Twenty-seventh FAO Regional Conference for the Near East

Doha, Qatar, 13 - 17 March 2004

Report on FAO Activities in the Near East Region in 2002-2003

Table of contents


The following is a brief summary of the actions taken on the recommendations made by the Twenty-sixth Session of the FAO Regional Conference for the Near East:

General Debate

1. FAO to provide, within its available resources, technical and financial support for the rehabilitation of the agricultural sector in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and assist in approaching the donor community to finance the reconstruction of that sector.

- FAO supported the rehabilitation of the agriculture sector in the West Bank and Gaza Strip (WBGS) on several fronts. Activities undertaken include: appointing an FAO Programme Coordinator, in collaboration with WFP, as focal points in the Food and Nutrition Sector. The Emergency Group, undertook with WFP, a comprehensive food security and nutrition assessment across all districts, and participated in drafting a Food Security Strategy for the Humanitarian Plan of Action for 2003. This work was in collaboration with UNDP and the Ministry of Agriculture in the Palestinian Authority, aiming at the preparation of an Agriculture Revitalization Programme for the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

2. FAO to provide every possible assistance to the most vulnerable countries to food insecurity in the Region.

- FAO has intensified its assistance to Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan and the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Activities undertaken included: a project in support of the Improvement of Food Security, Nutrition and Livelihoods in Afghanistan (Phase III); funding of the long running Food Security Assessment Unit in Somalia; contribution to the UN Contingency Planning for Peace in Sudan; and the Palestinian Food Security Assessment Project which was implemented during the first half of 2003. FAO is currently involved in implementing, with Australian funds, the establishment of a Palestinian Food Insecurity and Vulnerability Information Mapping System.

3. FAO to assist Member States in formulating relevant subregional agricultural development strategies, that would maximize benefits based on complementarities and comparative advantage of each country.

- The Policy Assistance Branch in Cairo contributed to the World Food Summit: five years later side events on “Regional Food Security at Work”, and prepared draft documents for Regional Strategies for Food Security for the Regional Economic Groups in the Near East.

- In December 2002 the Subregional Office in Tunis, in cooperation with the Policy Assistance Division in Rome, provided professional and organizational support to the Heads of State and Government Meeting held in Abuja, Nigeria, and its preparatory meetings at the expert and ministerial levels. The main theme was the “Role of Regional Economic Organizations and Regional Economic Communities in implementing the NEPAD programme for agriculture and the Regional Programmes for Food Security”.

4. FAO to encourage and assist Member States to conduct animal disease surveys and to develop appropriate quarantine and control measures to safeguard their communities against BSE, FMD and other zoonotic contagious diseases, in cooperation with OIE, as well as to assist in establishing regional/sub-regional reference laboratories independently, or in affiliation with other international reference laboratories.

- A draft proposal for a five-year regional project to gain regional control of FMD and Transboundary Animal Diseases centering on Turkey and surrounding countries was prepared.

Follow-up to the World Food Summit

5. FAO to formulate specific and clear operational modality for effecting the “International Alliance Against Hunger and Poverty”, based on the call made by the President of the Federal Republic of Germany on the occasion of World Food Day 2001 in Rome, and submit the proposed modality to Member Countries for consideration and approval.

- FAO co-sponsored the organizing of a High-level Technical Joint Workshop, hosted by the Islamic Development Bank in Jeddah (October 2003) on “Regional Programmes for Food Security in the Near East: Towards Sustainable Food Security and Poverty Alleviation.

6. FAO 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 initiative.

- FAO prepared SPFS document to assist Yemen in alleviating the critical water shortages.

- A South-South Cooperation Agreement among FAO, Djibouti and Egypt was implemented and concluded in December 2002.

- The SPFS and South-South Cooperation with China has been ongoing as a pilot project in Mauritania.

Trade Liberalization Policies, Intra-regional Trade and Opportunities for Sustainable Agricultural Development

7. FAO to continue assisting countries in preparing for multilateral trade negotiations in agriculture, fisheries and forestry inter alia through studies, analysis and enhancing national capacities in the area of agricultural policy analysis related to international trade and WTO requirements, with emphasis on issues pertaining to the current round of negotiations.

