| NERC/02/2 |
Twenty-Sixth FAO Regional Conference for the Near East
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, 9 - 13 March 2002
Action Taken on the Main Recommendations of the Twenty-Fifth Regional Conference for the Near East and other FAO Activities in the Near East Region 2000-2001
This report is presented in three sections:
A. ACTION TAKEN IN RESPONSE TO THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE 25TH SESSSON OF THE FAO NEAR EAST REGIONAL CONFERENCE
The following is a brief summary of the action taken on recommendations made by the 25th session of FAO Regional Conference for the Near East.
1. FAO to continue to provide policy advice, guidance and training to Member Countries to assist in their preparations for the next round of multilateral trade negotiations on agriculture, and in assessing the implications of joining the WTO on the agricultural sectors of Member Countries.
Two training workshops on the "Umbrella Programme for Training on the Uruguay Round (UR) Future and Multilateral Trade Negotiations on Agriculture" were held in Cairo (September 26th to 30th 1999; 51 participants) and Muscat (September 16th to 20th; 85 participants). Arabic resource manuals on Uruguay Round and Multilateral Trade Negotiations and on Implications of URAoA (Agreement on Agriculture) for Developing Countries were published and distributed to Member Countries.
2. FAO to increase support to the Palestinian agricultural sector given the suffering and difficult circumstances faced by Palestinian farmers as result of the occupation, and to take the necessary measures to include Palestine in all activities and programmes provided to Member States.
RNE implemented a UNDP/FAO project on "Capacity Building in Agricultural Policy Analysis and Planning in Palestine", which resulted in the following documents: a) Palestinian Agricultural Policy; b) Strategy for Sustainable Development of the Agricultural Sector; and c) Medium-Term Plan 2001-2005. Furthermore, FAO is currently assisting the Palestinian Authority in the improvement and development of agro-industry and fishery marketing. FAO/WFP is also planning to field a Food and Nutrition Assessment Mission in the Palestinian Territories in 2002. At the request of the Palestinian authority, a mission was fielded late 2001 to assess the priority needs and to formulate proposals for agricultural revitalization in the West Bank and the Gaza strip.
3. FAO to further strengthen its country offices in the Near East to better support the regional country field programmes of the Organization.
The Organization continued to provide support to its country offices in the Region and, in particular, a number of FAO Representations have been strengthened following the transfer of operational responsibilities for national projects to the FAO Representatives. The Organization also initiated the programme for the establishment of additional country offices based on the out posting of a senior technical officer who could also act as FAO Representative, as approved by the Council at its 119th Session in November 2000. In this context, the Organization has signed one host country agreement for the establishment of such a Representation in the Near East Region and is in the final stages of negotiation with three other countries. The same arrangement is also being considered for a fifth country.
Follow-up the World Food Summit
4. FAO to enhance the exchange of expertise and information to SPFS among member countries.
Assisted in the preparation and implementation of TCP on Water Control Component (WCC) of the SFPS in Egypt, Djibouti, Mauritania, Morocco, Sudan, Syria, Turkmenistan and Yemen. Assistance for preparation of Phase Two of the SPFS in Egypt and Syria have continued.
5. FAO to continue assisting Member States in approaching donors and international organizations for supporting their national efforts towards implementation of the World Food Summit Plan of Action.
- A number of donors have been approached in this regard. Joint programmes of work were carried out with multilateral donor's technical assistance projects such as UNDP, World Bank, Islamic Development Bank, ICARDA ...etc., on agricultural issues of mutual interest. Field Programme Development has been under restructuring following an FAO task force which was established for improving field programme development and delivery to member nations. Missions for field programme development to Qatar, Bahrain, Algeria, Morocco, UAE were undertaken.
- NGO/CSO Regional Consultation on WFS: fyl for the Near East was held in October 2000, Cairo, Egypt, attended by 36 representatives of NGO/CSO from 12 countries in the Region.
6. FAO to continue to respond positively to government requests to take part in the SPFS and to enhance technical collaboration between countries of the Region through the South-South cooperation (SSC) initiative.
