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(Item 1 of the Agenda)

3. Following the opening prayer given by Mr Sefuiva Reupena MUGUTUTIA (Samoa), Mr Vili FUAVAO, FAO Subregional Representative for the Pacific (SAPA) welcomed the participants to the venue on behalf of the Director-General of FAO. He expressed his appreciation for their attendance at the workshop and pointed out the importance of reliable and timely data in decision-making. He also noted that in the Pacific the value of such data had not been always appreciated. In addition, he stressed the importance of having indicators and corresponding data to measure progress towards food security and poverty reduction. He thanked the Ministry of Agriculture, Sugar and Land Resettlement of Fiji for its continuing support of FAO activities and encouraged the participants to make recommendations about appropriate indicators and about capacity-building strategies that would guide donor agencies and FAO in the strengthening of food and agricultural statistics in the Subregion. The inaugural address is found in Annex 3.

4. In her opening remarks, Mrs Fusi VAVE, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Sugar and Land Resettlement, welcomed to Fiji the participants in the workshop and emphasized the importance of timely and reliable information for monitoring and evaluating food security and poverty reduction programmes.

5. She pointed out the recent national activities in establishing Food Insecurity Vulnerability Information and Mapping Systems (FIVIMS) in Fiji and of the necessity for other countries in the region to take similar actions.

6. Mrs Vave noted also that the analysis of information is important and that strengthening the capacity of both data producers and data users in analysis and in utilising these results in decision-making should be priorities.

7. In his opening remarks, Mr Frederick BAKER, Senior Statistician, FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, noted the diverse background of the participants attending the meeting; there were statisticians, economists, agronomists and nutritionists representing both national statistics offices and ministries of agriculture. Their experiences would be very useful for the meeting to formulate recommendations for the attention of FAO, its member countries, various regional institutions and donors. He mentioned that the World Bank had provided financial assistance for conducting the workshop. Mr Baker also outlined three tasks that required special attention of the participants, i.e. (i) development of country-specific definitions of poverty and identification of relevant indicators; (ii) recommendations for strengthening food and agriculture statistics in each country; and (iii) a medium-term strategy for capacity building for professionals working with food and agriculture statistics.

8. He mentioned that the preliminary efforts of the participants to outline existing agricultural statistics activities, to provide a country “definition” of poverty and to propose recommendations for strengthening agricultural statistics in the Pacific were posted on the wall of the venue and could be reviewed during the work group discussions. He was confident that the participants would discuss the issues in a constructive manner, both in the formal sessions and in the work groups and that their recommendations would be useful contributions to the strengthening of food and agriculture statistics in the Pacific.

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