ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMISSION FOR ASIA AND THE PACIFIC
EMERGING ISSUES AND DEVELOPMENTS AT THE REGIONAL LEVEL:
(Item 7 (a) of the provisional agenda)
REPORT ON THE REGIONAL NETWORK FOR AGRICULTURAL MACHINERY
Note by the secretariat
1. The Regional Network for Agricultural Machinery (RNAM) was established as a follow-up to studies conducted by the former Asian Industrial Development Council under the aegis of ESCAP. The studies indicated a need for regional institutional support for agricultural mechanization in Asia and the Pacific. The Commission, by resolution 156 (XXXI) of 6 March 1975, approved the establishment of an Asian centre for agricultural machinery, and the Government of the Philippines offered to host the centre and provide host facilities. Initially India, Indonesia, Iran, Pakistan, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea, Sri Lanka and Thailand participated in the project. It was joined by other countries, such as Bangladesh and Nepal in 1987, China in 1990 and Viet Nam in 1994, bringing the total to 12 participating countries.
2. Agencies and organizations such as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) have regularly provided the Network with technical inputs and expertise through their active participation in the meetings of the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) and the Governing Body. The Network is currently at a critical juncture and it is necessary to review its status and future. The most recent meetings of TAC and the Governing Body were held at Kathmandu in November 1999.
3. From 1977 to the mid-1990s, the Network provided assistance in the following areas: the development of an infrastructural mechanism for agricultural mechanization, human resources development in the exchange of information, design, prototypes of tested machines for commercialization, and establishment of joint ventures. In the later years one of the major activities undertaken by the Network was to identify and exchange information and develop agricultural machinery which could be used by women, with a view to promoting women's involvement in agriculture at the national level. The Network also implemented a project, financed by UNIDO, on developing agro-based metal industries. Non-RNAM countries, such as Bhutan, Cambodia, the Lao People's Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Samoa and Solomon Islands also benefited from that project.
4. The Network was very active during 1996 and 1997. In 1998-1999, however, it was unable to contribute as before, primarily because of insufficient institutional funding by participating countries.
5. The ESCAP secretariat has managed and provided support for the project since the end of July 1998.
6. Following the meeting of the Governing Body, held at Los Baños, Philippines in December 1998, the ESCAP secretariat presented the report of the Governing Body to the Commission at its fifty-fifth session, held from 22 to 28 April 1999.
7. The Commission was informed that the Governing Body had recommended that RNAM should do the following:
8. The Commission was also informed that the Governing Body had done the following:
9. The Commission, after careful consideration of the report of the Governing Body, decided that RNAM was serving a very useful purpose and had greatly assisted the members in developing and promoting agricultural mechanization, including the active exchange of technical information among its participating countries.
10. The Commission took note of the deliberations of the Governing Body and endorsed the report and its recommendations. It directed the secretariat to continue seeking extrabudgetary assistance for the approved activities of RNAM for 1999-2001. It urged the donor countries, and others in a position to do so, to provide programme support for RNAM projects.
11. In endorsing the work programme of RNAM, the Commission welcomed the expansion of RNAM activities in human resources development in post-harvest technologies, especially in the areas of food, fruit and vegetable processing and preservation. It recommended that RNAM should initiate activities to promote better conditions for working rural women who were affected by agricultural mechanization. It was emphasized that entrepreneurship development activities should be promoted for such women.
12. As decided by the Commission, ESCAP initiated discussions with the Government of the Philippines on hosting the Regional Office in Los Baños. The Government of the Philippines had conveyed its agreement to host the Network. However, it had also expressed its inability to provide the cost of the project manager. The secretariat was negotiating with various governments to obtain a project manager on a non-reimbursable loan (NRL) basis. The efforts had yet to bear fruit. Some of the member countries of ESCAP were considering the matter. In the meantime, ESCAP was continuing efforts to secure programme funds for RNAM. Most of the donor countries had indicated a willingness to provide programme funds when there was a more permanent solution to the institutional costs of the Network. In that context, the ESCAP secretariat was in contact with the Government of China concerning the possibility that the Chinese Academy for Engineering Sciences might host the Regional Office of the Network. Recent communications had indicated that consideration was being given to the proposal within relevant government agencies and the results were encouraging. Therefore, negotiation with the Chinese Government on hosting RNAM under the name Regional Network for Agricultural Engineering and Machinery (RNAEM), as recommended by the Governing Body, would continue.
