Business News of 2013-12-17

Agric census begins soon

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has supported the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) and the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) with US$370,000 to support an agricultural census that will provide data for planning in the sector.

The amount, funded by the FAO’s Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP), is expected to provide reliable data on the agricultural sector to 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).

It will support the preparatory phase of the census by putting in place relevant organs to steer the census activities, strengthening capacity, building technical and operational tools as well as preparing administratively and technically for the census.

Part of the resources will also be channelled into empowering cassava value-chain actors to enhance incomes, empowerment and food security.

Speaking at the signing ceremony in Accra, the FAO’s Country Director, Lammourdia Thiombiano, said this will contribute to government’s vision to commercialise the cassava sector through a value- chain approach and more aggressive engagement with the private sector.

The support for the census was upon a request by the MoFA and the GSS to the FAO, citing its importance in ensuring food security and the fact that the last census of agriculture was held 28 years ago in 1985.

In view of the importance of accurate and updated agricultural statistics, FAO responded to the request through its TCP facility, which helped in the development of a detailed national project document for the census with a corresponding strategy for implementation and mobilisation of financing though a stakeholder consultative process, Mr. Thiombiano said.

“We all know the importance of agricultural statistics for planning, decision making, public and private investments in the agricultural sector as an engine for inclusive growth.

“FAO will continue with its cooperation with government to improve the database on agriculture as well as support key priority areas of the Ghana-FAO Country Programme Framework drawn from the medium-term agricultural sector investment plan,” he said.

Government Statistician Dr. Philomena Nyarko said there has been a 28-year gap since the last census, instead of the recommended 10-year interval, saying previous attempts to implement the census of agriculture after the 2000 census did not materialise.

She said with support of the government and FAO, an integrated permanent system of collection and production of agricultural statistics will be implemented over a five-year period.

She said the agricultural census is very important for the provision of the requisite data for planning for the further development of the agrarian and rural economy, and for monitoring development initiatives, including those targetted at achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

She said starting from the second week of January 2014, they will inaugurate the institutional structures for implementing the census of agriculture. These will include the National Bureau of Census of Agriculture, the Technical Committee of the Census of Agriculture, the Regional Committee of the Census of Agriculture and the National Steering Committee of the Census of Agriculture.