Egypt signed agreements on SSC with Cameroon, Djibouti, Malawi and Tanzania for the implementation of SPFS. China also signed an agreement with Mauritania for implementation of a similar project. The preparations for SPFS are underway in Algeria.
7. FAO to continue its support to the setting up of FIVIMS at the national and international levels, in collaboration with concerned UN organizations, competent national institutions and non-governmental organizations.
RNE has continued to provide support to Member Countries in setting up FIVIMS at the national level. The support includes TCP project for Yemen, FIVIMS training workshops in UAE and Turkey, and preparation of TCP projects for Syria and Turkey.
8. FAO to continue lending support to raising funds through the various activities of the TeleFood programme
FAO continued to give support to fund raising through TeleFood programmes.
9. FAO to continue its support to Member Countries in their efforts to review and formulate long-term sustainable agricultural and rural development strategies, policies and national plans of action.
The following activities were carried out:
- Fielding a multi-disciplinary mission to Qatar to identify priority areas for technical co-operation and to assist in the formulation of long-term agriculture development strategy together with guidelines for an action plan.
- Organizing a multi-disciplinary mission to Iraq, within the framework of the UN Oil-for-Food programme.
Providing technical assistance in implementing the Institutional Strengthening Agricultural Policy Project in Syria, funded by Italy. This project provided assistance to Syria in formulating a long-term strategy for sustainable agricultural development, action plans and in establishing a national center for agricultural policies.
- Formulating "Agricultural Development Strategy for Egypt 2017" in collaboration with World Bank and preparing in collaboration with UNDP United Nations documents on Common Country Assessment (CCA) and Assistance Development Framework (UNDAF) relating to agricultural, water and environment in Egypt.
- Formulating Agricultural Sector Strategies for Palestine and Yemen.
- Implementing a TCP project in preparation of the sustainable agricultural development strategic framework for Iran.
- Fielding a multidisciplinary mission to Bahrain for formulating long-term agricultural development strategy and Programmes.
- Supporting Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan in assessing the "Competitiveness of the Agriculture Sector" in preparation for the formulation of the next Development Programme for these countries for the period 2003-2010.
- Providing technical assistance to Algeria in policy analysis and planning in support of the National Plan for Agricultural Development that was launched in 2000.
10. FAO to assist, within its available resources, Member countries in conducting studies for establishing regional/sub-regional market information systems to stimulate intra-regional trade, as well as the feasibility of alternative mechanisms for joint procurement, marketing and collective bargaining with foreign trade blocks, in conformity with WTO rules.
The following related activities were carried out:
- Two workshops, as stated above, were organized on Umbrella Programme for Training on Uruguay Round Follow-up.
- A workshop on "Improving Cereal Marketing Linkages for Enhancing Food Security and Promotion of Cereal Export in the Sudan was organized (February 3-4, 2001; 115 participants).
- Publications on Marketing Information (Arabic) and export promotion were completed and distributed to member countries.
- Technical advisory services were provided to Jordan on the required agricultural marketing institutional arrangement in conformity with WTO rules.
11. FAO to continue its support to applied agricultural research and extension to assist member countries in priority areas, such as the development of varieties tolerant to drought, salt and heat stress, date palm production and post harvest-technology, combating desertification; utilization of non-traditional water resources; and rationalizing of water use.
- Assistance continued to be provided to Member Countries in relevant priority areas, such as the development of varieties tolerant to drought, salt and heat stress; improving date palm production and post-harvest technology; combating desertification; utilization of non-traditional water resources; and rationalization of water use. Also, FAO continues to accord high interest to the major problem of water resources conservation, protection and sustainable use.
- A thrust continues to be focused on the use of sewage water resources through a forestation. In Egypt, a TCP project (TCP/EGY/7821 (A), "Preparation of a National Tree Planting and Development of Peri-Urban Forestry," plan was completed and a follow-up proposal on Environment Protection through the Safe Use of Treated Sewage Water in forestation activities was drafted. In Yemen, as a follow-up and consolidation of the on-going projects on development of the integrated watershed management, FAO has supported a new proposal on integrated watershed management and sustainable mountain development with Dutch development co-operation in particular.