13. In the meantime RNAM, with generous assistance from the Government of the Republic of Korea and host facilities provided by the National Agricultural Mechanization Research Institute (NAMRI), organized the Regional Workshop on Mechanization of Rice Transplanting and Seeding, which was held in Suwon, Republic of Korea from 12 to 18 May 1999. All members except Pakistan participated in the Workshop.
14. Participants in the Workshop discussed various aspects of rice transplanting and seeding that were prevalent in the Republic of Korea. Detailed information was provided by experts from the Rural Development Administration and NAMRI; extensive discussions on various aspects of seeding and transplanting were held, which provided insight into mechanisms, processes and operations that could be adapted for use in other member countries. Practical demonstrations were also held. Hands-on demonstrations were provided of the system of testing and evaluating seeding and transplanting machinery. Participants were provided the opportunity to operate the four-wheel rider type rice transplanter in a field prepared for the purpose at the NAMRI research facilities. During the Workshop, study visits were arranged to several private sector manufacturers that produced agricultural machinery which might be of interest to the participating member countries. A study visit was also arranged to a provincial extension centre to observe the facilities for farmers. It was noted that the provincial office provided a complete package of assistance and backstopping by the central offices for higher technical assistance.
15. The RNAM Regional Office was also involved in the organization of the International Symposium and Exhibition on Fruit and Vegetable Processing Technology and Industrialization, held in Yantai, China in October 1999. The event was organized by ESCAP, the Chinese Academy of Engineering, Shandong Provincial People's Government and the Yantai Municipal Government of Shadong Province. A presentation was given on RNAM at the Symposium and a booth on RNAM was included in the Exhibition. Participants in the Symposium focused on future actions to promote fruit and vegetable processing technology dissemination and industrialization, regional cooperation, and the role of international organizations like ESCAP or RNAM and the Asian and Pacific Centre for Transfer of Technology (APCTT). It was recommended that (a) a similar event be arranged in 2000, (b) study tours be organized and a pilot or demonstration scheme initiated, and (c) the establishment of specialized entities in the fruit and vegetable production areas should be promoted.
16. Specific recommendations for RNAM and APCTT were as follows:
17. In view of the successful conclusion of the Symposium and Exhibition, RNAM was requested to assist in the follow-up event for RNAM member countries.
18. The principal policy organization, the Governing Body of RNAM, met in Kathmandu in November 1999 and considered various aspects of sustaining the Network. The report of the Governing Body is provided in the annex to the present report. The Governing Body made recommendations, including that the name of the Network be changed to Regional Network for Agricultural Engineering and Machinery in order to broaden the scope of activities and allow for the participation of organizations and institutes related to engineering.
19. The Commission may wish to note that member countries had reiterated their commitment to the activities of RNAM and requested that exchange of information and advisory services be continued. In view of the shortage of institutional funds, such assistance should be provided by hiring short-term consultants. The possibility should also be explored of securing the services of experts for short- or long-term appointments on a non-reimbursable loan basis.
20. In view of the continued discussions and dialogue with the Government of the Philippines on hosting a workable and efficient Regional Office in Los Baños, the full implications of hosting a United Nations regional project should be discussed with that government.
21. The Commission may also note the discussions with the Government of China concerning the hosting of RNAM in China by the Chinese Academy of Engineering Sciences. The outcome of consultations with relevant organizations in China were encouraging.
22. The current functions of RNAM should be maintained at ESCAP headquarters until permanent arrangements were made.
23. The Governing Body had recommended that the Regional Network for Agricultural Machinery be renamed the Regional Network for Agricultural Engineering and Machinery to reflect the expansion of the scope of the Network, and to open avenues for the participation in the Network of engineering institutions.
