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Chapter 4: Technical Cooperation Programme

(All amounts in US$ 000)


Major Programme

2002-03 Programme of Work

RG Programme Change

RG 2004-05 Programme of Work

ZRG Programme Change

ZRG 2004-05 Programme of Work

Trust Fund


Technical Cooperation Programme








TCP Unit














Cost Increases






Total - recosted






657. The Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP) was established in 1976 following approval by the FAO’s Council at its Sixty-ninth Session (July 1976). This was further confirmed by the Nineteenth Session of the Conference in 1997 (Resolution 5/77). The Programme was intended to give a new impulse and dimension to the Organization’s key constitutional role “to furnish technical assistance as governments may request”. The TCP was conceived as a concrete instrument to enable FAO to respond rapidly to member countries’ urgent and unforeseen needs for technical assistance in the agriculture, fisheries and forestry sectors and more generally to address rural development and socio-economic issues.

658. The TCP contributes in the first instance to increasing production in agriculture, fisheries and forestry in a sustainable manner and to raising the income and nutritional standards of farmers and rural workers. It also helps beneficiary countries cope with many of the new challenges facing their agricultural economies. It gives due attention to specific groups such as the Least Developed Countries (LDC), the Low Income Food Deficit Countries (LIFDC) and small-scale producers and workers. It fills a significant gap in the external mechanisms available to countries to assist them with their food security and agricultural development challenges.

659. The main features of TCP are: its unprogrammed character; its flexibility in responding to new technical issues and urgent problems; clear focus; limited scale of intervention and short duration; low cost; practical orientation; and catalytic nature.

660. Requests for assistance under the TCP may be presented by governments of member countries that qualify for development assistance under the UN system, as well as by intergovernmental organizations3 of which such countries are members and are recognized as such by the UN system and FAO. They may also be submitted by national non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and national institutions or associations (including non-governmental institutions, national foundations, cooperatives, unions and other private organizations) if endorsed by the Government concerned and conforming with the TCP criteria.

661. The criteria, which govern the nature and the types of TCP assistance as laid down by the Governing Bodies, specify that requests:

  1. give emphasis to increasing production in food and agriculture, fisheries or forestry with a view to increasing incomes of small-scale producers and rural workers;
  2. be accorded high priority by the government, which must also ensure that the required local support facilities and services will be available and that follow-up action will be taken;
  3. be directed to an urgent and specific problem or need, limited to a particular sector or area, and involve practical action with well-defined objectives and expected results;
  4. complement, without duplicating, other development activities, fill a critical gap and, where possible, serve as a catalyst for a larger-scale activity;
  5. be limited in duration, preferably from one to three months; in no case should the overall duration of project activities exceed 24 months;
  6. be limited in cost, not exceeding the upper limit of US$ 400,000 per project and preferably much lower, and involve the most effective and least costly method of execution;
  7. provide assurance of the fullest possible participation of the governments in project execution through such means as the use of national institutions, personnel and resources.

662. TCP assistance mostly falls under one or more of the following categories: Training (T); Advisory services (A); Emergencies (E); Investment (I); Formulation and programming missions (F); and Assistance to Development (D).

663. TCP is managed and coordinated by a dedicated Service (TCOT) in the Field Operations Division (TCO), which reports to the Assistant Director-General of the Technical Cooperation Department (TC). TCOT coordinates the Organization's response to incoming requests for TCP assistance and oversees the process through which governments’ requests are reviewed and appraised for eligibility under the Programme. This appraisal aims at ensuring that:

  1. the assistance sought is in accordance with the mandate and the priorities of FAO as decided by its Governing Bodies;
  2. the request does not duplicate other activities, especially those supported by external sources of assistance, including on-going or previous TCP assistance;
  3. the request meets the established criteria;
  4. the proposed assistance is technically and operationally feasible;
  5. the Organization has adequate capacity to backstop project implementation.

664. FAO Representatives and technical officers in the Regional and Sub-regional Offices as well as the relevant technical and operations units at Headquarters participate in the review, appraisal and formulation process. FAO Representatives in particular maintain close contact with governments so that the requests submitted are prioritized and do not exceed the Programme’s financial possibilities. During implementation, TCOT reviews and monitors individual projects through its participation in Project Task Forces and the processing of requests for budget revisions, in close cooperation with Field and Headquarters offices. The monitoring of TCP projects and of the performance of the Programme as a whole, is supported by the Field Programme Monitoring and Coordination Service (TCOM) and relies on the use of the Field Programme Management Information System (FPMIS), the Organization’s prime management tool for Field Programme related data. Continuous monitoring is also carried out, on a project-by-project basis, through specific reminders to budget holders and through the analysis of their Quarterly Project Implementation Reports (QPIRs). The completion of each project’s activities is sanctioned by a Terminal Statement or Concluding Letter, in which FAO, through the Assistant Director-General, TC, informs the Government of the project's major achievements and recommendations. TCOT is also responsible for coordinating the implementation of Conference Resolution 2/93 (Edouard Saouma Award).

