Methodology data and limitations of current expenditure survey

The overall costs of PGRFA conservation are made up of fiscal costs and opportunity costs (see Fig. 8-2). Fiscal costs include the expenditures arising for PGRFA conservation, which have to be budgeted and invested either on the national or the international level. Fiscal costs include the costs for planning, implementing, and running ex situ and in situ conservation activities. These costs are determined by specific conservation activities, the depreciation costs of investments, and the costs of institutional and political regulations for access to PGRFA. Additionally, costs for compensation and incentives paid for maintaining PGRFA have to be included. In addition to the fiscal costs, there are also opportunity costs associated with conservation, reflecting the benefit foregone by the country by maintaining the diversity of genetic resources in the field (Chapter 6).

Different approaches may be taken in identifying the specific costs of PGRFA conservation activities. Costs can be identified at different administrative levels as well as in different categories. The latter depend on the conservation methods used: costs of in situ and ex situ conservation as well as costs for supporting activities and institutional process for the conservation of and access to PGRFA. Considering the players in the conservation activities, costs can arise at the farm level or at national and international levels as well as at the level of conservation activities in the private sector. Consequently, the method of estimating costs depends upon the approach taken.

Figure 8-2. Economic concept of the costs of PGRFA conservation Source: Virchow (1999a).

The main source of information for this study was a survey conducted in 1995/1996. Each country had established a focal point for the preparatory process of the ITC on PGRFA in 1996. These focal points were contacted for the survey. As of June 1996, 28% of all surveyed countries (39 countries) provided data that could be analyzed. Among those responding were countries thought to have substantial programs in PGRFA (inter alia, the United States, France, Germany, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, Japan, China, India, Brazil, and Ethiopia), as well as a number of countries with smaller programs. Because of a lack of information from governments, expenditures for 1995 could not be calculated precisely. National data were estimated, based on available information, in order to obtain an order-of-magnitude estimate of total expenditures at the national level.

It was apparent from the national reports submitted during the preparatory process of the ITC that the available information on the state of PGRFA in the countries and activities for their utilization is vague or even nonexistent in many countries, while few have supplied very precise figures (FAO, 1998). This applies especially to the expenditure data for PGRFA conservation and utilization. Only a few countries have explicit budget lines for these activities. Another problem is that the scope of the conservation and utilization of PGRFA is so broad that activities with other objectives may have a positive impact on the implementation of conservation activities. Consequently, even if a country has a refined cost monitoring system, the actual expenditures may be made up of allocations from different financial resources than those explicitly dedicated to the conservation and utilization of PGRFA.

The first expenditure survey revealed a number of other difficulties with collecting and processing the existing data:

• Participation of reporting: Less than 26% of countries involved in the preparatory process actually provided expenditure data.

• Partial information: Significant information was not comprehensively provided by countries, even though the expenditure data should have been known to certain agencies in the countries concerned (e.g., national contributions to multi- and bilateral activities related to the conservation and utilization of PGRFA).

• Homogeneity of reported data: The proposed reporting format was not followed; consequently, it needed interpretation skills to process the data and to harmonize the data from different sources (e.g., received data were often not disaggregated or sums were given without indicating whether they applied to conservation, utilization, or both).

• Defining the scope of activities: There was no unified definition (nor understanding) of the scope of activities related to the conservation and utilization of PGRFA, e.g., some countries included plant-breeding activities, while others only included the conservation of PGRFA in a very narrow sense. Most countries did not clearly define what was covered by expenditure or foreign assistance data. Similarly, some data on financial contributions included only activities closely related to the conservation and utilization of PGRFA. Only a few countries included in situ conservation and utilization, while others only provided data on the general national contribution to international organizations;

• Multiple-impact activities'. Projects or programs often deal with PGRFA conservation and utilization as part of a broader initiative including actions not strictly related to PGRFA. This poses the problem of having to estimate the portion of the program dealing with the conservation and utilization of PGRFA and identifying the expenditures on that portion. This, however, can only be done relatively accurately by those involved in the specific projects and programs.

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