24. The Commission, while taking into consideration the past successes achieved by RNAM and the resolve of the member countries, expressed at the recent meeting of the Governing Body, to cooperate fully in RNAM activities, may wish to endorse the report of the Governing Body and decide to continue and strengthen the functioning of the RNAM (RNAEM) Regional Office and, through its efforts, provide the needed assistance to member countries.
25. The Commission may also wish to decide that the expansion of the scope of RNAM activities should be worked out in consultation with the national focal points for purposes of cooperation and coordination. Contributions towards the institutional costs of the Regional Office should also be worked out with national focal points since in different countries the post-harvest and food-processing sectors could be handled by organizations other than the focal point for the Network activities. The Network focal point at the country level should assist the Network in that endeavour.
26. The Commission may wish to consider the financial difficulty faced by RNAM, especially with regard to institutional costs, and to suggest measures to alleviate the difficulty. It may also wish to urge the participating member countries to pay in full and on time the minimum contribution required for the Regional Office. It may also like to impress upon the more advanced countries of the region the need to provide the Network with the services of long- and short-term experts.
27. The Commission may wish to note the offer of the Philippines to consider hosting the Regional Office and to direct the secretariat to conduct discussions on all the implications of hosting a United Nations regional project. It may also wish to take note of the discussion with the Government of China on hosting the Network.
28. The name of the Network should be changed to Regional Network for Agricultural Engineering and Machinery with a view to expanding the scope and membership of the Network.
29. Member countries should be urged to consider hosting the Network as well as providing a full-time project manager.
30. The Commission may wish to express its appreciation of the contributions and assistance provided by donors such as China, Japan, the Netherlands and the Republic of Korea in the implementation of the programme activities of RNAM.
31. The Commission may consider the above issues and recommendations and advise the secretariat on the activities to be undertaken.
REPORT OF THE GOVERNING BODY OF THE REGIONAL NETWORK FOR AGRICULTURAL MACHINERY ON ITS NINETEENTH SESSION,
Kathmandu, 17 and 18 November 1999
I. RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE GOVERNING BODY FOR CONSIDERATION AND ADOPTION BY THE COMMISSION
The Governing Body recommended that the Regional Network for Agricultural Machinery (RNAM) should do the following:
II. SUMMARY OF DELIBERATIONS
(Agenda items 4 and 5)
1. The Governing Body had before it documents on (a) activities of RNAM during 1999; (b) proposed work programme of RNAM; and (c) recommendations of the Technical Advisory Committee of RNAM on its twentieth session, held at Kathmandu on 16 November 1999.
2. The representatives of ESCAP welcomed the members of the Governing Body and delivered the message of the Executive Secretary of ESCAP.
3. The Governing Body took note that the meeting was taking place at a time when it was crucial to consider the status and future of RNAM. The Governing Body took note of the message of the Executive Secretary and agreed that RNAM was a unique project where even designs and prototypes of agricultural machinery were exchanged without the cost of patents and royalties and so on. The Governing Body was pleased to note that at various meetings the Commission had expressed appreciation of the work undertaken by the Network and the need to continue the activities undertaken by it.
4. The Governing Body, after careful consideration of the recommendations, endorsed them for implementation. While endorsing the report of the Governing Body, it recalled the most useful work undertaken by RNAM in the past years and strongly urged ESCAP, participating member countries and donors to undertake all necessary actions to continue and strengthen RNAM. It also agreed to expand RNAM activities into the post-harvest and processing technologies. In that context, it directed the Regional Office to seek resources to publicize its activities in that area. However, it cautioned that major priority should be given to the eight activities included in the project document submitted for the seventh phase.
5. The Governing Body endorsed the following as objectives of RNAM (RNAEM) in providing assistance to participating member countries:
6. The Governing Body took note of the serious shortage of institutional and programme funds for RNAM and shared the view that participating member countries should provide the minimum required level of contribution for the institutional cost. It requested donors and other organizations to consider providing programme funds for the very useful activities being carried out by the Regional Network.
