Rome, 9-13 May 2005
Evaluation of Livestock Production, Policy and Information (Programme 2.1.3)
Report of the External Peer Review Panel
1. The External Peer Review Panel on the Evaluation of the Livestock Production, Policy and Information activities included 10 experts: Margaret Gill (Macaulay Institute, Aberdeen), Bonaventure Mtei (SADC, Gaborone), Jan Philipsson (SLU - Swedish Agricultural University, Uppsala), Nipon Poapongsakorn (Faculty of Economics, Thammasat University, Thailand), Agnes Rola (Institute of Strategic Planning and Policy Studies, University of the Philippines), Andrea Rosati (European Association for Animal Production), Carlos Sere (ILRI), Philippe Vialatte (European Commission), Gérard Viatte (formerly of OECD), Akke van der Zijpp (Wageningen University, the Netherlands), who met in Rome from 7 to 10 February 2005. The Panel had detailed discussions with the Assistant Director-General of the Agriculture Department, senior management and staff of AGA (including a presentation and discussion of the 2002 Animal Health Evaluation), as well as with staff from other departments within FAO. The Panel considered the draft Final Synthesis Report prepared by the evaluation team in light of the views expressed by FAO staff. The Panel wishes to express its appreciation to the staff both of PBEE and AGA for their help and for their positive approach to the overall evaluation.
2. The livestock sector is the fastest growing sector in agriculture. The growth in recent years has been high especially in developing countries, where the annual growth rates in the last ten years in livestock has been 3.77 percent compared to 2.71 percent in crops and 1.18 percent in non-food commodities. The consequence of this growth is far reaching, impacting, for example on global requirements for grain production and leading to social and economical change. The livestock sector has the potential to make a major contribution to meeting the Millennium Development Goals and AGA has a responsibility to ensure that its programme is focused on the issues with the potential to facilitate delivery of that contribution.
3. The Panel endorses the public goods approach adopted by AGA and highly commends the contribution made through the three high-profile initiatives led by AGA: Conservation and Management of Animal Genetic Resources, Pro-poor Policy Initiative and the Livestock, and Environment and Development Initiative (LEAD). AGA has the potential through foresight initiatives to identify new initiatives which could make a similar contribution in the future. The Panel notes that activities directly targeting smallholder development are not the only means through which the livestock sector contributes to poverty alleviation.
4. The Panel agree with the evaluation team that AGA staff should take charge to reconsider the mission statement in the light of the evaluation.
5. The Panel believe that the visibility of AGA in FAO (and beyond) has increased in recent years but this increase needs to be further enhanced to reflect the rate of growth of the livestock sector.
6. One way to achieve increased visibility within FAO would be to have more people with a livestock background, or simply a better understanding of livestock systems and issues, in divisions such as the those working on policy, economic and/or social issues. AGA staff should also be proactive in raising livestock issues, such as through participation in PAIAs and other cross-cutting activities (e.g. climate change, HIV/AIDS, gender, etc.). Increased visibility would increase AGA’s ability to provide support to more integrated activities with other FAO divisions.
7. The introduction of livestock as an agenda item in COAG is welcomed, and the Panel agrees that it should be made permanent. The Panel also suggests that it would be appropriate to utilize already existing or planned mechanisms more effectively to strengthen visibility of livestock activities.
8. An AGA communications strategy should be developed, and would contribute to improving visibility. In this regard the Panel attaches high priority to the recommendations on publications and information.
9. The Panel recognizes that AGA staff are stretched in terms of workload and that staffing and budgets are expected to remain constrained over the coming years. Recommendations are made in this context.
10. The Panel endorses the recommendation to further strengthen interdisciplinarity, while recognizing that AGA has been a leader within FAO in integrating policy and technical issues.
11. The Panel fully recognizes the importance of considering livestock as a contributor to broad development goals in conjunction with the other major subsectors such as agriculture, forestry, etc., to achieve MDGs. The Panel endorses the recommendation of integrating AGA’s work more closely into the work of the Agriculture Department. This is consistent with the recommendation of the AGP evaluation to stress crop-livestock integration.
12. To achieve greater interdisciplinarity and effectiveness within the existing FAO structure and workload will require prioritization of key areas of intervention within the AGA MTP developed for the next years. This prioritization of areas should involve FAO staff (both in HQ and the Regional Offices) and other stakeholders e.g. through subregional consultations.
13. Once a more focused and coherent AGA workplan is defined, this will allow a more strategic interaction with selected other parts of the AG Department and FAO at large. These interventions will allow to address the role of livestock in broader development issues such as MDGs, climate change, environment, etc.
14. Managerial instruments which could be used to achieve this include shared priority setting and planning, establishment of clear performance goals and evaluation, emphasizing issue-based workgroups and teams, de-emphasizing present disciplinary groups, recruitment of staff with the requisite technical and social skills for the future work-modality, establishment of clear feedback mechanisms such as 360o reviews of senior staff in the division. Over time the aim should be to establish fewer, larger technical units/groups with broader remits to increase flexibility to adjust to evolving needs.
15. The Panel in principle agrees with the recommendations of the Synthesis Report, although the following observations have been made, some of which may need further consideration.
16. The Animal Genetic Resources (AnGR) work to produce a State of World Report (SoW) involving 145 countries has brought about a visibility of livestock production issues in general to a much higher degree than previously at governmental level in many countries. This contributes to momentum for action on a broad range of livestock development issues. Taking advantage of this momentum, the next phase of the plan to manage AnGR must clearly emphasize the utilization aspects. Sustainable utilization must be given a dynamic dimension and include application of both short- and long-term aspects of genetic improvement. Conservation of AnGR should primarily be done by constantly keeping the animal populations commercially viable. The Panel supports the immediate start of the “utilization phase”. This should be clearly reflected within the future AGA programme planning and calls for close collaboration between the relevant areas of competence.
17. Placing an appropriate livestock expert, familiar with the utilization aspects of AnGR, within the CGRFA Secretariat is a necessity if the Secretariat is going to do what is expected in the livestock area. It is suggested though that this position should be jointly selected by AGA and the Secretariat.
18. The Panel notes that an important aspect of the utilization phase is that this work is going to take place mainly in the private sector, or is at least very dependent on its actions. In this context, FAO will have an important role to play in monitoring and evaluating global AnGR and in communicating results in both genetic and economic terms to governments and the private sectors involved, including IPR and CBD issues.
19. Given the scarcity of staff resources, there is a need to link field activities with normative functions for impact and visibility. The Panel agrees with the recommendation that the new strategic vision of AGA should be used as a basis for priority-setting in responding to requests from member countries, in conjunction with regional and subregional priorities emerging from consultations.
20. Production, policy and health need to be further integrated in field programme support to be more effective. This requires strong collaboration among these groups. AGA staff support to the Field Programme should contribute to the normative programme and plays an essential role in emergency operations, but TCP requests for technology transfer activities could be better handled through greater use of consultants.
21. The Panel welcomes the ongoing review of the Technical Cooperation Programme, resulting in a strategic vision for TCP work. This potentially could strengthen the implementation of the AGA vision and field work.
22. The Panel supports the recommendation to create regional “core teams” having a critical mass of expertise. This should be a priority in Asia (where it exists), Africa and Latin America. This strategy, which the Synthesis Report states can be achieved through realignment of existing decentralized staff, should not be at the expense of the headquarters staff. The Panel notes that no reference is made to Central Asia and the C0049S countries, and feels that attention should be drawn to the growing needs of this region.
23. The Panel strongly supports the progressive shift of emphasis from technical assistance to policy issues. With regard to policy advice, the comparative advantage of AGA/FAO lies in deriving this policy advice from its technical activities. In this way, AGA/FAO provides policy advice which is impartial and based on solid analysis.
24. This policy-oriented approach should be imbedded in all parts of AGA, recognizing the specific capability of AGAL which should further strengthen its work in social/economic aspects.
25. AGA should have a stronger presence and contribution in other FAO policy work reflecting the importance of the livestock sector. PPLPI should play a strong role in this regard.
26. The Panel generally supports the recommendation. It emphasises the need for AGA to be proactive, and to use the opportunity of cooperation with SPFS to develop more innovative approaches.
27. In addition to the above recommendations, the Panel would like to add the following remarks.
28. The Panel recognizes that demands for FAO work have significantly changed over time as member countries have strengthened their own capacities for technical work and the range of institutions active in the field has increased and diversified. FAO has started the transition towards more policy-oriented assistance; AGA has been in fact a leader in this transition. This implies a need for further clarification of the roles of FAO and other actors avoiding competition and enhancing coherence, coordination and complementarity between FAO/AGA and institutions such as CGIAR, other intergovernmental institutions, NARES, donor agencies, initiatives such as ALIVE, civil society organizations and the private sector. This would serve to enhance the role of the livestock sector in strategic priorities of regions and countries.
29. A “value chain” approach is necessary in order to cope with modern technological and economic developments. This issue is not directly addressed in the evaluation report. At the moment, each programme focuses mainly on production. There is a need for AGA to develop a coherent framework for value chain in livestock to guide its future activities. AGA should also be more actively engaged in the FAO activities which adopt such an approach (e.g. with ES Department).