(Item 4 of the Agenda)
25. The document APCAS/04/04, "FAO's Activities in Food and Agricultural Statistics during 2002-2004 in the Asia and Pacific Region" was the first paper introduced in the Session. The Commission was informed that the Twenty-seventh Session of FAO's Asia and Pacific Regional Conference (APRC) was held in Beijing, China from 17-21 May 2004. The Commission was interested in the discussions and recommendations made by the Conference because of its implications for the development, priorities and directions of the national agricultural statistical programmes of the member countries, especially in support of the collection of indicators that would measure progress towards food security and poverty reduction. Among the recommendations relevant to APCAS were identification of important gaps in policies, resource allocation and implementation of activities needed to achieve WFS goals by member countries and the request for FAO's continued support in strengthening national capacities to analyze trade issues and to facilitate regional and subregional information sharing related to trade negotiations.
26. The Commission was informed that the promotion of agricultural census remained a priority for FAO with the Programme for the World Agricultural Census 2000 as the current reference for guidelines and recommendations but that efforts were under way to publish the FAO programme for the World Census of Agriculture 2010 (WCA 2010), covering agricultural censuses to be undertaken between 2006 and 2015. The Commission learned that in the WCA 2010, a new approach would be proposed for conducting agriculture censuses to help solve the problems of increasing demands for data, the high costs of census taking, and the complexity of census topics. The FAO activities which were valuable to the Commission were the assistance in the organization of the national census of agriculture of member countries and the workshops conducted to promote the use of the WCA 2000 thematic supplements as additional guidelines to collect structural statistics in the agricultural sector. The Commission was informed about the agricultural censuses carried out during the last two years by several countries from the Region including Iran, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, and Tonga. In addition, the Commission was informed that Malaysia was now preparing its first agricultural census since 1977 while Timor-Leste had recently completed a population and housing census that included questions on agriculture that would lead to better information about the agriculture sector.
27. It was noted that FAO's continued high priority on electronic dissemination of databases on food and agricultural statistics and the use of technology in the capture, processing and analysis of agricultural sector data had been of great assistance to member countries. The Commission was aware of the efforts of FAO in maintaining the database WAICENT, with its two components FAOSTAT and FAOINFO, which had been continuously reviewed and improved, and which could be accessed through the Internet and the Commission was encouraged that the redesigned database would be user-friendly and would include more flexibility through a wide-ranging number of new features. Furthermore, the Commission realized that in addition to the regular series of FAO yearbooks and quarterly bulletins of statistics issued regularly, a special publication on World Indicators, which included a variety of indicators of the Asia and Pacific region, had been produced at the request of the FAO Director-General.
28. FAO's contribution to the global effort of eradicating poverty through the establishment of Food Insecurity and Vulnerability Information and Mapping Systems (FIVIMS) was reported to the Commission as an FAO priority concern. The Commission was informed that a full time secretariat was established at FAO in Rome and that the 8th meeting of the Interagency Working Group (IAWG) on FIVIMS was held in Rome in April 2004 to discuss the results of the External Assessment on FIVIMS and to plan future activities. The Commission noted that the development of multisectoral indicators that included regional and national elements relevant to policy work would help regional and national partners to analyse their priority issues.
29. The Commission was reminded that the first regional project funded by the government of Japan on food and agricultural statistics and implemented in response to the recommendations of the Sixteenth Session of the Asia and Pacific Commission on Agricultural Statistics held in Tokyo in 1996 became operational in 1998 while the second project, "Strengthening the Regional Data Exchange System", started in 2001 with sixteen APCAS member countries participating in the projects. The Commission learned that the Second Focal Point meeting of the second project was held in Bangkok in March 2003 and that a website had been developed by the project: www.faorap-apcas.org. The Commission noted that the sixteen countries and Japan were loading data pertaining to area, production and yield for major crops as well as number of livestock in the website, which also contained information related to ongoing FAO activities in food and agricultural statistics in the region.
30. With regards to fishery statistics, the Commission was informed about a Regional Review on the Status and Potential of Fisheries and Aquaculture in Asia and the Pacific which summarized the current status of inland and marine fisheries resources and their contribution to national economies and food security. The Commission was also informed that there were suggestions and recommendations made about ways in which the existing statistics might be improved through cost-effective means, including the kind of information appropriate for inland fisheries management with strategies for obtaining the required information. The Commission recognized FAO's efforts to improve the status and trend reporting of fisheries and aquaculture in the region by upgrading the quality of information on fisheries. The Commission noted that some of the major activities relating to fisheries and aquaculture included an expert consultation on new approaches for the improvement of inland capture fishery statistics; an expert consultation on improving information on status and trend of aquaculture; the development of a strategy for improving information on status and trends of capture fisheries; implementation of fish code programme; the development of guidelines for a manual to help "co-managers" of fisheries to design and implement data collection systems and activities; and, a project to reduce conflicts and contribute to sustainable management of fisheries resources through effective decision-making.
