Beijing, China, 17 – 21 May 2004



17 – 19 May 2004


1. Opening of the Senior Officers Meeting

2. Election of the Chairperson, Vice-Chairpersons and Appointment of Rapporteur

3. Adoption of Agenda and Timetable


4. Rice in Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development in Asia and the Pacific

The purpose of this paper is to assess the role of rice in sustainable agriculture and rural development in the region covering environmental impact, farming systems, technology and food security. It focuses on emerging issues in the rice sector such as land degradation and water scarcity; rising frequency and impact of natural disasters; increasing deprivation in terms of land, capital and services; inappropriate technology; unemployment and underemployment; and growing inequity of income distribution. On the basis of the assessment, the paper highlights the lessons learnt and suggests policy and programme guidelines to leverage the contribution of rice to sustainable agriculture and rural development as well as to promote an efficient rice sector.

5. Institution Building to Strengthen Agriculture Extension

The modernization of traditional farm systems in Asia and the Pacific has created an increasing demand for effective extension support services. Farm households, local entrepreneurs, farmer organizations, cooperatives, traders and local NGOs require timely and appropriate information on markets, production and processing technologies, government policies and regulations, and local government codes. However, over the last decade, the institutional capacity to respond to the rapid changes in the demand and type of information required has been severely affected. Based on a vision of “better management through improved information”, this document will draw upon lessons learnt to suggest appropriate institutional interventions for strengthening extension support services aimed at sustainable agricultural and rural development

6. Follow-up to the World Food Summit and the World Food Summit:five years later: Regional Dimensions

6A. Subregional strategy for food security


7. Seed Policy and Regulations in the Light of the International Treaty on PGRFA and the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety

Seed plays a pivotal role in sustainable agriculture as the means for conservation of genetic resources and as the vehicle for technology transfer, including the transfer of the end products obtained through biotechnological innovations. This may include: building partnerships between private and public sector through mutually complementary roles of partners aimed at achieving sustainable and efficient seed supply at all times; the identifying of opportunities to build public/private sector partnerships; promotion of complementarity among seed supply systems and their proper linkages with PGRFA and establishing a mechanism to ensure fair competition among seed supply systems and diversity in the markets to increase farmers’ choice; improving seed rules and regulations to take cognisance of diversity-rich seed markets, good quality control systems, and variety release/IPR aspects; ensuring compatibility of seed regulatory frameworks; and promoting access and transfer of technologies.

Regional Seed Policy and Planning Meetings organised by FAO between 1998 and 2001 revealed that access of farmers to a wide range of varieties of crops to meet the various agro-ecological and socio-economic needs is hampered by inappropriate policies as well as deficient and restrictive legislations and regulations. Therefore, FAO’s programme has been developed to assist member countries at the national, subregional and regional level in the development of harmonized seed policies including legislation and regulations to improve sustainable seed systems. The paper proposes to continue the process of harmonising rules and regulations at regional and subregional level, so as to facilitate movements of seed across boundaries and enhance the access of farmers to modern technologies introduced through seed, while at the same time minimizing the hazardous effects.

8. First Report on the State of the World’s Animal Genetic Resources – Progress Report

In March 2001, with reference to the FAO Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, the Director-General invited Member States and some of the Non-member Governments to join the process in preparing country reports in animal genetic resources. FAO as Secretariat is coordinating the preparatory work on the First Report on the State of the World’s Animal Genetic Resources. In September 2000 the Inter-governmental Technical Working Group on Animal Genetic Resources, a subsidiary body of the Commission, agreed on the main technical areas to be included in the Report and set the end of 2005 as the deadline for its completion.

The Report is an integral part of the Global Strategy for the Management of Farm Animal Genetic Resources. In addition to a comprehensive inventory of the animal genetic resources, it describes the present and future status and roles of these resources and allows for animal genetic resources to be assessed in terms of their contribution to sustainable development and food security. Specifically, the contribution of the State of the World’s process (the Process) as well as the first Report itself (the Report) will be to further develop and implement the Global Strategy.

9. The International Year of Rice — 2004

In December 2002, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) declared the year 2004 the International Year of Rice (IYR). The resolution, submitted by the Government of the Philippines and co-sponsored by 43 countries, invited FAO to facilitate implementation of IYR. This unprecedented dedication of an International Year to a single crop is drawn from the understanding of the importance of rice and rice-based systems to a wide range of issues such as food security, poverty alleviation, sustainable development, preservation of cultural heritage and biodiversity, scientific cooperation and economic policy. Rice is the staple food for more than half of the world's population. In Asia alone, more than two billion people obtain 60 to 70 percent of their caloric intake from rice and its derived products. The major role of this crop with regard to nourishment and livelihoods implies that stagnant rice production would be devastating to previous achievements in food security and poverty alleviation. Furthermore, the impact of rice production on the environment is enormous, making a sustainable approach to its cultivation a priority for long-term food security and human health.