- A number of activities were also carried out including an Expert Consultation on Drought Mitigation, an Expert Meeting on Wastewater Reuse, Workshops on the Use of Treated Sewage Water in Forest Plantations, and User Manual (English, Arabic and Russian) on Waste Water Utilization, practical Guidelines for the Assessment and Measurement of Criteria and Indicators for Sustainable Forest Management in the Region and for the Date Palm TCP project in Yemen.
- FAO organized a Regional Consultation on Investment in Land and Water in the Near East Region, in Amman, Jordan (16-17 October 2001). The activity was an initiative led by the AGL Division in preparation for the follow-up of WFS:5yl, and in response to the recorded decline of investment flows for Agriculture during the past decade. The Consultation was attended by 10 countries; Iran, Jordan, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey and Yemen. The main conclusions and recommendations reached by representatives of the 10 countries were as follows:
- to broaden the spread of FAO message regarding this significant target of "Enhancing the Investment in Agriculture Sector", and particularly that in the Land and Water sub-sector;
- to realize that, for promoting this cause, FAO ought to be given the mandate as the proper organization capable of addressing the next International Conference on Financing Development (FFD), planned in Mexico in 2002; and
- to relay to their respective Governments these important messages and that such findings would be considered for inclusion in the address of the countries to the WFS follow-up meetings.
- Proposals have been made for attention of the Nile Basin Initiative and the GEF with particular focus on land conservation, sand dune stabilization and watershed management in the Nile Basin.
12. FAO to provide, within its available resources, Member Countries with technical assistance and training in biotechnology and genetic engineering and to enhance the exchange of information and experiences in these fields among countries of the Region.
FAO co-sponsored, with Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research, the First International Conference on Biotechnology application for Arid Regions, held in Kuwait, April 2001. FAO is exploring the possibilities of establishing a Biotechnology Centre in the Region in response to the demand by some Member Countries.
13. FAO to assist in organizing an expert meeting, in collaboration with relevant UN Agencies and other regional and international institutions, on agro-industries and food safety, in the context of changing consumption patterns in the Region and requirements of export markets.
Preparatory work for achieving the task has been completed and implementation is under way. A sub-regional workshop (9 participants from 6 member countries) on improving agro-industries was held in Mauritania on October 24-25, 2001.
14. FAO to continue its support to enhance the capacity building of policy analysts and planners at country and regional level, particularly through continued support to establish the Near East and North African Regional Network Policies (NENARNAP)
- Implemented a TCP Project (in progress) in Jordan, aiming at Capacity building in the area of policy analysis and planning.
- Formulated a second phase of the project funded by Italy concerning the enhancement of capacity building of policy analysis and the operation of the National Agricultural Policy Centre in Syria.
- Continued supporting the establishment and operation of NENARNAP including preparation of its draft by-laws and revision of draft regional document and also organized the first meeting of Ad Hoc Committee of the NENARNAP, Cairo, May, 200
- Held a Regional Training Workshop on "Water Policy Analysis and Management for CIS Countries" in September 2001 in collaboration with SESRTCIC and the International Water Management Institute (IWMI). 22 participants attended the workshop from Central Asia.
- Organized a sub-regional workshop on "Strengthening Sustainability Issues and Environmental Considerations in the Planning and Analysis of Agricultural Investment Projects" in Kuwait in collaboration with SESRTCIC, IDB and API.
- Held a regional training workshop on the impact of macro and sectoral policies on rural poverty, in collaboration with SESRTCIC in Ankara Turkey, March 2001.
15. FAO to continue assisting Member Countries in evaluating various options to enhance intra-regional trade in view of promoting regional and national food security.
Working document has been prepared on the subject matter, and is included for discussion in the present 26th NERC.
16. FAO to share with countries of the Region the experience accumulated from some of the successful national and regional Trust Fund Projects to benefit from the lessons learned when formulating possible future Trust Fund programmes in the Region.
This activity has been implemented and proved beneficial to receiving countries. A new UTF arrangement has been approved for Bahrain and a similar arrangement is under preparation for Algeria.