- FAO provided support to WTO member countries on the current issues of the WTO negotiations on agriculture. An in-depth assessment of the experience with the implementation of the Agreement on Agriculture was undertaken for Egypt and Morocco.
- An Internet site on FAO trade-related work was established and it is available in Arabic.

- FAO participated in the Inter-Agency Panel established by the Fourth WTO Ministerial Conference in Doha to explore ways and means for improving access by least-developed and net food-importing developing countries to multilateral programmes to assist with short-term difficulties in financing normal levels of commercial imports of basic foodstuffs, as well as the concept of establishing a relevant revolving fund. Several countries in the Near East were among this Group.

8. FAO to assist Member Countries of the Region to analyse recent changes in the global economic and trade environments and to assess the implications of globalization on the agricultural sectors in the Region, through holding of regional/subregional workshops or expert meetings.

- FAO provided technical assistance on multilateral trade negotiations to Iran, Jordan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria and United Arab Emirates.

- FAO assisted in promoting regional economic integration by collaborating with Regional Economic Organizations for preparing Regional Strategies and Programmes for Agricultural Development and Food Security.

- FAO implemented capacity building and developed training modules on trade and policy issues for Jordan, Syria, Tunisia, and Kyrgyzstan (with a Russian version).

9. FAO to assist in strengthening of national capacities to meet Codex requirements and WTO Agreements on the SPS and TRIPS, including food quality and safety.

- FAO in collaboration with the Council for Arab Economic Unity organized a regional training workshop on Codex Alimentarius in September 2003.

10. FAO to continue providing assistance in developing agricultural sector strategies based on comparative advantage and efficient resource allocation, taking into consideration environmental and gender aspects in order to reap the benefits of trade liberalization and to cope with its negative impact.

- FAO highly considered the issues of policy reform and sustainable food security in assistance provided to: Bahrain, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia, Uzbekistan and Yemen.

- FAO provided technical support and advice for the integration of gender dimension in the formulation of policies, legislation and programmes. In this context, TCP Projects were initiated in Algeria, Jordan, Syria and Tunisia.

- FAO organized in May 2003, at Cairo University, sessions of regional training of trainers on Socio-economic and Gender Analysis Programmes, in addition to a regional workshop for Gender Focal Points of the Near East Countries.

11. FAO to support efforts for enhancing the country food supply capacity by reducing small farmer risk in rainfed areas and re-orienting land use in irrigated lands.

- FAO assisted Egypt and Sudan in activating the role of Water Users Associations; implemented SPFS in Jordan, Sudan and Yemen; and expanded the application of the Land Resources Information System in many countries of the region. FAO is also assisting in the preparation of strategies specific to small and medium farms in Morocco and Tunisia.

12. FAO to participate in, and encourage regional/sub-regional group actions to confront environmental threats (such as desertification, pollution and transboundary plant and animal diseases) and other similar threats that cut across national borders.

- RNE is actively involved in regional and international networks including: West Asia and North Africa Plant Genetic Resources Network; the Joint Committee on Environment and Development in the Arab Region; and the FAO/CIHEAM Inter-regional Co-operative Research and Development Network for Pastures and Fodder Crops. In addition, FAO continued to serve member countries through the Emergency Prevention System for Transboundary Animal and Plant Pests and Diseases (EMPRES), which is instrumental in addressing regional animal transboundary diseases.

- FAO implemented -the IFAD-funded project “Regional Animal Disease and Information Network (RADISCON)” in 29 countries, out of which 22 belong to the region. Phase II of this project focused on the updating of surveillance tools, assistance in the review of legislation and harmonization along clusters and the preparation of contingency plans with a gradual shift from project-led country activities to country-led regional activities.

13. FAO to assist in organizing a Regional Expert Consultation on capacity building in the area of post-harvest technology, food processing, agro-industries, food safety and standards, in the context of export markets’ requirements, in collaboration with UNIDO and other relevant international and regional agencies and institutions.

- FAO assisted in the strengthening of research institutions in the region, through supporting the regional research forum (AARINENA), whereby three studies were conducted to strengthen Research and Extension Institutional Linkages.

- In February 2002 FAO held a regional workshop on “Post-harvest” in Cairo. Another three regional post-harvest training workshops (Training of Trainers) were conducted in Jordan, Tunisia and Turkey.