665. Depending on the flow of requests, TCP assistance is approved throughout the biennium during which the related appropriation has been approved by the FAO Conference. According to the budgetary requirements for individual projects, corresponding resources are set aside or "earmarked" against the appropriation for the biennium, until the funds available are exhausted. While individual projects can have a maximum life span of 24 months, they must be implemented and completed before the end of the subsequent biennium.

666. Commitments against the biennial appropriation can be made until the end of the second year of the biennium following that in which a project is approved; commitments made at such late stage must be settled within the subsequent year, as laid down in FAO Financial Regulations. Financial information on the implementation of TCP projects, by country, is regularly provided in the Organization's biennial accounts submitted to the Finance Committee, Council and Conference.

667. The TCP has been subject to regular evaluations conducted either under FAO auspices or by ad-hoc committees and audits commissioned by member countries. A process for systematically evaluating thematic clusters of TCP projects is now well established. Seven evaluations have so far been carried out by the Evaluation Service of PBE covering projects in the fields of: Food Quality Control (1997); Apiculture and Sericulture (1998); Legislation (1999); Policy Assistance (2000); Animal Health (2001); Emergency Relief Operations (2002); and Crop Production (2003). The TCP is also currently subject to an in-depth review by the External Auditor, whose report will be presented during the 2004-05 biennium.

668. An in-depth review of procedures and policies governing the formulation, appraisal and approval of TCP projects, commissioned by TCOT, was conducted in 2002. In response to the findings, a number of measures were introduced, aimed at increasing TCP project approval and delivery, and improving overall performance of the Programme.

669. The TCP has also evolved in response to changes within the Organization and in the international environment. The following may be highlighted:

  1. an increased use of TCP resources by East European countries (countries in transition), as these have joined FAO;
  2. an increased use within TCP projects (calculated in share of person/months), of expertise from the Partnership Programmes (from 11.0 percent in 1996/97 to 18.3 percent in 2002/2003) and National Consultants (from 52.3 percent in 1996/97 to 69.1 percent in 2002/03); there was a concomitant reduction in the use of internationally recruited expertise (from 36.7 percent in 1996/97 to 5.7 percent in 2002/03), contributing to capacity building and to lowering costs;
  3. an active support of TCP to the Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS) through direct contributions to the formulation and implementation of the initial phase of the Programme in a number of LIFDCs, and more recently to the formulation of up-scaled national programmes;
  4. the introduction of a Small-scale Facility to be used by the FAO Representatives to provide technical services to governments in the form of local or national consultancies and help them solving a specific technical problem; it is also used for formulating project ideas for extra-budgetary funding and carrying out small sub-sector studies;
  5. the reimbursement of the technical support services rendered by FAO’s Technical Divisions to TCP projects as a means to ensure their effective participation in TCP projects;
  6. in line with the overall decentralization of field activities, the transfer of responsibility for operating TCP projects to the FAO Representatives in their respective countries of accreditation;
  7. accommodation of requests for technical assistance which are increasingly complex and of a multi-disciplinary nature;
  8. the assessment of each TCP project, with the exception of emergency projects, by FAO’s Programme and Project Review Committee (PPRC) to ensure their compliance with the general orientations and policies of the Organization; and
  9. the creation of the Edouard Saouma Award for a national or regional institution which has implemented with particular efficiency and success a project funded by the TCP.

670. In general terms, the TCP has been found by evaluations and audits to be operating in conformity with objectives, criteria and procedures approved by Governing Bodies and achieving satisfactory results. Particular appreciation was expressed for the rigour applied in the selection of TCP projects, as per the established criteria. Favourable references were made to the contribution made by the TCP to address critical needs for agricultural and rural development as well as emergency situations in various parts of the world. The key role played by the TCP as catalytic agent for other forms of external aid was reiterated on several occasions. The contribution of TCP to linking Regular Programme and Field Programme activities to the benefit of recipient countries was emphasized. The continuation and strengthening of the TCP in view of the impact of its projects and its cost-effectiveness was repeatedly urged. The need to address the growing demand placed on TCP resources was recognized, also in the light of limitations for many countries in obtaining other extra-budgetary resources devoted to agricultural and rural development4.

671. Since 1976 until the end of 2002, 7 443 projects were approved under the TCP for a total amount of US$ 928 million, i.e. an average allocation of about US$ 125,000 per project.

672. The table and related graph below show the evolution of TCP allocations by region between the 1992-93 and 2000-01 biennia. Variations reflect the unprogrammed and demand-driven nature of the TCP.

Distribution of TCP Allocations by Region (Percentages)



Asia and Pacific


Latin America and Caribbean

Near East





































Distribution of TCP Allocations by Region (Percentages)

673. The distribution of TCP allocations among categories, as indicated in the following table and related graph, also varies from biennium to biennium depending on the nature of requests received. While the bulk of TCP resources continue to fall under the Advisory Services and Emergencies categories, an increase occurred between the 1996-97 and 2000-01 biennia in the share of resources allocated under the Formulation/Programming and Assistance to Development categories. This trend reflects an increased contribution of the TCP to: a) the formulation of development programmes and donor funded projects; b) agricultural sector programming missions; and c) the formulation and implementation of the SPFS, confirming the catalytic role played by the TCP.

