The 27th session of the Asia and Pacific Commission on Agricultural Statistics (APCAS) concluded with the active participation of senior statisticians from a record number of 30 countries, including 10 Pacific Island Countries (PICs).
The theme of the session was “Developing Sustainable Statistical Systems for Monitoring Food and Agriculture”, which is also the third pillar of the Global Strategy to improve Agricultural and Rural Statistics. The meeting, held in Nadi (Fiji) on 19-23 March, presented an occasion to discuss the challenges of meeting an unprecedented data demand for monitoring Sustainable Development Goals. The objective is to achieve food security, reduce hunger, improve nutrition, build resilience for climate change adaptation, particularly in Small Island Developing States (SIDS), and improve agricultural statistics for effective policy-making.
Convened by FAO and hosted by the Government of Fiji, APCAS was held for the first time in its 50-year history in a Pacific Island country. It was attended by 87 participants, including 56 delegates from APCAS member countries, 11 observers and 13 participants from International Organizations, FAO headquarters and its Regional Office. Since the last APCAS in Bhutan, Timor-Leste joined as a member of APCAS, and Papua New Guinea and Tonga applied for membership.
Mr Mukesh Srivastava, APCAS Secretary and FAO Regional Statistician for Asia and Pacific stated that “holding APCAS in a Pacific country brings to focus the challenges faced by the statistical systems of Small Island Developing States, which suffer from a lack of methodologies customized to local conditions, shortage of skilled manpower, insufficient resources and lack of recognition of importance of timely availability of reliable statistics.”
A landmark Strategic Plan for the Pacific region, prepared jointly by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Pacific Community (SPC), was launched during the meeting. The Pacific Strategic Plan for Agricultural and Fisheries Statistics (P-SPAFS) is a 10-year plan to produce timely and reliable agricultural, fisheries and rural statistics in the Pacific SIDS. This will be achieved by strengthening the collection, dissemination and use of statistics related to food security, agriculture, fisheries and natural resources. The work was supported by a partnership between the Regional component of the Global Strategy to Improve Agricultural and Rural Statistics, implemented by FAO, and the Pacific regional programme of the SPC.
The APCAS session also reviewed the achievements of the Global Strategy in the region and advised the member countries that are yet to develop SPARS to do so, reflecting the national needs and the international requirements, particularly those related to the SDGs. Acknowledging the achievements and progress made in the provision of technical assistance, the Commission recommended continuing the efforts to build capacity in countries through the formulation of a second phase of the Global Strategy, specifically focusing on the application of the cost-effective methodologies developed under the first phase.
APCAS 27 concluded with the formation of a Working Group to address statistical challenges in the PICs, which is being supported through a catalytic regional Technical Cooperation project funded by FAO. One of responsibilities highlighted in the terms of reference of the working group is to advocate for better statistics and mobilize resources to build sustainable statistical systems in the PICs.