- FAO supported the Global Date Palm, and Olive Networks, and promoted the dissemination of information through the Virtual Extension and Research Communication Network (VERCON).

- RNE conducted two studies on technology transfer in the region and on agricultural knowledge and information system for rural development in Egypt.

14. FAO to continue supporting the Near East and North Africa Regional Network for Agricultural Policies (NENARNAP) and the Agricultural Food Marketing Association for the Near East and North Africa (AFMANENA) through active participation in their meetings and activities and the exchange of experiences and information concerning the formulation and implementation of national strategies for agricultural development and the development of effective marketing systems and intra-regional agricultural trade arrangements.

- FAO supported AFMANENA through joint meetings, studies and training programmes. Two regional meetings on contract-farming and on strategies and programmes for elimination of major marketing constraints were held.

- FAO supported NENARNAP, which was officially launched and its by-laws and workplan were approved.

International Year of Mountains (IYM), 2002

15. FAO to convene, as early as feasible, an Expert Consultation on the Long-Term and Sustainable Development of Mountain Regions.

- The matter is under consideration.

Long-term Plans for Drought Mitigation and Management in the Near East

16. FAO to provide technical assistance and advisory support to Member Countries in formulating and developing their long-term Action Programmes for Drought Mitigation.

- Activities undertaken included: Regional Workshop on Capacity Building in Drought Mitigation in the Near East, in Rabat, in November 2002; updated regional Database on Drought Mitigation; and formulation of National TCP project documents for Iran, Jordan, Syria and Turkey.

- The FAO Rural Institutions and Participation Service (SDAR) launched an inter-regional comparative study on “The Role of Local Level Institutions in Reducing Vulnerability to Natural Disasters”, which included the Near East Region.

17. FAO to examine the feasibility of establishing a regional drought monitoring and early warning system for assisting Member States to cope with drought, with FAO as the lead agency and in collaboration with relevant international and regional organizations, and explore possibilities of funding with potential donor agencies.

- The feasibility of the system was examined in consultation with CIHEAM, ICARDA and other interested organizations, and efforts for implementation are underway.

18. FAO to assist Member States in the formulation of a Regional Project on Drought Mitigation for submission to interested donors.

- A regional TCP project on Drought Preparedness and Management was prepared for submission to donors.

19. FAO to support the operation and sustainability of the recently launched Regional Network on Drought Management for the Near East and North Africa.

- FAO gave the necessary support to the recently established network and efforts are being made to link with the International Secretariat for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) in Geneva.

Animal Health

20. FAO to continue supporting BSE diagnostic, prevention and risk assessment capacity in Member States through national or regional Technical Co-operation Projects (TCPs).

- FAO has initiated a draft TCP Project document on “Capacity Building for Near East Selected Countries “related to BSE Diagnosis and Risk Assessment. An Arabic version of the Proceedings of the Joint WHO/FAO/OIE Technical Consultation on BSE, was produced and distributed.

- Other FAO activities also exist relevant to Transboundary Animal Diseases in the Region as follows: In Egypt, on Surveillance of Rinder Pest (RP) and; in Morocco, on Tuberculosis (TB); in Sudan on CBPP, CCPP and trypanosomosis control; in Syria, on Brucella vaccines and Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) diagnostic; and in Yemen, on RP and other major diseases, in addition to some animal health emergency actions in Jordan and Mauritania.

21. FAO to assist Member States in preparing and implementing an FMD control programme and to examine the possibility of initiating a Regional Project for that purpose, in collaboration with the Animal Health Commission for the Near East and North Africa (AHCNENA) and with other Member States.

- A Global Framework for the Progressive Control of Foot and Mouth Disease and other Transboundary Animal Diseases has been finalized by FAO/WHO/OIE.

- A Roundtable Meeting was organized in October 2003 in collaboration with the Egyptian Veterinary Medical Association and participation of OIE, AOAD, EU-FMD; as well as 10 counties from the Region.

The Tehran Process for Low Forest Cover Countries

22. FAO to support the Tehran Process through a Regional Technical Cooperation Project (TCP) to initiate National Forest Programmes.

- A regional TCP in support of a ‘National Forest Programme’ was formulated and two regional workshops on Urban/Peri-urban Forests in Sustainable Forestry and Livelihoods in Low Forest Cover Countries’’ were organized.