17. FAO to respond positively, within its available resources, to request from Member Countries concerning national and regional projects with a view to foster cooperation and address issues of regional dimension.
- FAO/RNE continued support through the regional network/associations such as NENARACA, AFMANENA, CARDNE, AARINENA, NENARNAP, for the promotion of regional technical and economic cooperation among countries of the Region.
- FAO/RNE, ICARDA and CIHEAM launched the Regional Network on Drought Mitigation, with EU endorsement and support. National action plans are encouraged and a Regional TCP to initiate the Network is under preparation.
- FAO/RNE responded positively to formulation of technical assistance projects in member countries such as Bahrain, Iran, Libya, Morocco, Qatar, Syria and Yemen to promote regional co-ordination and integration.
- FAO formulated a Phase II of the FAO interregional Trust Fund Project GCP/INT/752/ITA "Capacity Building for Nile Basin Water Resources Management". With financial support of Italy, the project is currently being implemented with participation of all 10 Nile basin countries, including Egypt and Sudan. Recognizing the role it plays in addressing transboundary water resources management issues in the Nile Basin, the project has officially been endorsed by the Nile Council of Ministers as part of the Nile Basin Initiative.
18. FAO to follow up on the necessary steps suggested in Document NERC/00/5 to ensure timely implementation of the activities for proposed Animal Health Commission.
The preamble of the Commission has been prepared and shared with the experts of the member countries. FAO took part in the 25th Arab Veterinary Medical Congress which further emphasized the need for such a body in the Region.
19. FAO to provide the Secretariat for the newly established Animal Health Commission at the Regional Office for the Near East.
The Regional Animal Health Officer is acting as an interim secretary for the Commission.
20. The Meeting listened to a presentation on "Intra-Regional Agricultural Trade in the Near East" (NERC/00/6) and commended FAO for the valuable information included in the document and for the timely presentation of this important topic during a special session in parallel to the Regional Conference. Requested FAO to include this highly significant topic on the agenda of future Near East Regional fora.
As part of the agenda of NERC 26th, a paper on "Trade Liberalization Policies, Intra-regional Trade and Sustainable Agriculture Development" has been prepared.
21. The Conference took note of the Document NERC/00/INF/6, "Review of the Progress in the WTO Multinational Trade Negotiations on Agriculture", and commended FAO for assisting Member Countries that are not yet members in assessing the implications of joining the WTO on their agricultural sectors, as well as for providing policy advice, guidance and training to countries that are already members of the WTO to assist in their preparations for the next round of multilateral trade negotiations on agriculture.
RNE/FAO, in cooperation with GCC Secretariat, organized a "Sub-regional Training Workshop on Uruguay Round and Future Multinational Trade Negotiation on Agriculture" in Muscat-Oman. The topic has also been discussed in the document on "Trade Liberalisation Policies, Intra-regional Trade and Sustainable Agriculture Development."
B. REPORT ON ONGOING PROGRAMME OF WORK
In addition to the activities mentioned above (section A), the programme of work during the biennium 2000-2001 included the following:
22. Agricultural Policy Analysis
Policy advice and technical assistance were provided to a number of member countries to enhance the responsiveness of the agricultural sector to international, regional, national, policy environment signals and to help remove the technical and policy constraints particularly relating to SARD, poverty and food security (for details, see section A above).
23. Development of Crops and Livestock in the Region
23.1 Land Degradation Assessment in Dry-land (LADA)
- FAO initiated the preparation of an International Initiative on "Land Degradation Assessment in Drylands (LADA)" which included over 100 countries. The programme would be funded by FAO, GEF, Global Mechanism of UN Convention for Combating Desertification and Droughts (CCD) and other donors. Objectives include information collection (data/maps); date harmonization; and capacity building at all levels of LADA programme.
- In Libya, a project on Mapping of Natural Resources for Agriculture Use and Planning was implemented. In Lebanon, an FAO/TCP project relating to Strengthening the advisory and Monitoring Capacity of the Ministry of Agriculture on Land Resources was implemented.