31. The Commission learned that the 2002 FAO Yearbook of Forest Products was published in 2004 and contained annual data on the production and trade of forest products for the 1998-2002 period and that the information was also available on the FAO website. The Commission was informed that FAO had organized two workshops in Bangkok and Canberra with the aims of establishing a network/working group of statistical correspondents in member countries of FAO in the Asia-Pacific region and International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) and of strengthening the knowledge on the state of forest product statistics with innovative approaches to improve data quality. It was reported to the Commission that FAO regularly monitored the world's forests at the request of the member countries and the world community through the Forest Resource Assessment Programme. Further, the Commission was informed that the EC-FAO Partnership Programme on Information and Analysis for Sustainable Forest Management: Linking National and International Efforts in South Asia and Southeast Asia, completed in May 2003, had been implemented in 13 countries in South and Southeast Asia and had achieved its objectives.
32. Information about several workshops conducted solely by FAO or jointly with other UN agencies/World Bank in support of the regional capacity-building activities, was reported to the Commission: Data for Food Security in the Framework of an Integrated System of Agricultural Statistics, held in Bangkok in November 2002 with 20 participants from Asian countries; Expert Consultation on Livestock Statistics, conducted in Bangkok in July 2003 with eight experts from the region providing input for the improvement of livestock statistics by reviewing FAO recommendations and national methods for collecting data, particularly for nomadic and semi-nomadic livestock; FAO/World Bank workshop on Strengthening Agricultural Statistics in The Pacific in Support of Food Security and Poverty Reduction Strategies and Programmes, held in Nadi, Fiji, from 10 to 14 November 2003; and the Workshop on the Use of Major Databases and their Applications in Support of Agricultural and Rural Development Policies, held in Bangkok in May 2004 for senior statisticians and policy-makers from countries of the region.
33. The Commission appreciated FAO's direct technical assistance to Indonesia on livestock statistics; to Myanmar on preparation for agricultural census; to Tonga for the development of a sustainable agricultural statistics system; to Viet Nam on the analysis of the agricultural census and strengthening of a food security information system with funding from an Italian Trust fund project; to Cambodia on agricultural productivity improvement; and to Bangladesh on crop yield forecasting and agro-meteorology. The regional project "Strengthening the RDES" was also part of the FAO technical assistance.
34. The Commission acknowledged the new FAO initiatives in technical assistance extended to Iran through "The Agricultural Survey Improvement Programme" that would establish a methodology to produce twice a year basic national and provincial level data for the agricultural sector, including crop forecasts and post-harvest crop estimates, livestock composition, and information on economic and social aspects of the agricultural sector; to Malaysia through "Assistance to the Agricultural Census 2006" with the goal to improve the performance of its agricultural sector and to ensure food security for all through the development of a system of reliable, relevant and timely food and agricultural statistics; and to Timor-Leste through the "Development of an Agricultural Statistics System" that would provide reliable and timely statistics on food, agriculture and livestock required for effective planning and monitoring of the agriculture sector in order that policy and administrative decisions could be supported by objective and accurate information.
35. The Commission was grateful for the close cooperation maintained with United Nations and international organizations involved in food and agricultural statistics in the Asia and Pacific region and for FAO representation at various meetings on statistics including those organized by UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Asian Development Bank (ADB) PARIS21, and UN Statistical Institute in Asia and the Pacific (SIAP).
36. The Commission noted that its advocacy role had been incorporated in the preparation of the Programme for the World Census of Agriculture 2010. The Commission commended 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.
37. The Commission learned that one programme already operational as part of the WCA programme in India included the utilization of satellite imagery and photography to develop a multiple frame for agricultural surveys and would be expanded to include remote sensing in the future.
38. The Commission was advised that FAO used a ten-year period for publishing WCA guidelines for countries collecting agriculture census data, that the existing guidelines used the period 1996 to 2005 and that the period 2006 to 2015 would be the WCA 2010 reference period.
39. The Commission understood that each country collected its own agricultural census and had its own reference period for items like identification and location of holding, tenure of agricultural holdings and area of holding. The Commission was then informed that when FAO compared data between countries, it compared data, for example, from one country in 2008, another country in 2010 and another in 2014, for the purpose of planning and implementation of policies in different countries.
40. Among the comments made to the Commission was that aquaculture data could be collected either on a sample basis or on a total enumeration basis. The Commission was also advised that the guidelines should be evaluated on a country basis since a recommendation might be appropriate in some cases and might not be the best approach in others.
41. The Commission was informed that the decision to collect a population census versus agriculture census was dependent on the country's resources and that different countries even in one region used different approaches, for example, the population census could be done by the Central Statistics Office and the agriculture census could be done by the Ministry of Agriculture. However, the Commission noted that linking the two censuses for the purpose of having a multiple frame might not be as productive as anticipated.
42. The Commission agreed that horticulture statistics and/or the methodology for estimating horticulture crops would be incorporated in the recommendations for the future sessions, similar to the recommendations raised in the Nineteenth Session for the inclusion of the importance of organic farms in the WCA 2010 guidelines.
43. The Commission requested FAO to report in future sessions the status of recommendations made in the previous Session and any actions undertaken as an instrument for statisticians to keep current with the tools and improvements for their agricultural statistics and so that policy-makers/data users would appreciate the improvements and satisfy their expectations. The Commission agreed that the recommendations would be appropriate to discuss during the roundtable discussion, where feedback and suggestions could be made.