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Agricultural statistics programme receives UK aid

A UK government department has contributed US$25 million to support a programme designed to enable farmers across the world to better plan their resources by allowing them access to improved statistics

The Department for International Development (DFID) signed an agreement to donate the funds to the Global Strategy to Improve Agricultural and Rural Statistics programme, which is led by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and aims to improve agricultural statistics available to both farmers and governments.

Geared primarily towards African and Asian countries, the DFID’s contribution will cover the first phase of the programme, which will last from 2012 to 2016.

“The UK Government’s generous support will help deliver enormous benefits to governments around the world and the people they serve,” said FAO director-general José Graziano da Silva.

“The programme provides an excellent example of how the FAO works with partners to translate global information into concrete results at household, community and country levels.”

The programme aims to build the capacity of developing countries to produce and use agricultural and rural statistics for more effective food security, sustainable agricultural and rural development policies.

It has an emphasis on improving how governments organise and manage their statistical systems, as well as on technical assistance and staff training in national statistics offices and ministries of agriculture.

“Empowering farmers can change their lives. By improving statistics, this programme will contribute to this goal,” da Silva noted.

The programme’s operators are hoping to improve information and statistics that enables governments to develop better agricultural policies for eradicating hunger and poverty and makes it easier to monitor changes taking place.

An FAO-supported project that brought together Ethiopia’s Ministry of Agriculture and its Central Statistical Agency (CSA) was cited by the UN organisation as a prime example of how positive changes can be supported by an upgraded statistical system.

“Previously, the national crop production estimates [in Ethiopia] differed greatly, making it difficult for policy-makers to develop sound agricultural policies or to plan food aid allocation and distribution,” remarked the FAO.

“Today, production estimates have converged and provide reliable data to underpin food security and agriculture policies.”

With a total budget of $82 million, the Global Strategy to Improve Agricultural and Rural Statistics programme is an international partnership led by the FAO and developed with the World Bank in consultation with national statistics organisations, ministries of agriculture and international agencies, which is aiming to operate in 90 developing countries by the end of the first five-year phase.