Beijing, China, 17 - 21 May 2004


Table of contents


1. A key mandate of the Food and Agriculture Organization is to assist FAO member nations in the design and execution of appropriate and effective food security policies and strategies. In 1997, following the World Food Summit, the Organization extended support to its developing member countries, and countries with economies in transition, in the preparation of Strategy Papers on National Food Security and Agricultural Development – Horizon 2010. Some 120 member states formally endorsed these strategy papers and many more benefited by integrating elements of the strategy papers into their own development approaches, of which 12 are from Asia and the Pacific Region.

2. In the period leading up to the World Food Summit: five years later (WFS: fyl), over 100 governments initiated updates of the draft Strategy Papers with support from FAO to organize national multi-stakeholder one-day workshops aimed at discussing and reviewing the national strategies. While many countries have officially endorsed their updated Strategy Papers, there is a growing call for their review to ensure clear and beneficial impact on national food security and the prioritization of agriculture in the allocation of development resources. In Asia and the Pacific Region, multi-stakeholder one-day workshops were held in 20 countries.


3. In March 2003, FAO launched the Initiative to Review and Update National Agricultural, Rural Development and Food Security Strategies and Policies (Initiative). This initiative supports member countries in reassessing and revising their agricultural and rural sector strategies and polices within the framework of the WFS: fyl Declaration and the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs). More specifically, the initiative aims to support countries in addressing food insecurity issues within a medium/long run framework that ensures consistency among objectives, policies, resources and results. This mechanism also enables the incorporation of food security objectives into country/regional processes documented by the Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers and Regional Integration Agreements, ultimately facilitating resource allocation towards hunger reduction, with particular focus on the needs and expectations of poor farmers and other disadvantaged groups.

4. FAO has been providing assistance to its Member Countries in this process, with the specific objective to:

5. The basic premises underlying the proposed review are that hunger is a cause as well as a consequence of poverty and that the majority of poor and food insecure people live in the rural areas. It follows that achieving massive and sustainable poverty reduction entails targeting hunger directly so as to increase productivity and the productive potential of those who suffer from it, and stimulate agriculture and rural development essential for overall economic growth and sustainable rural poverty reduction. The updated national strategies are expected to address the entire rural space, considering spatial, sectoral as well as micro-macro linkages, the urban dimension of food insecurity and cross cutting issues such as public sector reform, decentralisation, trade and macro-economic reforms.


6. To implement the Initiative, the FAO Representatives (FAORs), supported by the Policy Assistance Division (TCA) and its decentralised Policy Assistance Branches and Units in the Regional and Subregional offices of FAO, carried out two initial steps: (1) an inventory of current national strategy and policy processes and documents, and (2) the preparation of Country Policy Profiles (CPPs). The CPPs are expected to progressively evolve into the key tool for policy dialogue between FAO and national decision-makers. The CPPs will enable the targeting and calibration of FAO policy support to countries in ways and levels appropriate to their policy status, thereby helping strengthen policy networking and resource mobilization. A total of 105 CPPs have been prepared, 21 of which for countries in Asia and the Pacific Region


7. The review and updating of national strategies and policies encompassed a country ownership approach. With FAO providing technical assistance, the process was owned and carried out by governments with full stakeholder participation.

8. The implementation of the Initiative appropriately started with an inventory of the current situation of strategy and policy formulation and implementation in the country. The initial steps involved, first, filling out a country strategy and policy process assessment questionnaire and, second, preparing Country Policy Profiles. These activities were collaboratively implemented by the FAORs and Policy Assistance Branches and Units.

9. The inventory obtained information on ten countries in Asia1 and seven in the Pacific2 on: (a) availability of national strategy documents and policy papers; (b) on-going country processes to formulate strategies and policies; (c) FAOR assessment of country needs; (d) FAO assistance to the country on policy and strategy formulation; (e) availability of information to build poverty and food security profiles; and (f) country strengths and weaknesses in strategies and policies.

10. Country Policy Profiles were prepared for 21 countries in Asia3 and 14 in the Pacific.4 These were prepared by the FAO Representatives using guidelines provided by TCA. In countries without a resident FAOR, the CPPs were prepared by technical missions fielded by the Policy Assistance Branch for Asia and the Pacific (RAPP) and the Subregional Office for the Pacific Islands (SAPA). The missions held consultations and discussions with concerned government officials and enabled RAPP and SAPA to obtain information on country policies, food security, agriculture and rural development, as well as set the stage for country participation and ownership.

11. The CPPs obtained information on: (a) overview of the critical issues in agricultural and rural development; (b) inventory of current policies and strategies; (c) any on-going policy processes; (d) a picture of the state of implementation of strategies and policies; (e) a description of the institutional mechanisms and structure to formulate, implement and monitor food security, agricultural and rural development policies; and (f) a summary of the country’s policy support needs and FAO’s assistance to the government.


12. Taken together, the CPPs and country questionnaires indicate much diversity in the situation of the policy framework for food security, agriculture and rural development among countries in the Asia-Pacific. The governments of some countries have produced relatively large sets of policy and strategy documents, while others have none or have only limited documentation.

