African countries step up focus on statistics for better agriculture and nutrition

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FAO experts and information technology platforms help countries to gather, analyze and share agricultural and food security data (FAO@PHOTO)

Improving the quality, availability and relevance of data on food and agriculture has become a key priority as Africa strives to develop more effective policies to tackle its persistent food security problems.

The issue took centre stage as an unprecedented number of experts from 35 countries met for the 23rd session of the African Commission on Agricultural Statistics (AFCAS), an FAO statutory body.

About 100 senior statistics officials were set to discuss country experiences with the World Programme for the Census of Agriculture and the rollout of the Global Strategy to Improve Rural and Agricultural Statistics.

They also planned to look at advances in gathering environmental, economic and food security statistics on issues like greenhouse gas emissions, agricultural investments, livestock, and sex disaggregated – or gender related – data for land ownership.

Reliable statistics are vital in tracking both country needs and achievements. For instance, accurate government expenditure data are needed to track country commitments to spend at least 10 percent of total expenditures on agriculture, in keeping with the Maputo Declaration of 2003.

Statistics on government spending show that, so far, only Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Malawi, Mali, Niger and Senegal have met or exceeded the Maputo target.

Deputy Director of the FAO Statistics Division  Josef Schmidhuber said “We need timely, accurate, and reliable statistics to give us a better picture of how agriculture and food security are affected by, and how they impact, economic, environmental and social factors. Ultimately, this kind of information can be used by decision makers to develop policies, programs and investments that improve people’s lives.”

Donn Bobb, United Nations.

Duration: 1’37″

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