Business News of 2014-01-28

No data on agric survey in rural areas

The lack of finance is said to be affecting efforts by the government to execute an agricultural census in the rural areas of the country, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), has said.

For more than two decades, there has been no report to that effect, a situation which is said to be creating a gap in the presentation of agricultural data in the country.

According to the Minister of Agriculture, Mr Clement Kofi Humado, the agricultural census has not been carried out, which is a challenge to the country.

The issue raises questions about how planning is done in the agricultural sector of the economy.

It is, therefore, obvious that the policies and programmes drawn for the sector are not realistic and although it is not immediately clear its impact on the poor contribution of the sector to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the effect is obvious.

Agricultural Census

The lack of data came to the fore at a meeting held on agricultural data and information systems organised by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in Accra.

The meeting sought to reflect on the development of agriculture data and information systems in the country.

“The situation is affecting the presentation of data on growth of agricultural GDP, data for planning agriculture and many others,”he said.

GAPS

To strengthen the agricultural statistics system, the sector minister said the ministry conducted an improved survey known as Ghana Agricultural Production Survey (GAPS).

This was done to provide a more accurate, reliable and timely agricultural production at the district, regional and national levels for decision making.

The minister said GAPS provided a detailed coverage of agricultural production activities including vegetables, tree crops, livestock rearing and many others in 20 districts over two cropping seasons, 2011/2012 and 2012/2013.

The 20 districts included the Amansie West, Sekyere Afram Plains, Dormaa East and the Techiman Municipality.

He added that district information and communication infrastructure in the 20 districts needed to be upgraded to improve data collection and management under GAPS.

Commitment

Mr Humado said the MoFA had shown a lot of interest and commitment towards the success of the GAPS.

As part of the terms of implementing the GAPS, he said, MoFA trained 100 district agricultural statistical officers (DASO) for the GAPS in the 20 districts.

He said the officers were mandated to collect and process data from the field.

The Government Statistician, Dr Philomena Nyarko, said comprehensive information on the structure of the agricultural sector could be achieved through an agriculture census.

“Data from agriculture census will be a valuable monitoring and planning tool for the government and other development actors,” she said.

She said the agricultural census would provide an up-to date sampling frame and establish solid systems for regular production and dissemination of reliable agricultural statistics.

Way forward

Considering the impac of data in planning, there should be no excuse for government to use funding as the main reason not to have such important projects undertaken.

Agriculture is a major contributor to GDP and and it employs a chunck of the people in the country.

In the country’s quest to be come self sufficient in food production, there is the need for some of these exercises to be conducted on a reguar basis in order to provide the necessary direction as far as theh work on the ground is concerned.