The FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, which provides the Secretariat for the Asia and Pacific Plant Protection Commission (APPPC), has long recognized that providing access to information is an important instrument in the development of agriculture. For example, it publishes the Selected indicators of food and agricultural development for the Asia-Pacific which allows people to make comparisons between countries, study driving factors of development, and identify trends that can be early warnings of potential dangers or signs of positive impacts of successful developments. In addition, FAO maintains about 35 databases; some of these also publish their own specific country profiles such as for livestock, fisheries, forestry, land and water use, pastures, food security, biotechnology, food safety, and animal and plant health. Surprisingly, there is no database or country profiles for plant protection. Therefore, the development of country profiles for plant protection is unique in this region and perhaps in the world, and may help formulate better strategies and policies for pest and pesticide management, and assist in regional harmonization and cooperation.
In a globalized world economy it is important to have international standards and to monitor their compliance and implementation. Many international conventions require their members to report regularly on the status of implementation. For example, the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC), of which many countries in Asia and the Pacific are members, requires its member countries to exchange phytosanitary information relevant to international trade. In addition, under the revised text of the IPPC, governments are encouraged to report on regular pest surveillance and monitoring, the establishment and maintenance of pest-free areas, and the results of pest risk analyses that they have conducted. The IPPC Secretariat assists in the exchange of official pest data. Similarly, the International Code of Conduct on the Distribution and Use of Pesticides was amended to include a provision to monitor and report on the implementation of the Code.
The Asia and Pacific Plant Protection Commission has recognized the importance of efficient and transparent exchange of critical information as an important means to improve regional cooperation and development. It is also aware that the need for accurate and structured information will increase in the coming years. Without waiting until countries are officially required to comply, the development of country plant protection profiles is indeed timely and very relevant for our future work. Indeed, this initiative represents a step ahead of developments.
Hopefully, the Country Plant Protection Profiles can already become part of the country reports in the next APPPC meeting scheduled for August 2007 in China. By compiling the information ahead of the meeting, it will be easier to prepare the country presentations and they will contribute to a more informative and useful exchange of information.
Assistant Director-General and
FAO Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific
Bangkok, March 2007