The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) is supporting Ghana through the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) to implement an agricultural census in 2016, Mr Kofi Humado, Minister of Food and Agriculture has stated.

Mr Humado said FAO, the Ministry and the GSS signed the agreement in 2013. The project is being funded by the FAO?s Technical Cooperation Programme, to provide reliable data on the agricultural sector.

He said the agreement would enable the ministry to plan and implement priority policies and programmes for the achievement of the country?s Food and Agriculture Sector Development Policy (FASDEP11).

The Minister said this on Friday in Accra at an event on the reflection on Agriculture Data and Information Systems in the country.

He said statistics provide quantitative and qualitative information on all major areas of citizens? lives, such as agriculture, economy, and social development and those statistical indicators provide an overview of the social, demographics and economic structure of society.

Mr Humado noted that the Economic Research and Planning Service?s agricultural statistic gathering has evolved through structural transformation into present structure of the Statistics Research and Information Directorate (SRID) of the Ministry.

He said SRID?s mandate is to collect, analyse and disseminate agricultural information to support public, private and other stakeholders of the agricultural sector for decision making process in the country.

Mr Humado said a report on the global strategy to improve agricultural statistics by FAO in 2009, revealed a deficiency in agricultural statistics and attributed the challenges and gaps to persistent financial constraints.

He said SRID has coordinated the organisation of a Multi-Round Annual Crop and Livestock Survey (MRACLS) in 2002 to collect, analyze and disseminate statistical information on crop yields, area under cultivation and production estimates from major crops in some districts across the country.

He said series of consultations with stakeholders led to the development of the enhanced MRACLS known as the Ghana Agricultural Production Survey (GAPS).

The Minister launched the SRID websites portal as sridagristat.gov.gh to help improve agricultural statistics for policy makers and improve its legal frameworks.

Dr Philomena Nyarko, Government Statistician said the agricultural census is necessary because it would provide the average income of the agricultural workforce, the percentage of the national budget of agriculture and the input costs of agricultural production.

Dr Nyarko said the objective of the Agricultural Census is to provide reliable, relevant and timely agricultural statistics to support the formulation and implementation of policies and strategies to stimulate growth.

Mr Godsway Banini said the GAPS was piloted in 2011 major season and 2012 minor season in 20 districts, and that, in 2013 minor season, it was scaled-up to 60 districts with support from USAID.

Mr Banini said administrative arrangement made to promote successful GAPS includes training of field enumerators, sensitization of districts directors of agriculture, establishment of steering committee and regular meetings.

He enumerated human resource problems, increasing costs for acquisition of data, increasing needs for accuracy of results and strong competition for the funding required for developing reliable agricultural data and information systems as some of the challenges to SRID.

Source: GNA

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