7. The Governing Body deliberated extensively on the usefulness of the project activities and concluded that all the participating member countries had benefited from the programmes initiated by the Network and those activities should be continued. The Network should expand activities in the areas of post-harvest and food-processing technologies.
8. The national institutes should expand activities to solicit the cooperation of private sector organizations and individuals in participating and promoting Network related activities, especially in the areas of commercialization of modified and proven prototypes or other machinery and implements. The private sector should participate in activities through the Regional Network; the national institutes should coordinate such activities to derive better results at the local level. In that context, the Governing Body welcomed the request of the Nepalese Society of Agricultural Engineers (NSAE) to become a dues paying associate member. The Governing Body agreed with the recommendation of TAC to accept the request. It requested other national institutes to seek similar collaboration.
9. The Governing Body thanked TAC for its useful work and its recommendations, which had made it easy for the Governing Body to reach its own decisions and make recommendations for the Commission to consider and decide upon.
10. TAC, after careful consideration, had recommended to the Governing Body that the name of Regional Network for Agricultural Machinery could be changed to Regional Network for Agricultural Engineering and Machinery (RNAEM) to allow engineering associations and organizations to participate in the Network and share resource inputs. In the interest of the sustainability and expansion of its scope of the work, the Network no longer should be catering for agricultural machinery at the pre-harvest areas only, but for the post-harvest area where more engineering and technology aspects were involved. To accommodate such requirements, the Governing Body in the hope of receiving more resources including the hosting of the Network decided to recommend to the Commission that the name of the Network should be changed to Regional Network for Agricultural Engineering and Machinery.
11. The Governing Body did the following:
12 The Governing Body thanked His Excellency Mr Prithivi Raj Ligal, Vice Chairman, National Planning Commission, Nepal, for taking the time to open the session and for his keynote address, which had set the tone of the meetings. It also expressed its gratitude for the excellent host facilities and other logistic arrangements provided by the Government of Nepal, Agricultural Engineering Division of the Nepal Agricultural Research Council.
13 The Governing Body expressed appreciation of the offer of the National Institute of India to explore the possibility of hosting the next session of the Governing Body around November/December 2000 in India, as provisionally announced during the fifty-fifth session of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific in April 1999.
14 The Governing Body adopted its report on 18 November 1999.
III. ORGANIZATION OF THE SESSION
A. OPENING OF THE SESSION
15 The nineteenth session of the Governing Body of RNAM was held on 17 and 18 November 1999 in Kathmandu.
16 In his opening remarks, His Excellency Mr Prithi Raj Liya, Vice Chairman, Network Planning Commission, stated that in the process of commercializing agriculture in Nepal, mechanization was a reality more than an option. The focus for mechanization for developing countries like Nepal should be on smaller and more economical machinery. In many cases even modified and simplified implements could assist farmers in cutting costs and improving income levels. It could also assist in processing quality especially in the fruit and vegetable sectors. He further stated that resources were limited and therefore work should be prioritized to increase the potential for cooperation, and the mutual exchange of information and technology.
17 In his message the Executive Secretary stated that RNAM had been providing useful and unique services to the participating countries, especially in areas of development of infrastructure for agricultural mechanization, training local individuals, including women in policy and strategy formulation, machinery design and testing and extension services, assisting local manufacturers through exhibitors and meetings for possible collaboration. The Network had provided the form for free exchange of information and designs and prototypes, with little catalytic assistance.
18 The Network had been faced with a serious shortage of institutional funds and a permanent solution to the sustainability of the Network was possible only if member countries provided the Network with adequate institutional support.
19 The session was attended by representatives of China, Indonesia, Islamic Republic of Iran, Nepal, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Viet Nam.
C. ELECTION OF OFFICERS
20 The Governing Body elected Mr T.P. Pokhral (Nepal) Chairman for the session.
21 The Governing Body adopted the following agenda: