Expert Meetings on Three Research Themes

The Global Office of the Global Strategy hosted 3 expert meetings at FAO headquarters, on 13-17 April 2015.

The meetings were attended by experts from various national statistical offices, international organizations, development organizations, and donor organizations such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The objectives were primarily to review technical reports on proposed methods, discuss the contents of field test protocols and modalities for implementation in pilot countries. Participants engaged in pertinent and successful discussions throughout the three meetings, providing clear guidance to the research partners in reviewing and improving their proposals. The main conclusions for each research topic may be summarized as follows:

Improving Methods for Estimating Crop Area, Yield, and Production Under Mixed, Repeated, and Continuous Cropping

The participants concluded that more emphasis should be placed on measurement issues as opposed to sampling issues. Furthermore, a wide variety of country situations emerged, requiring a range of methodological options. Hence, a country typology based on current practices and available resources in the national statistical systems should be developed, so that data collection methodologies can be prioritized and tailored to each type. The Technical Report on gap analysis and the methodological recommendations, as well as the Field Test Protocol, should be organized around this typology.

Improving Methods for Estimating Post-Harvest Losses

The methodological proposal illustrated Post-Harvest Losses’ data collection methods in correspondence with all the post-harvest operations on farms, during transport and storage. The relevance of Food Supply Chain or Value Chain analyses was identified as an important preliminary step for identifying the critical points where most losses occur. The next step for the guidelines is to link these analyses to statistical sample surveys and to guide countries in how to integrate data collection methods on those points into the existing survey program so as to achieve cost-effectiveness. Pilot tests should concern the development of two-phase sample surveys using results from Food Supply Chain or Value Chain analyses as well as experimental design tests to assess the cost-efficiency of selected measurement methods. An example is the visual scale on 3 or 6 grades as opposed to 10.

Effective Use of Administrative Data to Improve Agricultural Statistics

A consensus was reached on an operational definition of administrative data for agricultural statistics, necessary for this research work. The definition also specifies what should be included. The Expert Meeting participants recommended focusing further developments on improving the main source of data in most developing countries, in particular, reporting systems from extension agents. Register systems should also be considered in countries where such systems exist. Following lessons learnt from practices in developed countries, the most relevant methods for using administrative data in agricultural statistics in developing countries were also identified. Recommendations were made on the options to be field tested, including reporting systems, use of CAPI, data from large/modern or cash crop farms, use of administrative data for small geographical area estimates, probabilistic record linkage.