- In addition to the activities mentioned above in section (A), the programme of work during the biennium 2002-2003 included the following:

23. Agricultural Policy Analysis

- FAO continued to provide member countries with technical assistance and advice related to agricultural policy analysis and global and regional economic environment and liberalization; preparations for the next round of negotiations; establishment of FTA with EU and USA; the impact of WTO for members as well as non-members; SPS and food standards/quality control; and food security for LIFDCs. The major activities included providing policy assistance/advice and capacity building to member countries focusing on key priority areas including: water policy reform and sustainable utilization of scarce land and water resources; and spearheading Regional Programmes for Food Security in collaboration with Regional Economic Organizations and funding agencies. In addition, FAO will focus on follow-up to the Plan of Action of the World Food Summit, through preparation of strategic documents and formulation of bankable projects for donor funding. These activities related to agricultural development, capacity building, policy advice and formulation of TCP projects were conducted for Algeria, Bahrain Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Morocco, Qatar, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and Yemen.

24. Agricultural Production and Support Systems

24.1 Field Crops Development

- FAO continued to provide technical assistance to its member countries in the area of agricultural production. Activities included preparation for Technical Documents/Studies and Seminars or Workshops, including the Conference on Organic Agriculture in Arab Countries in collaboration with AOAD (September 2003 in Tunisia); Date Palm Global Network Meeting (June 2003 in Cairo); Workshop on Rice Integrated Crop Management for Food Security in the Near East (July 2003 in Alexandria); Informal Planning and Co-coordinating Meeting for the International Year of Rice-2004 (IYR) (March 2003 in Rome); and Expert Meeting on the Establishment of a Gene Bank for Plant Genetic Resources in the Arab World, held at ICARDA (May 2003 in Aleppo).

24.2 Water Resources

- FAO continued providing its support to member countries of the Near East for achieving more water resources conservation. Activities included: production of guidelines and field-level training in On-farm Water Control Practices; and Irrigation Advisory Services. Several Seminars and Workshops were held in, Morocco, Pakistan, Tunisia and Yemen. A concept paper was prepared on “Comparative Assessment of Links between Irrigation Water Pricing and Irrigation Performance in the Near East”, and was presented at the Conference on “Irrigation Water Policies: Micro and Macro Considerations” held in Agadir, Morocco, May 2002. The Conference was organized by the World Bank and other organizations, including FAO. A paper was contributed on “Wastewater Reuse in the Near East Region: Experience and Issues” to a Regional Symposium on Water Recycling in Mediterranean Region, held in Greece, in September 2002. The event was organized by the International Water Resources Association, under the auspices of FAO and other organizations.

- In addition, continued efforts were given to provide direct advisory services to member countries related to the water sector. These include: assistance to the Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation in Egypt in activating the role of Water Users Associations; launching of the project “Support to the Development of National Standards for Irrigation” in Syria; formulation of a Special Programme for Food Security in Jordan, Sudan and Yemen.

24.3 Soil and Fertilizers

- FAO continued to help member countries in the area of soils and fertilizers use and management. Activities included: updating of the International Fertilizer Industry Association (IFA) Fertilizer Use Manuals; finalizing the Arabic version of the Farmers Field Schools (FFS) Guidelines Manual and its Modules; expanding the Application of Land Resources Information System (LRIS); and assisting member countries in developing national strategies and plans of action for Drought Preparedness and Mitigation; convening of the “Regional Workshop on Capacity Building in Drought Mitigation in the Near East”, November 2002 in Rabat; updating of the Regional Database on Drought Mitigation; and preparing a draft document for Regional TCP on Drought Preparedness and Management.

24.4 Animal Production and Health

- FAO continued to provide technical support in the area of animal production and health including: production of a Manual on “Technology of Making Cheese from Camel Milk”; and a series of training activities on Animal Genetic Resources in Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Syria, UAE, the West Bank and Gaza Strip and Yemen.

- A technical coordination meeting was held in Cairo in February 2002 to formulate a plan of action for assessing the overall feasibility of an area-wide control operation against Old World Screw-worm (OWS) in the Middle East by usage of the Sterile Insect Technique.

