Bhutan hosted 26th session of APCAS

APCAS 26 delegates with the Hon'ble Agriculture and Forests Minister, Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji
APCAS 26 delegates with the Hon’ble Agriculture and Forests Minister, Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji

15-19 Feb 2016, Le Meridien, Thimphu: That the 57% of global population lives in Asia and Pacific region and the 62% of the world’s under-nourished is in the same region, meeting future food security is deemed critical. This is best done through obtaining more accurate agricultural statistics for taking informed decisions.

Hence, delegates from 20 member states of Asia Pacific Commission on Agricultural Statistics (APCAS) met at Thimphu to review the region’s preparedness in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. The five-day meeting deliberated on the challenges of meeting the information needs of the agriculture sector to better monitor and respond to patterns of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition while highlighting new methodologies and initiatives that will help them achieve SDGs.

Gracing the inaugural ceremony, Hon’ble Agriculture and Forest Minister, Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji while welcoming the esteemed delegates, informed that in Bhutan, National Statistical Bureau (NSB) gather and releases regular information on national statistics. Further, he also informed that the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests has adopted a decentralized statistical structure. “We have statistical program administered and operated by various departments with the statistical coordination section, Policy and Planning Division (PPD) spearheading the overall coordination of agricultural statistical information system in the Ministry,” said Lyonpo.

UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) together with other partners initiated an ambitious five-year programme called Global Strategy to Improve Agricultural and Rural Statistics (GSARS) to empower developing countries to produce better agricultural and rural statistics for effective policy making and improving lives. Bhutan’s version of the Strategic Plan for Agricultural and Rural Statistics (SPARS) called the Strategic Plan for Renewable Natural Resources Statistics (SPRNRS) was drafted recently with FAO’s help and will be launched in two months’ time.

MoAF’s Offtg Secretary, Chencho Norbu said that Bhutan being mountainous country, the terrain continues to pose huge challenges in effective and timely data collection. “Ins-pite of our best efforts to streamline data collection, analysis and use for informed policy decisions, there are still huge barriers to overcome as long-term systematic strengthening is often times side-tracked when quick fixes take priority in response to addressing immediate data gap issues,” said the Offtg. Secretary.

Speaking at the inaugural ceremony, APCAS Secretary, Mukesh Srivastava said, “Agricultural statistics are vital for monitoring progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals.”

The meeting deliberated on FAO’s activities in food and agricultural statistics in Asia and the Pacific, and a follow-up to the recommendations from the last session, assessment of progress in the implementation of ongoing capacity building activities in the region, progress on Regional Action Plan of Global Strategy to Improve Agricultural and Rural Statistics, Agricultural Marketing Information System and related issues, promoting technical cooperation in the field of agricultural statistics to build country capacities in addition to several other presentations from member states.

PPD’s Chief Planning Officer, Kencho Thinley presented on SPRNRS for obtaining feedbacks before it is launched.

APCAS is a statutory body of FAO with a mandate to review the state of food and agricultural statistics in the Asia and the Pacific region and advise member countries on their development and standardization within the general framework of FAO’s statistics works.

Asia-Pacific countries such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Fiji, Georgia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Maldives, Myanmar, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Sri Lanka and Vietnam are currently participating in the Global Strategy to Improve Agricultural and Rural Statistics.

A five-day meeting held from 15 February 2016 at Le Meridien Hotel in Thimphu concluded today.

Reported by: Ugyen Tshering, ICS

Photo: Choidup Zangpo, ICS

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