23.2 Seed and Plant Genetic Resource Development
RNE/FAO assisted Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia to establish tissue culture for date palm and screening techniques for Bayoud disease in order to produce date palm trees with improved fruit yield and resistance to Bayoud disease. Assistance was also provided to Yemen for the establishment of a laboratory for seed technology.
23.3Grassland and Pasture Development
- National Plans of Actions on Range development for Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, and Turkey are in preparation.
- Assistance to Jordan was provided through TCP/JOR/0067 "Strengthening the Range Department to Implement the National Programme for Rangeland Rehabilitation and Development".
- Assistance to Syria has continued through project GCP/SYR/009/ITA. Range rehabilitation and establishment of a wildlife reserve in the Syrian Steppe (consolidation phase II).
- In Yemen, a TCP project is under implementation concerning management use and control of prosopis.
23.4Plant Protection Activities
- Support was provided to the Maghreb region, and the Sudan to strengthen regional and/or national capabilities for compliance with the International Plant Protection Convention and the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreement and to enhance food security. Similar Support is under preparation for Iran, Yemen and Oman. Assistance has been provided to modernize and harmonize the phytosanitary legislation for the Arab Gulf Council Countries. A regional technical consultation on draft international standards was organized in early November 2001.
- The application of integrated pest management was promoted in Tunisia, Egypt and Jordan through the use of the Sterile Insect Technique to effect area-wide suppression of the Mediterranean fruit fly and facilitate long-term sustainable agricultural and rural development. Support was also provided to the Ministry of Agriculture of the Palestinian Authority to set-up communication tools, enhance GIS capacity and recruit field personnel. In addition, advisory services and technical assistance were provided to a number of countries on integrated pest management, locust control, mango blight in (Oman), and control of peach fruit fly in (Egypt).
23.5 Animal Production and Health
The implemented field programme activities included RADISCON (Regional Animal Disease Surveillance and Control Network for North Africa, the Middle East and the Arabian Peninsula), covering 29 countries; control of transboundary diseases in Afghanistan; livestock disease surveillance and emergency preparedness in Syria; surveillance and strategy formulation for rinderpest and other major diseases in Yemen, which was used in recent Rift Valley fever (RVF) outbreak; rinderpest surveillance and control in Sudan; control of FMD in Algeria, Turkey and Iran; assistance against spread of RVF in Saudi Arabia and Iraq; alert systems against RVF and TADs in Mauritania; training in Animal Disease Surveillance in the Region; sustainable parasite control in Iran, as well as sustainable control of tsetse and trypanosomosis in Sudan; and emergency animal health assistance to pastoral communities affected by drought in Jordan; support to Veterinary Services in Libya. Activities also included participation in international meetings (Bahrain) and Regional meetings (Khartoum) concerning Old World screw worm eradication.
24. Human Resources Development
24.1 Rural Development Services
Field activities of FAO/SDA in the Region included methodological support in developing participatory and integrated approaches in project design and implementation through improved tools and methods, training courses and workshops and exchange of experiences and lessons learned. In this regard, field projects were implemented in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia.
24.2 Research, Extension and Training
FAO/SDR initiated the following activities/projects at the regional level:
- Initiating studies including the institutional need assessment of agricultural research and technology, extension and higher education for the Near East Countries Strategic Extension Campaigns (Jordan) and Participatory Training Methodology (Syria), and integrating new themes into agricultural extension programmes, such as Environmental and Population Education (Egypt).
- Collaborating with the Mediterranean Basin in undertaken joint research relating to (Buffalo, Sheep and Goat; Rice, Cotton, Pasture and Fodder Crops; Nuts and Olives).
- Implementing a number of related activities and projects including a pilot project on virtual extension and research communication work in Egypt, Agricultural knowledge and information system for Rural Development in Morocco, environmental protection in Algeria, development of environmental management plan in Iran, development of agricultural meteorological sub-sector in Iraq and identification of fresh water including water, including water flow to the sea in Lebanon.
24.3 Women in development
FAO/SDW continued to support the following activities in the Member Countries:
25. Supporting Services
25.1 Agricultural Marketing, and Rural Finance
- FAO supported Agricultural Marketing and Rural Finance Regional Networks continued to receive technical assistance. Marketing activities included Seminar on Urban Food Security, Amman, Jordan; national workshop on Improving Cereal Marketing Linkages for Enhancing Food Security and Promotion of Sorghum Export in the Sudan; Regional Seminar on Agricultural Marketing Business Management, Cairo, Egypt; Technical Support for the Establishment and Operation of Fruits and Vegetables Assembly Wholesale Market in Yemen and for conducting problem oriented studies in agricultural marketing in Syria. A number of technical agricultural marketing publications in Arabic were produced.
- Activities on Rural Finance included a Seminar on "Towards Universal Rural Banks," organized by NENARACA in cooperation with RNE, technical support for introduction of Micro-Banker in some countries of the Region, and technical publications including 4 training modules in agricultural credit administration produced in co-operation with NENARACA.
25.2 Industrial Crops, Agro-Industrial and Food Processing
Regional Post harvests Workshop was held at Alexandria University, from 11-13 November 2001. Also, Date Palm and Olive Networks were expanded, and forged cooperation with ESCORENA for better exchange of information, harmonization of standards, and procedures.
The activities included a workshop on Nutrition in Primary School Curricula in the Arab Countries, Bahrain; the First Session of the Codex Regional Coordinating Committee, Roundtable Meeting on Agricultural Censuses of Near East Countries-2000," Lebanon; Regional Workshop on "Improving Household Food Security and Nutrition," November 2001; the First Arab Nutrition Conference, Bahrain, September 2001; and a workshop on "Emerging Food Safety Issues and Consumer Protection," Jordan, 28-30 October 2001.
26. Forestry Development and Management
26.1 Forest Resources Assessment and Development
- The Near East Countries collaborated actively in the Forest Resources Assessment Programme (FRA) and the Global Forest Resources Assessment 2000 (FRA 2000).
- The 15th session of the Near East Forestry Commission was held in Khartoum, The Sudan during the period 28-31 January 2002.
- A workshop on the "Role of Private Sector, Civil Society and NGO's in the Formulation and Implementation of National Forest Programmes and National Forest Policies in the Near East" was organized in The Sudan in January 2002.
26.2 Sustainable Management of Natural Forests
Technical guidelines on measurement and assessment of criteria and indicators were published to facilitate field level implementation.
26.3 Forest Genetic Resources
Global Information System on Forest Genetic Resources" (REFORGEN) was placed on the Internet. The 11th and 12th Sessions of the Panel of Experts on Forest Gene Resources (September 1999, November 2001) recommended action based on country-derived needs and priorities.
26.4 Forest Plantation and Protection
- Activities concentrated on assistance to countries in the assembly of information on plantation areas and yields, and the aggregation of information at global level. This includes preparation and provision of inputs to the Global Forest Resources Assessment 2000. A document entitled "Role of Planted Trees and Forest Plantations in Low Forest Cover Countries" was prepared for Iran.
- The International Poplar Commission (IPC), in which several countries of the Region are members and active participants, held its 21st Session in September 2000.
- FAO, in collaboration with ITTO, organized an Expert Meeting on Forest Fire Management in Rome in March 2001.
26.5 Wildlife and Protected Areas Management
In Syria, the Consolidation Phase of the Italian funded Range Improvement and Wildlife Conservation Project [1996-1999] is being implemented. Activities continue in Extension, Range Improvement and Wildlife Conservation. In Morocco, implementation of a Czech funded Project to Establish a Pilot Hunting System was completed during 2001. Achievements of the project included collecting and reviewing existing data relevant to hunting in order to facilitate the design of a Geographic Information System [GIS] for Hunting.
27. Fisheries Development Programme
A Mission was carried out in Lebanon in February 2001 to promote the Fisheries sector. The Mission proposed to revise old (1994) project profile and suggested to develop budgetary estimates (donor assistance) for the development of aquaculture projects in Lebanon. General Assembly meeting of INFOSAMAK was held in Rabat after the transfer of the project from Bahrain to Morocco. RNE participated in the deliberations of the first meeting. A Mission was sent to Oman to advise in establishing a Training Centre for Fishermen, and to provide assistance on Aquaculture Development and Research Vessel operation. A project profile for the development of Fisheries Sector in Qatar was prepared and included in the overall mission report. Fisheries Expert Consultation Meeting and the 2nd Arab Conference on Fish Trade and Investment were held in Algeria.