- FAO also continued to prepare relevant technical documents/studies and hold meetings including: supporting the production of the Buffalo Newsletter; supporting the printing of the Second Edition of the “Veterinary Vaccine Production in Near East”; translating into Arabic the WHO/FAO/OIE Publication entitled “Joint Technical Consultation on BSE”; and contributing to the Joint WHO/FAO/OIE Technical Consultation on BSE.

24.5 Grassland and Pasture Development

- The following is a summary of ongoing FAO activities in individual countries in RNE:

- Iraq: Under the “Oil-for-Food” programme, two Consultants on rangelands and fodder crop production were fielded to assess the situation.

- Libya: Involved in rangeland aspects of the FAO managed project “Mapping of Natural Resources for Agricultural Use and Planning”.

- Oman: A TCP project on Range Resource Information Monitoring and Evaluation in the Doffer Region” was prepared.

- Morocco: an FAO trust fund project “Projet de gestion des ressources naturelles dans la province de Taza” is ongoing in Morocco.

- Saudi Arabia: Assistance was provided for the detailed survey and assessment of rangeland management. FAO also helped in establishment of District Grazing Committees for sustainable management of the rangelands in Saudi Arabia.

- Syria: FAO continued its technical support to project “Range Rehabilitation and Establishment of a Wildlife Reserve in the Syrian Steppe (Consolidation Phase II)”.

- Yemen:  the FAO experience in Prosopis and previous technologies developed under a TCP Project in Brazil was utilized as a means to stabilize the semi-arid agriculture in Yemen. A draft project proposal for management of the rangelands in Yemen for donor financing is in preparation.

- RNE is actively involved in regional and international networks including: West Asia and North Africa Plant Genetic Resources Network (WANANET); the Joint Committee on Environment and Development in the Arab Region; and the FAO/CIHEAM Inter-regional Cooperative Research and Development Network for Pastures and Fodder Crops. There is also an ongoing Oat-Vetch Network for several North African countries with scientists from Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia.

24.6 Agricultural Marketing and Rural Finance

- FAO continued to give support and technical assistance to Agricultural Marketing and Rural Finance Networks (AFMANENA and NENARACA). Marketing activities included: Regional Seminars on Strategies and Programmes for Elimination of Major Marketing Constraints (Lebanon, 2003); Contract Farming (Jordan, 2003); technical assistance in formulation of marketing programmes for projects on integrated production of cash crop in Yemen; studies on improved post-harvest handling and export promotion in selected countries in the Near East; and translation into Arabic of a number of publications concerning marketing policies, regulation, information, marketing costs and contract farming.

-In addition, the effected rural finance activities included: providing support to NENARACA in carrying out studies on reforming rural finance institution in Jordan and Syria; development of micro-finance in the Near East; backstopping TCP project on microcredit in Yemen; and organizing a seminar, in cooperation with NENARACA, on “Administration and Management of Rural Credit for Small Scale Farmers”.

24.7 Agro-industry and Food Processing

- On going activities included the following:

24.8 Research, Extension and Training

- FAO continued giving support to member countries in strengthening their research institutions through support to the Regional Forum (AARINENA), the Global Date Palm Network and the Olive Network. Other activities included: regional study on the status and performance of extension systems in the region; Needs and Opportunities for Rural Youth in Egypt; technical support to the FAO/UNFPA Field Programme Partnership on “Integration of Environmental and Population Education in Extension Programmes” conducted in several countries in the region; translation into Arabic of several key FAO publications on extension and education; and development of a Database for Extension Organizations in the Near East.

24.9 Crop Protection

- Activities undertaken included: Initiation of a regional database on National and International Plant Protection Policies; Regional Technical Consultation on Draft International Standards for Phyto-sanitary Measures (ISPMs); Workshop on Phyto-sanitary Capacity Evaluation and Phyto-sanitary Measures; Regional Workshops on the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Programme in the Region; Regional Training on Peach Fruit Fly (PFF) Management; and Support to the Arab Society for Plant Protection.

- In addition, FAO is implementing several country-specific projects to strengthen national capabilities in plant protection, such as: Assistance in Agricultural Development in Saudi Arabia and “Enhancing National Capability in the Control of Pesticide Residue Analysis in Crops”, in Algeria. Also FAO is developing a regional programme on the management of the Peach Fruit Fly in North Africa.

