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Apr 4, 2012

UK's DFID Supports FAO's Improving Global Agricultural Statistics With US$25M

Using computers to collect,
monitor and disseminate agricultural
data in the field.
Photo: FAO
In April 2012, the United Kingdom's Department of International Development Fund (DFID) donated £16M ($25M) to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to support "Global Strategy to Improve Agricultural and Rural Statistics."  This program has been developed to help developing countries gather and use statistics as part of their sustainable food production.

The FAO's "Global Strategy to Improve Agricultural and Rural Statistics" was developed with assistance from the World Bank.  National statistics organizations, ministries of agriculture and international agencies were consulted in structuring the program.  It has been unanimously endorsed by the United Nations Statistical Commission. The goal is to extend the program to 90 developing countries and to have it funded with a total budget of $82 million.

The DFID's donation will fund the first phase of the program, which extends from 2012-2016.  These funds will be targeted at certain African and Asian governments.  Funds will be used to purchase digital services including the use of smart-phones, GPS and satellites. They will also be used to provide technical training and equipment purchases for national statistics offices and ministries of agriculture.  The goal is better collection and management of statistical systems so this information can be used for accurate planning as well as identifying innovative uses to promote sustainability.

According to the FAO, the current manner in which developing countries collect data is costly, labor-intensive, and often unreliable.  This new program is aimed at changing that trend.  As FAO Director-General José Graciano da Silva notes, "the program [will] provide an example of how the FAO works with farmers to translate global information into concrete results at household, community and country levels."  The FAO's goals is to provide accurate agricultural statistics that will allow national governments to beter plan for the eradication of hunger and poverty.

Ethiopia serves as an example of how agricultural statistics can be improved.  National crop production estimates of the Ministry of Agriculture and the Central Statistical Agency (CSA) often differed greatly.  The FAO worked with both, training them to use new technologies to measure crop yields, harvest results, and market prices.  Today, statistics being tracked by both are similar allowing for the better development of food security policies.

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About Margaret

CEO and Curator (The Food Museum) | Managing Director and Chief Editor (GR2 Global LLC) | Educator (UCLA PhD) | Researching and writing on global food issues, nutrition and health, sustainability, history (preservation), conservation (natural resources), and design.
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