7th Regional Steering Committee meeting highlights progress and achievements in Asia-Pacific

The seventh Regional Steering Committee (RSC) meeting of the Global Strategy to Improve Agricultural and Rural Statistics and the Technical Working Group (TWG) meeting on the implementation of technical assistance activities were held on 15-17 November in Bangkok (Thailand).

The meeting brought together experts, partners from the Statistical Institute for Asia and the Pacific (SIAP) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), and representatives from participating countries and the Global Office in Rome. The objective of the meeting was to review the achievements of Global Strategy and endorse the workplan and budget for the final year.

Commenting on the progress achieved by the Global Strategy in Asia-Pacific compared to other regions, Mr Christophe Duhamel, Global Coordinator, said “With only 50 per cent of the funding committed to the Global Strategy in Asia, the region has made tremendous progress, particularly in its technical assistance programme”. “The countries in the region have benefitted from the synergies and complementarities between the Global Strategy and the Regular Programme of FAO, which has a long history and experience in providing support to countries in the field of agricultural statistics” he further added.

The two-day TWG meeting was dedicated to reviewing the technical assistance programme, focusing on Strategic Plans for Agricultural and Rural Statistics (SPARS) for Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar and Sri Lanka in Asia and Fiji and Samoa in the Pacific. Praising the SPARS process, Mr Chencho Dukpa from the Government of Bhutan said, “The strategy document was thoroughly discussed among the relevant stakeholders and it is at the final stage of endorsement by our Government. The SPARS process has facilitated the creation of an independent unit in the Ministry of Agriculture of Bhutan with 9 staff members.”

Participants presented the progress made on technical assistance activities such as compilation of food balance sheets, cost of production statistics, improvement of administrative reporting systems and master sampling frame in countries that are implementing the Global Strategy.

Mr Mukesh Srivastava, Senior Statistician, FAO RAP, said, “The Global Strategy has been instrumental in catalysing the attention towards the development of agricultural statistics through SPARS. It is showing tangible results in terms of increased demand for technical assistance on cost-effective methodologies.”

The seventh Regional Steering Committee (RSC) meeting for Asia-Pacific focused on reviewing the progress and achievements of the Global Strategy and endorsed unanimously the 2018 budget and workplan. The RSC was also briefed on the development of a sub-regional plan for the Small Island Pacific countries, the Pacific Strategic Plan for Agricultural and Fisheries Statistics (P-SPAFS), which was recently endorsed by the Heads of Planning and Statistics of Pacific countries. The strategic plan will help in improving the quality and quantity of statistics in the Pacific Small Island Developing States (SIDS). Members of the RSC acknowledged the significance of the Global Strategy in the region and agreed to continue making efforts towards achieving the planned goals during last year of implementation of Phase I. They also made a case for continuing the momentum through the second phase.