As part of its technical assistance activities for 2017, the Global Strategy (GS) teams from Rome and Asia-Pacific, with the support of the Food Balance Sheets team of the FAO Statistics Division, organized a one-week training workshop in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on the newly developed GS guidelines and tools for compiling food balance sheets. The training, held from 31 July to 4 August in Colombo, was co-organized by Sri Lanka’s Department of Census and Statistics (DCS). It brought together about 30 members of government staff from the National Technical Working Group, which consists of representatives from a host of agencies, including the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Commerce, the Department of Agriculture/Livestock/ Fisheries and Aquaculture as well as various divisions of the Statistics Office, such as the Agriculture and Environment Division, the National Accounts Division, the Training Division and others.
For the first three days the training focused on theoretical presentations on the New Guidelines for the compilation of Food Balance Sheets including hands-on exercises using government data from 2014 and 2015. The last two days were focused on the demonstration of the new country-level FBS compilation tool , which uses the “R” open source statistics software for the data compilation and analysis, instead of the current Microsoft Excel. Mr. Anura Kumara, DCS ADG and Thana Balasingham (Senior Statistician, DCS) served as training coordinators, with the Global Strategy and the FAO FBS team providing resources and expertise. The training represented the first pilot test of the FBS toolkit with the new food balance sheet guidelines not only in the Asia Pacific region, but also at the global level.