Agriculture

FAO publishes guidelines for global agricultural census

FAO has published a set of guidelines for the governments across the globe for conducting their national agricultural censuses.
FAO publishes guidelines for global agricultural census

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has published a set of guidelines for the governments across the globe for conducting their national agricultural censuses. These guidelines have been customised as per the specific needs and capacities of every country. These guidelines are upgraded and released in every 10 years.

A new global agricultural censuses is set to begin in 2016, a large-scale, data collection process that will gather information and statistics on the world’s agricultural sector.

These censuses are crucial for governments to implement evidence-based policies to foster agricultural and rural development, ensure access to land, improve food security and reduce the adverse environmental impacts of agricultural activities. Census data are also essential for the private sector to make informed decisions that guide their investments in agribusiness activities.

The information provides an accurate picture of the agricultural sector and a reliable sampling frame for current agricultural surveys. In particular, the censuses entail a complete account of the structure of the agricultural sector, including the number and size of holdings, land use, crop area, crop intensity, irrigation facilities, agricultural input use, livestock numbers, as well as farmer demographics and employment. 

Based on countries’ experiences and lessons learnt over previous decades, the new guidelines form part of the FAO coordinated World Programme for the Census of Agriculture, which covers the period 2016-2025. For the first time, the new census programme provides guidance on how to obtain and integrate data on fisheries and on greenhouse gas and ammonia emissions from agricultural activities.

"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," said Pietro Gennari, FAO Chief Statistician.

"They 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.

The new FAO guidelines advocate an intensive use of information and communication technologies in all census taking operations. In particular, the use of geo-referencing devices, including Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and Geographical Information Systems (GIS), as well as mobile phones and tablets or laptops, provide new opportunities to speed-up the process and improve data quality. Satellite images can also assist where households and land plots are clearly demarcated.

Mobile phone applications and other user-friendly dissemination tools can help to ensure broader access to census results, and therefore support informed decision-making. 

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