25. Food Security and Sustainable Livelihoods

- FAO continued to give technical assistance to member countries in the area of food security and sustainable livelihood. Activities included: contribution to “Youth Employment Summit in Egypt, 2002”; “Needs Assessment Study for Improvement of Production and Marketing of Non-traditional, Exportable Products for Small and Medium-scale Farmers”; translation into Arabic of “Compendium of FAO Experiences in Basic Education”; and an FAO paper on “Targeting the Rural Poor: the Role of Education and Training”.

- Several relevant projects were implemented: “Enhancing Rural People’s Understanding of Rural Health and Gender Issues in Yemen”; a project proposal on “Intensification and Diversification of the Agricultural Production Systems to Support Food Security in the New Valley in Egypt”.

- In addition, several activities related to food information systems and food security were developed for Djibouti, Syria and Yemen while providing support for the Establishment of National FIVIMS units in a number of countries in the region.

26. Gender and Population:

- FAO continued to provide assistance in support of the advancement of rural women and gender equality in agriculture and rural development, based on the commitments and recommendations reflected in the Political Declaration adopted in June 2002 at the WFS: fyl and the FAO Gender and Development Plan of Action for 2002-2007, endorsed by the Conference in November 2001. Technical advice was provided to member countries for the integration of a gender dimension in the formulation of policies, legislation and programmes, in agricultural censuses and in the SPFS projects. Regional Training of Trainers sessions on the Socio-economic and Gender Analysis Programme, were organized and technical documents related to socio-cultural characteristics of the Near East Region were prepared in Arabic, English and French.

27. Forestry Development and Management

- FAO undertook continuous efforts to help member’s countries in the area of forestry, including the following main activities:

28. Fisheries and Aquaculture Development

- FAO continued activities for development of fisheries resources including: the organization of an environment-friendly fisheries and aquaculture workshop in September 2002 in cooperation with the Regional Organization for the Protection of Environment of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden and jointly with a USAID project in Egypt; the Seventh Arab Conference about the Arab Countries Experience to Increase and Develop Aquaculture and Aquatic Livings (October 2002 in Cairo); Regional Seminar on Fish Trade (October 2002 in Cairo); and the Arab Conference on Fisheries Management (November 2002 in Sana’a).

- In addition, a technical meeting was held in Muscat, Oman, in May 2002 to discuss terms of reference for the Aquaculture Committee and review activities of the Fisheries Management Committee with participants from Bahrain, Iran, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates. Also assistance was given to organize a training course on the “Use of By-catch Reduction Devices on Dhow Boats in Kuwait.”

29. Special Programme for Food Security

- FAO continued to support and expand the SPFS which was launched in 1994. As a follow-up to an SPFS project in Yemen, a TCP document was finalized for an extension phase. A new formulation mission was undertaken in February 2003 and a Quadri-partite Agreement between with FAO, Djibouti, Morocco and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) was prepared and submitted to the Governments of Djibouti and Morocco in June 2003 for approval. This is a cost-sharing project including the four parties with partial financing by the Islamic Development Bank. An extension phase for two years (2001-2003) was prepared for Mauritania whereby some 20 Chinese experts and technicians were sent to the various identified production zones for helping to propagate improved rice production techniques, horticulture and animal diversification, home gardening, efficient irrigation water management, improved cereal and legumes production, farmers’ organization and training of farmers.


30. Agricultural Production and Support Systems

- The main priorities in relation to agricultural production and support systems in the Near East are: conservation and rational management of land, water and other natural resources; sustainable increase in food production and productivity; drought mitigation; and management and promotion of technical and economic cooperation among member countries including expansion of intra-regional trade in agricultural products.

- In this context, the following are the main planned activities:

31. Food Security and Agricultural Development

- Assistance would continue to be provided to member countries for improving nutritional status of people through implementation of National Plans of Action for Nutrition. Relevant activities would include: the continuous follow-up of the household food security and nutrition situation in the region; assistance for planning and implementation of programmes that aim at reducing under-, over-nutrition, and micro nutrient deficiencies in urban and rural zones through the promotion of food-based approaches; dissemination of sound food safety and nutrition information in schools and through the different forms of mass media; building national capacities to improve food safety, food inspection and control; and the harmonization of national food standards with the Codex Alimentarius.

