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I am pleased to announce the first issue of The State of Food and Agriculture in Asia and the Pacific. This publication is being launched to meet the need for a forward-looking regional analysis of the many issues facing food and agriculture in this very dynamic part of the world. I hope that it will catalyze informed discussion of appropriate policies to improve the competitiveness of agricultural producers and increase the affordability of food for the hundreds of millions of poor in the region. Its focus on the regional dimensions of food and agriculture makes it a complement to The State of Food and Agriculture published at FAO headquarters in Rome, which focuses on specific issues (e.g. biotechnology, international trade) at a more global level.

The first part of the publication is an analysis of medium to long-term trends in poverty and the role of agriculture, production and natural resources, consumption, and marketing and trade. Underlying all parts of this analysis is a concern for the food security of both producers and consumers. The second part of the publication focuses in more detail on two specific issues confronting Asian agriculture: reducing vulnerability to natural hazards and the effects of trade liberalization on food security. These topics are two of the six priority themes contained in the Regional Strategic Framework of FAO's Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, the document that guides FAO's work throughout the region.

The State of Food and Agriculture in Asia and the Pacific is the result of a collaborative, multi-disciplinary effort by staff of the FAO regional office in Bangkok led by David Dawe, Senior Food Systems Economist. The feature "Trade liberalization, poverty and food security" was prepared jointly with Randy Stringer, Chief of the Comparative Agricultural Development Service (ESAC) in the Agricultural and Development Economics Division (ESA). The box "Can contracts help small farmers participate in more globalized food chains?" was contributed by Ellen McCullough of the Agricultural Sector in Economic Development Service (ESAE), also part of ESA. Extremely helpful comments from a large number of staff at FAO headquarters and several experts outside FAO are very gratefully acknowledged.

He Changchui
Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative
FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

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