On April 3-5, 2017, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO UN), in collaboration with the Global Strategy to Improve Agricultural and Rural Statistics (GSARS), successfully organized an expert meeting on SDG Indicator 2.4.1, which is the percentage of agricultural area under productive and sustainable agriculture.
Farm typology is a concept used to classify agricultural holdings by multiple dimensions. It covers all farms, including the small units that produce mainly for own-consumption and regardless of the legal status of the holder.
With an overarching aim of strengthening the quantity and quality of professionals and experts in agricultural statistics in Africa, the training component of the Global Strategy to improve Agricultural and Rural Statistics strives to guarantee the availability of demand based and focused training options across the continent.
Post-harvest losses and food losses in general are one of the priority topics of the international agenda, as illustrated by the Sustainable Development Goals framework and several regional initiatives. The Malabo declaration (2014) states that Africa needs to halve its post-harvest losses by 2025. Research activities are currently being undertaken by the Global Office to provide recommendations on measurement methods for post-harvest losses. Malawi has been involved in these discussions and research activities since 2015 and has showed interest in receiving technical assistance to improve its existing measurement framework.
In this context, the Global Office organized a mission on 10-15 March 2017 in Malawi to discuss a potential program of technical assistance on the measurement of post-harvest losses with officers from the Ministry of Agriculture, the National Statistical Office and Bvumbwe Agricultural Research Station. Among the activities that were agreed upon, the provision of a data analysis tool to facilitate the compilation of post-harvest loss estimates from the existing post-harvest loss survey was identified by country officers as a priority as well as the review of the sampling design.
The Global Office will also assist Malawi in developing a strategy to provide more accurate estimates of post-harvest losses by designing questionnaires for the purpose and expanding the scope to other important commodities. These would constitute significant improvements as the current survey is only carried out every 4 years and limited to maize.
Improving statistics on agricultural cost of production is one of the priorities of African countries, which requested assistance on this topic in several regional and international meetings. As a response, the Global Office published Guidelines on the collection and compilation of agricultural cost of production statistics in 2016 and the African Development Bank organized two regional seminars the same year, where countries specified their technical assistance needs on this topic.
In order to kick-start country-specific activities, the Global Office organized a meeting with officers from Zambia’s Central Statistical Office, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries in Lusaka on 6-7 March 2017. The output of these discussions was a detailed technical assistance program on agricultural cost of production, to be implemented from April to September 2017.
Activities will include: improving Zambia’s agricultural survey in order to better measure agricultural costs of production, pilot-testing the new proposed survey modules and the delivery of a data compilation tool developed by the Global Office for Zambia to facilitate the compilation of indicators directly from survey data. At its request, the Global Office will also assist in expanding the country’s data collection on costs of production to additional crops, and in improving the coverage of livestock products.
The Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), conducted a nationally representative private grain stocks survey, financially and technically supported by the Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS) project. . The data collection was carried out between 3 and7 March 2017 and the results of the survey are expected to be released towards the end of April. The survey aims to collect data on stocks for rice, wheat and maize from 8,000 sampled households and 300 millers.
Prior to launching the field data collection, two levels of training were conducted, for master trainers and field enumerators. In particular, the training of master trainers was inaugurated in the presence of higher officials from the Government including the Director General of BBS as well as the FAO representative for Bangladesh. During their speech, the officials stressed the importance of conducting this private food grain stock survey. Almost all the speakers appreciated the support provided by AMIS and pointed out that this survey, which is the first in its kind in Bangladesh, will provide good grounds for BBS to include the stock survey in its regular survey program.
Experts from FAO headquarters, the FAO country office and BBS supervised the data collection in selected districts during the first two days. This provided the opportunity to point out important areas that need more emphasis, and suggestions were made to improve the data collection exercise.
Guidelines for designing and implementing grain stock surveys were recently published by the capacity-building component of the AMIS project in collaboration with FAO. These guidelines were prepared on the basis of assessments of the methods currently used by countries to produce data on stocks, and provide examples and tools for countries wishing to develop their own stock survey programmes.
From 27 February to 3 March, over twenty trainers and technical assistance providers from various capacity-building organizations in Africa and Asia-Pacific participated in a workshop for training of trainers on the improved methodology to compile Food Balance Sheets (FBS).
In the margins of the Global Strategy to improve Agricultural and Rural Statistics, the African Development Bank (AfDB) in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Equipment of Senegal organized an important conference on ‘Sustaining the Development of Agricultural Statistics through National Policies’.
A technical workshop on Productivity and Efficiency Measurement in Agriculture was organized on the 6th and 7th of December 2016, at the headquarters of the Economics Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA/ERS), in Washington D.C.