PC 83/4 (a) - Sup.1

Programme Committee

Eighty-third Session

Rome, 8-12 May 2000

Programme Evaluation of Food and Agricultural Policy (Programme 2.2.4) 

Summary of Comments of the External Peer Reviewers 1


Extent to Which the Programme Addressed FAO's Priority Areas

1. All reviewers agree that the programme deals with important problems and issues that are within the mandate of FAO.

Focus and Coherence of the Programme

2. There was some difference of opinion in this area. One reviewer shared the Evaluation Service conclusion that the programme's overall coherence was poor and that each sub-programme functioned somewhat autonomously. This, in his opinion, may be an inevitable consequence of the size and diversity of FAO's membership - the Programme of Work has to offer something for everyone. Another reviewer felt, however, that the evaluation was overly critical about programme design since the sub-programmes had different intended audiences, noting that links of individual sub-programmes with activities outside Programme 2.2.4 may be more important.

3. Reviewers felt that the restructured Programme 2.2.4 seems to be more logical, reflecting better the rationale of relationships among sub-programmes, as well as the flow of work between them.

4. Two reviewers found that Global Perspective Studies was the most focused sub-programme but was under-resourced. One reviewer felt that the total output in commodities and trade seemed to be less than the sum of the parts. He also noted a lack of clear targeting of audiences and beneficiaries and felt that FAO should address a larger audience for policy work.

Results of the Programme

5. Reviewers agreed that AT-2010 is the kind of study that only FAO can produce. One reviewer stated that, while FAO did an admirable job of producing AT-2010, it did a much poorer job of disseminating the results. FAO tended to fall into the trap of thinking that producing a document for the Conference and having a "debate" was adequate dissemination. Another reviewer found, however, that the work is well disseminated and widely known but noted projections work can become outdated quite quickly in the light of new market, policy or technological developments. FAO might consider, in the period between publications of major editions of perspective studies, preparing regional analyses (along the lines of the European AT-2000 undertaken during the previous generation of projections).

6. Reviewers found FAO's assistance in trade matters to member countries, especially low-income, food-deficit ones, has been very useful. FAO is in a unique position to help the developing countries in achieving benefits from the agricultural trading regime, including appropriate internal reforms necessary to compete in global markets. In this regard, one reviewer felt FAO could also provide improved analytical policy tools appropriate to developing countries. Another thought FAO should expand activities linking agricultural trade with technical and scientific considerations, notably environmental and biotechnological ones. This would enhance the links between commodities-related activities and those outside the Sub-programme

7. One reviewer stated that the system of Inter-governmental Groups has been useful. However, others cautioned that servicing them not only required large amounts of time to produce documents for the meetings but the nature of the groups led to pressure to produce analyses of single-commodity markets. They felt that the IGGs should not take too large a proportion of resources so that adequate resources are available for conducting analyses of global, multi-commodity markets. A reviewer noted that the World Bank was a more ready reference source for commodity and agricultural trade information and emphasized that FAO needed to look at new ways of disseminating information and seek a wider audience than the membership of IGGs. The same reviewer felt that the evaluation on Sub-programme focused on its servicing role for the IGGs and not sufficiently on its analytical work, with which he was familiar.

8. Reviewers found that the contribution of the Committee on Food Security to the WFS and its responsibility for WFS follow-up have increased its stature with member countries. The FAO secretariat work has been a critical factor in these successes. Reviewers noted methodological difficulties with monitoring food security status on a year-to-year basis. One reviewer suggested that a relatively cost-effective way might be to identify and disseminate best practices in policies and approaches in addressing food insecurity.

Quality of the Evaluation Report

9. All reviewers were satisfied with the quality and impartiality of the evaluation. However, one reviewer would have liked better coverage of the effectiveness of collaboration in work on commodity policies and trade between the Commodity and Trade Division (ESC) and the Policy Assistance Division (TCA) and its regional branches. Another reviewer found that the evaluation had not adequately addressed the target audiences and beneficiaries for the three sub-programmes.


1  These were Mr. T. Kelley White (US Department of Agriculture), Mr. Alan Mathews (Trinity College, Dublin) and Mr. R.J. Perkins (former Director, FAO/ESC Division).