The fundamental objective of the IYR is to promote and provide guidance for efficient and sustainable rice development now and in the medium and long-term. The strategy is to engage the entire community of interests including UN agencies and international developmental and research organizations, governments of rice producing and consuming countries and diverse sectors of civil society in establishing combined and mutually beneficial actions for facing the challenges associated with a sustainable increase in rice production. Stakeholders at an informal International Working Group for IYR held from 6-7 March 2003, agreed upon a slogan for the Year, "Rice is Life.” A multi-media communication strategy to disseminate information on rice-based systems and IYR activities has been developed. This strategy will seek to raise global awareness of rice problems through use of videos and educational material and also through an IYR website at http://www.rice2004.org. In order for IYR activities to succeed, contributions from a wide range of sources will be necessary to implement the activities and to employ the Year as a catalyst for information exchange and the initiation of medium and long-term programmes for sustainable rice development.

10. FAO Strategic Framework for Bridging the Rural Digital Divide

Knowledge is central to development and hence also to food security. There are considerable resources of knowledge and information that are not yet available to poor people to assist them in dealing more effectively with the root causes of their hunger and poverty. The new information and communications technologies and the increased priority and resources for information exchange, have the potential to improve the access to and benefits from this accumulated knowledge to reduce hunger and support agricultural development. However, an information gap or “digital divide” separates those most in need from much of the world’s information and knowledge resources. FAO's new “Programme for Bridging the Rural Digital Divide to reduce Food Insecurity and Poverty” provides the mechanism through which FAO is facilitating a global partnership to address the rural digital divide. The scope and nature of this programme will be presented and linked to different aspects of FAO’s work in Asia and the Pacific at national and sub-national levels, through the strengthening of human and institutional capacities to harness information and knowledge more effectively in support of agricultural development and food security.

11. Impact of Climate Change on Agriculture in Asia and the Pacific

Asia and the Pacific are particularly vulnerable to climate change impacts. Those impacts will be felt across all sectors of agriculture but large differences are anticipated between temperate Asia, tropical Asia and small islands. Major uncertainties derive from insufficient understanding of climate change effects on the behaviour of monsoons, on the frequency and distribution of cyclones and on the El Niņo phenomenon – which is known to have a very significant effect in South-East Asia. Rainfall variability is likely to increase but future characteristics cannot be predicted with accuracy. Little is known about the pace of the changes, although climate change is projected to occur at a rapid rate compared with the speed at which forest species grow. Impact studies vary significantly between authors.

Much work was dedicated to the decrease of the mass of mountain glaciers and their effect on rivers in Asia. Run-off from glaciers will initially increase (up to 3-fold) but subsequently the water supply from ice melt will be reduced compared with current values, while at the same time peak flows will increase. In general, dry season flow, a major factor in dry season irrigation, will be under more stress than at present. Particularly for tropical Asia, recent studies point at the risk of glacial lake outburst floods. Substantial elevation shift of ecosystems in highlands and mountains are listed among the most direct and less doubtful effects of increasing temperatures. Sea level rise would lead to land loss through inundation, sea flooding and upstream movement of sea water. Mangroves should be able to migrate land inwards. Especially at risk are the delta regions of Bangladesh, Myanmar, Viet Nam and Thailand, and the low-lying areas of Indonesia, Philippines and Malaysia. On the other hand, small islands, particularly atolls, are very vulnerable to increased water temperature which negatively effect coral growth. Many small islands also depend on rainfall for water, so that changes in rainfall patterns may have a serious effect on the livelihood of populations. They will also be affected by changing patterns of diseases.

Uncertainties affect most impact assessments, as the magnitude, patterns and pace of climate change are uncertain. The response and adaptability of future farming systems under increased population pressure is largely unknown, and so is the general socio-economic setting. The uncertainties constitute one of the major risks.

12. Initiative to Review and Update National Agricultural, Rural Development and Food Security Strategies and Policies


13. Any other business


14. Adoption of the Report of the Senior Officers Meeting

15. Closure of the Senior Officers Meeting


20 – 21 May 2004


1. Inaugural Ceremony

2. Election of the Chairperson, Vice-Chairpersons and Appointment of Rapporteur

3. Adoption of Agenda and Timetable


4. Statement by the Director-General

5. Statement by the Independent Chairperson of the FAO Council

6. Country Statements and General Debate on the Food and Agriculture Situation in the Region

7. Report on FAO Activities in the Region (2002-2003) and Actions Taken on the 26th APRC Recommendations


8. Follow-up to the World Food Summit and the World Food Summit:five years later: Regional Dimensions

9. Report of the Senior Officers Meeting


10. Proposed items to be considered for the Twenty-eighth Regional Conference


11. Date and Place of the 28Th FAO Regional Conference for Asia and the Pacific

12. Adoption of the Report (including the Report of the Senior Officers Meeting)

13. Closure of the Conference