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Agriculture censuses help to boost rural development and improve food security
A round of country-driven agricultural censuses will begin in 2016 that will gather information and statistics on the global agriculture sector.
Towards this end, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has published a set of guidelines to assist governments in carrying out their censuses. This is the latest edition of the guidelines which FAO provides every 10 years.
“The use of these guidelines by FAO member countries ensures that census results are harmonised and internationally comparable, and allows countries to benchmark their performance against others,” Pietro Gennari, the FAO chief statistician, said.
Importance of censuses
Agriculture censuses are crucial for governments. These help in implementing evidence-based policies to foster agricultural and rural development, ensure access to land, improve food security and reduce adverse environmental impacts on farm activities.
Census data also help the private sector to take decisions so that they can make judicious investments in agri-business activities.
The information collected from censuses provides an accurate picture of the agricultural sector. Censuses also give a complete account of the structure of the agricultural sector, land use, crop area, crop intensity, irrigation facilities, agricultural inputs use, livestock numbers, farmer demographics and employment.
The guidelines form a part of the FAO coordinated World Programme for the Census of Agriculture which covers the period from 2016 to 2025.
For the first time, the census programme provides guidelines on how to obtain and integrate data on fisheries and on greenhouse gas and ammonia emissions from agricultural activities.
“They (the guidelines) address the requirements of both developed and developing countries, and provide the foundation for the development of an integrated census and survey programme, for using innovative methods and tools for data collection, and ultimately, for making better informed strategic decisions,” Gennari added.
Technology in agriculture
The guidelines emphasize on the use of information and communication technologies in census operations. The use of Global Positioning Systems, Geographical Information Systems, mobile phones and tablets or laptops can provide new opportunities to speed up the process and improve the quality of data.
Satellite images can assist where households and land plots are clearly demarcated. Mobile phone applications can help in ensuring broader access to census results.
During 2006-2015, 135 countries conducted agricultural censuses.
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