New global round of ag censuses to kick offNew global round of ag censuses to kick off
November 13, 2015
A NEW global round of country-driven agricultural censuses is set to begin in 2016. This is a large-scale data collection process that will gather information and statistics on the world's agricultural sector.
To support the process, the U.N. Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) published a set of updated guidelines Nov. 3 to assist governments in carrying out their national-level agricultural censuses, tailored to the various needs and capacities of different countries. This is the latest edition of guidelines FAO provides every 10 years.
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 collected provides an accurate picture of the agriculture sector and a reliable sampling frame for current agricultural surveys. In particular, the censuses entail a complete account of the structure of the agriculture sector, including the number and size of holdings, land use, crop area, crop intensity, irrigation facilities, input use, livestock numbers, farmer demographics and employment.
Based on experiences and lessons learned over previous decades, the new guidelines form part of the FAO coordinated World Program for the Census of Agriculture, which covers the 2016-25 period. For the first time, the new census program provides guidance on how to obtain and integrate data on fisheries (capture fisheries' activities as aquaculture were already included) and on greenhouse gas and ammonia emissions from agricultural activities.
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 and geographical information systems, as well as digital devices — 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.
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