skills through training and updating of sampling frames.
83. The Commission also noted that with globalization of the economies, the member countries recognized the need for developing objective techniques of forecasting and for creating, at the national and sub-national levels, agricultural statistics databases with common data structures and software. Furthermore, the growth of domestic and foreign trades in countries had made it important for many countries to collect various types of prices and other marketing-related information.
84. The Commission recommended that its future Sessions should include a presentation on remote sensing technology for estimation of area and production and for early forecasting of crop production. The Commission also recommended that the definitions and methodology for collection of cost of production data be standardized so that the cost data could be compared more easily across countries.
85. The Commission appreciated the technical assistance provided by FAO and recommended that FAO continue to provide such support, especially in the conduct of agricultural censuses and electronic survey data processing and analysis.
86. The Commission observed that organic farming had become an important agricultural activity in many countries and requested that information about this type of farming be collected in future agricultural censuses and surveys.
87. The Commission was of the opinion that an external review of an agricultural statistics programme, such as that done for the Australian programme, was valuable and that a similar exercise could be useful to member countries for the improvement of their agricultural statistics systems.