- Other areas of primary focus would be on preparation of analytical tools and training materials for gender disaggregated data and analysis for development planning and practices. Emphasis will be given to the promotion of innovative approaches for income-generating activities based on local resources to improve income and livelihoods.

- In addition: preparation of analytical tools, methodologies, guidelines and training materials for gender disaggregated data and analysis for policy-making and programme formulation; building of capacities and skills for gender analysis; documentation and dissemination of information on gender roles in Rural and Bedouin areas in the region, and promotion of the valorization of both rural men’s and women’s rights, development potential, and indigenous knowledge and practices.

32. Fisheries

- To assist member countries in developing their fisheries resources and aquaculture on a sustainable basis, FAO supporting assistance would include: improvement of collection, quality and reliability of fisheries statistics; capacity building; promotion of regional and subregional cooperation in fisheries development including management of shared stocks; intra-regional trade; strengthening of regional and subregional fisheries commissions; and implementation of the code conduct for sustainable fisheries and related International Plans of Action.

33. Forestry

-FAO is cooperating with relevant institutions in the region to launch Forestry Outlook Study for Western and Central Asia (FOWECA) in response to a recommendation by the Fifteenth Session of NEFC (January 2002). The initial thoughts were presented to a regional workshop of LFCC in Tehran, Iran, in October 2002 and an NEFC intersession meeting in Alexandria, Egypt (June 2003).

34. Range Land and Pasture Development

- Emphasis will be given to the need for synergy between FAO Regular Programme and field projects; developing new projects; and activities that will benefit the region and increase income generation. Future work will focus on rangeland monitoring, use of indigenous species for range improvement, propagation of range plant seeds and understanding their storage requirements.

- Efforts would continue to develop Country Pasture Resource Profiles for Egypt, Mauritania, Morocco, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Saudi Arabia. The programme will continue to contribute to updating the Grassland Index/Picture Gallery with photographs; supporting regional and international networks relevant to rangeland/pasture and pastoral systems; and promoting rangeland issues related to resource tenure, policy and strategies for their sustainable management.

35. Crop Protection

- The main priorities will be given to the promotion of regional IPM programmes; implementation of the International Code of Conduct on the Distribution and Use of Pesticides and the related International Plant Protection Conventions. In this regard, a focus would be on capacity building for implementing the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC); establishment of the Near East Plant Protection Organization (NEPPO); and regional technical assistance in the area of plant quarantine and development of Databases related to national and international plant protection policies.

36. Research, Extension and Training

- Bearing in mind the wide variations among countries of the region, FAO would continue to promote adoption of applied research and suitable technologies for perishable food products. FAO would continue support for improving biotechnology application; capacity building and promote awareness on GMOs and bio-safety; strengthening agricultural research and technology development institutions; and utilizing available resources with emphasis on research support to small-scale agro-industries in rural and peri-urban areas.

- In addition, emphasis will be given to the review and assessment of performance of extension systems, taking into consideration the specific situation and needs of each country and to the development and facilitation of effective research, extension, education linkages and interactions at national and regional level, through the use of the Virtual Extension Research Communication Network (VERCON). FAO would also provide support to capacity building in Information Technology for enhanced linkages and improved information access/sharing for research, extension and education institutions.

37. Policy Assistance

- The Policy Assistance Branch would continue to focus its work on providing policy assistance/advice and capacity building to member countries, particularly in these priority areas: water policy reform for sustainable utilization of scarce water and land resources; and technical support to spearheading Regional Programmes for Food Security in collaboration with Regional Economic Organizations (REO) and funding agencies. In addition, FAO would focus on follow-up of the Plan of Action of the World Food Summit, and taking a lead for FAO efforts towards field programme development in the region through the preparation of strategic and programming documents and the formulation of bankable projects for submission to donors.

- The major activities would include: strengthening capacities for the Secretariats of the REO and Regional Programmes for Food Security including bankable projects; strengthening national capacities in policy analysis and formulation; fielding of programming missions and formulation of bankable programmes and projects; developing country briefs and database information to countries on FAO capacities and programmes; issuing papers (including project ideas/briefs); conducting sector/sub-sector reviews and strategy papers, analyses of national policy issues, workshops and training; publishing analytical reports on constraints for achieving sustainable food security; and providing technical support and contribution to activities related to the food security programmes in the region.