28. Emergency Assistance
A number of recommendations made at the 22nd Session of the FAO Commission for Controlling the Desert Locust in the Central Region (CRC) were implemented and various other activities of CRC were carried out in the Region. The development of a joint Work Plan with the EMPRES (Desert Locust) Central Region Programme resulted in several joint activities which were implemented in 2000 and 2001.
29. FAO Special Relief Operations
- Through its special Relief Operations Service, FAO/TCOR continues to implement, on behalf of the Government of Iraq, agricultural assistance projects in the three northern Governorates of Iraq under SCR 986 "Oil-for-Food" Programme, currently in its tenth phase. The assistance targets a multitude of sub-sectors including plant production and protection, water resources and irrigation, animal health and production, forestry, mechanization, agro-industry, extension, training, research and capacity-building.
- In the 2000-01 period several countries of the Near East were affected by a combination of conflict and/or severe drought. These included Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Syria and Jordan, while Iran was also affected by floods. With the support of donors and through FAO own resources, the Organization provided these countries, which had asked for FAO assistance, with a range of support activities including emergency provision of essential agricultural inputs such as seeds, tools and fertilizers in order to allow the affected farmers to "catch the next crop."
- FAO has established Agricultural Emergency Coordination Units in several countries of the Region affected by protracted emergencies, such as Afghanistan, Sudan and Tajikistan.
C. FUTURE PROGRAMME ORIENTATION TO FACE PRIORITY ISSUES
IN THE REGION
30. Policy Assistance for Economic and Agricultural Development
- Supporting national development strategies for appropriate agricultural planning, programmes and projects that reflect the priority areas identified in the WFS strategic framework, regional conference/commissions and the SPFS. Technical assistance will be provided to support projects identification and programmes formulation in close co-operation with multilateral and bilateral donors at country and regional levels.
- Providing policy advice to support enhancing the responsiveness of the agricultural sector to national/regional/global policy environment signals that will remove the technical and policy constraints in the countries of the Region and favour an economically sustainable development and investment environment that will promote SARD and food security.
31. Agricultural Production and Support Systems
- Maintaining future programmes that will continue to place great emphasis on rational management and conservation of land and water resources including optimization of on-farm water management, the use of non-conventional water resources, improved irrigation technology and salinity control, drought mitigation and management, integrated soil and fertilizer management, conservation and rehabilitation of problem soils including salinity, and promotion of appropriate land use planning polices. Long term programmes for drought mitigation at national and regional levels would be encouraged.
- Launching a regional network on treated waste water reuse for irrigation to assist Member Countries in adopting safe and efficient practices for reusing this low quality water in agriculture in the Region. The assessment of irrigation advisory services and extension on water use in agriculture, launched in 2001, analysis and review of policies on water resources development and management will continue jointly with AGLW and RNEP.
- Enhancing national/regional capacities to increase crop yields and production through genetic improvements and selected seed production and technology; promotion of regional networks for research and development on major field and horticultural crops in the Region; introduction and improvement of high yielding varieties; promotion of small-scale agro-industries in rural areas; and the development of cost-effective, environment-friendly and energy-saving technologies. Major emphasis will also be placed on development of crop varieties tolerant to drought, salt and heat stress.
· Participating actively in the identification, preparation and implementation of the various components of the SPFS in the Near East Member Countries that are classified as LIFDCs, and have expressed their interest in launching the SPFS with FAO support and the assistance of donors.
- Assisting national plant protection services in controlling major pest problems in the Region through IPM approach and regional coordination to promote inter-country cooperation and FAO guidelines, standards and conventions; to strengthen the implementation of the International Code of Conduct for the distribution and use of pesticides; and to continue servicing the Near East Desert Locust Control Commission. RNE will become increasingly involved in the implementation of the EMPRES programme, to support its activities at the regional and sub-regional level, particularly in the area of Desert Locust Control. More emphasis will also be placed on trade facilitation through harmonization of plant quarantine.