Distribution of TCP Allocations by Category (Percentages)





Training (T)




Advisory Services (A)




Emergencies (E)




Investment (I)




Formulation/Programming (F)




Intercountry Cooperation (C)




Assistance to Development (D)




Grand Total




Distribution of TCP Allocation by Category

674. The Technical Cooperation Programme in effect not only benefits from, but makes an important contribution to other Regular Programme activities. It remains an important tool for making FAO’s expertise readily available to countries in the resolution of their most urgent and unforeseen problems, while ensuring at the same time synergy between FAO’s normative and operational activities. The graph and table below give an idea of the variety of TCP projects interventions, their relation with the Organization’s major sector of activity and of the TCP capacity to mobilize FAO’s specialized services.

Approval by Lead Technical Unit (January 2002 - December 2002)

Approvals by Major Sector of Activity, 1992-93 to 2000-01 (values in US$ million)

Sector of Activity










General Policy and Direction














Food and Agricultural Policy and Development





















Sustainable Development







Services to Member Nations







Grand Total







675. Furthermore, TCP’s areas of intervention are consistent with substantive priorities embodied in the Programme of Work and Budget (PWB) in response to expressed demands of the membership, among which: trade policy; food safety; phytosanitary and zoosanitary standards; biotechnology; Food Insecurity and Vulnerability Information and Mapping Systems (FIVIMS); policy implications of HIV/AIDS; and the SPFS.

676. In practical terms, the TCP has enabled the formulation of agricultural and rural development policies and strategies (13 projects approved in 2000-01 versus 19 in 2002-03). It has facilitated the elaboration of several regional cooperation agreements, the creation of inter-governmental organizations and the transfer of technical knowledge and improved low-cost technology in various agricultural and related fields. In addition, the TCP has become increasingly involved in empowering members to address new problems and priorities such as: World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Negotiations/Commodity and Trade Policy Issues (2 projects approved in 2000-01 versus 3 in 2002-03); the establishment of FIVIMS (3 projects approved in 2000-01); food security of the most vulnerable, including HIV/AIDS affected communities (1 project approved in 2002); International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) (10 projects approved in 2000-01 versus 9 in 2002-03); gender issues (3 projects approved in 2000-01); food quality and safety (13 projects approved in 2000-01 versus 16 in 2002); biotechnology and biodiversity (1 project approved in 2000-01 versus 3 in 2002-03); and organic agriculture (2 projects approved in 2002-03).


677. It is useful to recall that Conference Resolution 9/89, in its operative paragraph, invites the Director-General to make every effort in order to restore the resources available to TCP to the former level of 14 percent of the total Regular Programme budget and, if possible, to raise it to 17 percent.

678. In addition to this call to increase resources for TCP, a combination of structural factors continues to militate for such an increase. These are: (i) the increase in the number of Member Nations that are eligible for assistance from the programme, affecting the share of other regions; (ii) the increasing complexity of TCP projects, requiring increased technical expertise inputs (national consultants, TCDC experts and FAO advisory services); (iii) the increased demand for assistance in new fields as illustrated above, a trend which is expected to continue.

679. Moreover, the demands for emergency assistance remain high (27.4 percent of 2000-01 total TCP Allocation), leading to additional requests for technical support in programme formulation for rehabilitation following emergencies.

680. At the same time, limitations to extra-budgetary funding for technical assistance to and cooperation with developing countries, mainly due to the decline of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as well as other donors’ financing, imply that many Members, including LIFDCs, very often can only resort to TCP in order to have access to FAO's expertise in response to urgent and unforeseen needs. However, FAO receives some 800-900 requests for TCP assistance per biennium; and every year some 250-300 requests for an overall value of US$ 60 to 75 million remain unattended and need to be carried forward to the subsequent biennium.

681. All these factors underpin the wish of Members to see an increased share of TCP to the total Appropriation. It is also necessary to strengthen TCOT (Major Programme 4.2) in its essential coordination and supportive roles.

682. In effect, the tentative resource projections in the Medium-Term Plan (MTP) 2004-2009 included an increase in TCP resources under Chapter 4 of the PWB to take the share of this Chapter to 17 percent of the total FAO Regular Budget Appropriation by the end of the period, as called for by Conference Resolution 9/89. The net increase envisaged for the first biennium (2004-05) of the six-year plan period was 11.6 percent. The overall increase of US$ 5.9 million proposed in this PWB represents only 6.2 percent. While this is less than what has been proposed in the MTP, the new proposal still makes progress in terms of TCP as a percent of the Appropriation.

Impact of ZRG Resource Levels

Under ZRG, resources would revert to their level of 2002-03. Since strengthening of the TCP Service is an incontrovertible requirement, the provision available for projects under 4.1 would need to be slightly reduced in favour of Major Programme 4.2.

3 This term covers all intergovernmental organizations at the global, regional and sub-regional levels.
4 Extracts from reports of the FAO Conference, Council, Regional Conferences, Programme Committee and Finance Committee over the period 1976 to 2001.

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