13. Countries in Asia, with the exception of four, have a relatively large number of documents defining their respective government’s policies and strategies for agriculture and rural development, including periodic development plans, strategy documents for agricultural and/or rural development, Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers, food security and subsector (livestock, fisheries, forestry, land, water, credit, fertilizer, seeds, research and extension, etc.) policy papers. However, some countries have not produced all of the documents listed above. Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) have been produced in only seven of the 21 Asian countries.5 Thus, most countries in Asia have a relatively well developed strategy and policy framework.

14. FAO is currently assisting those countries with a relatively less developed strategy and policy framework through various technical cooperation projects to strengthen their capacities for sector policy analysis and project development and implementation. These countries have also been provided direct technical support in the preparation of agricultural development plans and assessment of international competitiveness of their agricultural sector in the context of their accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and regional trading arrangements, and measures to enhance their efficiency and competitiveness of key export products.

15. Ten out of the 14 Pacific countries also have a comprehensive set of documents defining their respective governments’ sectoral policy frameworks. These documents do not include PRSPs. The policy frameworks in several of the Pacific countries are largely defined by the Draft Strategy for National Agricultural Development: Horizon 2010 prepared with FAO support in 2000-2002. So far, five of the ten Pacific Island countries have officially endorsed the policy framework.

16. The CPPs identified main policy issues not yet covered by existing strategies/policies6 and short-term (2003-2006) country policy support needs. Notwithstanding the diversity of the policy support needs identified in consultation with the countries, there are several policy domain areas for which policy support is needed by more than one country in the short-term. These areas include agriculture sector/policy review, agriculture development strategy, capacity building on policy analysis, formulation and implementation, and agricultural production diversification. In the case of Afghanistan, Myanmar and Timor Leste, the Organization has already started to provide the assistance needed.


17. The Initiative does not set itself in competition with other national and international efforts to fight poverty and hunger. It is envisaged to be harmonised with other anti-poverty and anti-hunger plans and policies that are ongoing or in the pipeline in each participating country. The contribution of the Initiative can be that of mainstreaming food security as an overarching goal in regional, national, and local policy design and implementation. Furthermore, the Initiative would exploit the momentum offered by the renewed attention to hunger and agricultural and rural development in the agenda of the main donors in the development community, as well as of the countries that are expressing interest in participating in the Initiative.

18. In particular, coordination with the PRSP and other nationally owned development strategies to address poverty and hunger is emphasized. The Initiative is designed to maximise its impact by striving to emphasise the need for a food security focus in such strategies from within, rather than working in parallel to theses processes. As national anti-poverty resources are increasingly being allocated according to the strategies devised in the context of the PRSPs, this will also ensure that human and financial resource constraints to the implementation of the strategy are, to the extent possible, eased.

19. To translate the broad food security vision envisaged by the Initiative into operational practice, the Initiative recognises that FAO’s traditionally close collaboration with the ministries of agriculture needs to be broadened to include other ministries and development agencies with key roles in national policy formulation for agricultural and rural development and food security. Incorporating food security concerns in the entire policy domain (including macroeconomic, education, health policies and others) requires wider coordination among different government agencies through the national planning agency, president/prime minister’s office or some other entity which can ensure overall coordination and a comprehensive vision and action.


20. The Initiative to review and update national agricultural, rural development and food security strategies has led to identification of country policy support needs. While the information has been documented in the Country Policy Profiles, in most cases these have not been officially submitted in the form of requests for assistance from the concerned governments. Notwithstanding this procedural requirement, the further implementation of the Initiative requires the establishment of continuing policy dialogue with the concerned governments.

21. The Policy Assistance Branches and Units of FAO are not sufficiently equipped to carry out the intensified dialogue process demanded by the Initiative simultaneously with all member states. Therefore, a phased approach is intended, with the phasing determined by elements including: (a) situation of country policy process; (b) extent of national food insecurity; (c) existence of official request for FAO policy assistance; and (d) institutional capacity for analysis and formulation of policies.

22. A preliminary application of the phasing approach to the 35 countries of the Asia-Pacific suggests that nine countries would fall in Phase One,7 befitting immediate support. In many of the Phase One countries FAO’s assistance is currently ongoing. There are 16 countries in Phase Two,8 which will be assisted after the Phase One countries have been served, and ten in Phase Three.9 The Phase Three countries are targeted for limited action at much later stages of the Initiative.

1 Bangladesh, Cambodia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
2 The Cook Islands, the Marshall Islands, Niue, Palau, Tonga, Samoa and Solomon Islands.
3 Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, DPR Korea, India, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Republic of Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor Leste and Viet Nam.
4 The Cook Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
5 The World Bank and International Monetary Fund have required PRSPs only from countries that are currently recipients or expect to be recipients of concessional aid.
6 Detailed country information on this matter can be obtained from the Policy Assistance Branch for Asia and the Pacific.
7 Afghanistan, the Federated States of Micronesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nauru, Palau, Timor Leste, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
8 Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Fiji, Indonesia, Kiribati, Lao PDR, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Samoa, Sri Lanka, Tonga and Viet Nam.
9 China, the Cook Islands, DPR Korea, India, Malaysia, the Marshall Islands, Niue, Republic of Korea, Solomon Islands and Thailand.