- Adopting sound sustainable agricultural and rural development programmes, through rational use of land and water resources, and promotion of indigenous crops and animal species well adapted to the regional ecology and environment, through the provision of technical support to projects that focus on technology transfer and applied agricultural research.
- Developing appropriate management techniques for rangeland and pasture to improve rehabilitation and sustainability of drylands vegetative cover and fodder resources.
- Placing emphasis on Livestock sub-programme on promoting effective veterinary public health management and food safety, and facilitating the establishment and operation of the Animal Health Commission for the Near East. In addition, developing the networking system for buffaloes, small ruminants and animal housing and a Website (AHCNENA) for NE and North Africa Animal Health Commission are important components of the programme.
- Gearing future priorities in nutrition towards assisting countries of the Region in the implementation of their national plans of action on nutrition. The programme would include the promotion and support of community-based food security, strengthening of comprehensive measures to assure the quality and safety of the food supply for protection of consumers and provision of nutrition education for the public institutions.
- Developing effective support services of sustainable and effective agro-industries, agricultural marketing, finance, insurance, private oriented agribusiness units, rural infrastructure and reduction of post-harvest losses and wastes, and providing safe and economical storage facilities would all receive added attention for realization of the objectives of increased food production, food security and poverty eradication.
32. Promotion of People Participation and Human Resources Development
- Focus will be placed on the rural human resources development, participation of people and the promotion of the role of women in agricultural production in the countries of the Region by mainstreaming the gender-anchored perspectives into all the envisaged agricultural and rural development programmes.
- Stress should be made on upgrading the agricultural extension and training institutions by developing adapted structures and better extension approaches and methodologies in order to incorporate environment considerations and sustainable development curricula in the agricultural extension field applications. Appropriate agricultural research/extension linkages will be supported and encouraged at the country and regional levels.
33. Food Security
Food security remains a high priority concern in the Region, requiring inter alia support to the establishment of FIVIMS at national levels. Other key elements for the food policy are the dissemination of emergency and disaster preparedness methodologies; the implementation of national plans of action for nutrition; capacity building in nutrition education in schools; and methodologies and guidelines for household food security and nutrition strategies. Advisory services will be provided to countries concerning access to the global WAICENT programme, AGRIS/CARIS and the strengthening of national information systems and networks.
- Continue technical support to member countries on formulation and implementation of national forest programmes and national forest policies, curriculum development of forestry institution of higher education and implementation of the intergovernmental forum on forest (UNIFF) recommendations for action.
- Continue technical support to Secretariat of the Tehran Forests on the needs and requirements of the countries with low forest cover or unique types of forests.
35. Fisheries Development
- Continuing technical assistance to be provided for the development of the fishery sector at national and regional levels.
- Participating in the LMR-WG 3rd Meeting and Workshop on Requirements for LMR Sustainable Management in PERSGA Region. First session of RECOFI was held in Muscat, Oman during the period 6-8 October 2001.
- Arranging a training course in Identification of Harmful Algae Causing the Red Tide for the RECOFI Member Countries, and holding another training course for the RECOFI Member Countries on Fish Ageing. Organizing Technical Consultations in Fish Trade in cooperation between FIIU and RNE early next year.
36. Strengthening TCDC/ECDC and Cooperation with IGO/NGOs
Many countries of the Region have developed successful experiences in the various fields of agriculture. Member Countries could greatly benefit from the experience of each other either through in-service training or by the provision of technical assistance. This process will continue to be developed further. FAO-TCDC Partnership Programmes, Inter-Governmental Organizations, established either under the direct auspices of FAO/RNE or supported by it, such as AFMANENA, NENARACA, CARDNE, NEPPO, INFOSAMAK, AARINENA, will continue to receive technical assistance, advisory services and necessary backstopping, in order to enhance their role and strengthen their intervention in their specific fields of specialisation. Specialised networks, specific to crops or to development themes, will continue to be supported and strengthened.
37. Field Programme Development
Field programme development and direct technical backstopping of filed projects will constitute a significant part of the workplans of RNE officers in the next biennium.