FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific
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Collecting data critical to growing agriculture sector in Samoa

Teams discussing strategy prior to
23/07/2020 Apia, Samoa

Teams from the Samoa Bureau of Statistics (SBS) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF) have been out in rural areas interviewing farmers, livestock owners, and fishers for the Agriculture Census. The field data collection work will be completed by 1 August.

The Government of Samoa is conducting the census with full coverage of the agriculture sector. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations is providing technical assistance to support the strategic planning and implementing of Samoa’s Agriculture Census.

“People ask why we need the Agriculture Census now in Samoa,” said Eriko Hibi, FAO Sub-Regional Coordinator for the Pacific and the Representative to Samoa. The question was particularly pertinent as there are a number of surveys and assessments taking place to measure COVID impacts in the Pacific. 

A significant portion of Samoa’s population is dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods and for food security.  The Agricultural Census is the most comprehensive source of agriculture information for the country undertaken every ten years and serves as the sampling frames for other in-depth surveys and assessments.  “It provides a snapshot of the structure of the agricultural sector at a certain point of time and provides an opportunity to identify changes and trends occurring in the sector as compared to previous Agricultural Censuses. The structural information provided by the Census helps to design and understand other surveys. It is like mother ship of all surveys,” said Hibi.

Samoa, like nearly all countries the in Pacific region, has incomplete information about the agriculture sector and farmers. “Accurate data is needed to design agricultural policy and make impact assessments based on latest realities. It helps to attract investments needed to address structural impact of COVID in the country and safeguard food security of people in Samoa,” explained Hibi. 

“Census enumerators are in the field visiting each household in the country to collect data on their agricultural activities,” explained, Edith Faaola, the Assistant Chief Executive Officer for the Samoa Bureau of Statistics. “Data collection includes cropping patterns, livestock numbers, use of farm inputs, farm labour, and sales of agricultural produce. Data on fishing activities are also being collected.”

There is strong government support for the development of agricultural information. Furthermore there is interest by a wide range of users, such as business communities and researchers, to have online access to results. There have also been developments in technology since the previous censuses, especially in the use of tablets for Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI) – first time for the census in Samoa.

FAO continues to work closely with the Government of Samoa toward establishment of the agriculture statistics system providing timely, reliable and regular statistics.   


This is the fourth agricultural census in Samoa – previous agricultural censuses were conducted in 1989, 1999 and 2009. The Samoa Agricultural Census will provide data on changes in the structure of the agriculture sector over the last ten years, as well as key data to help monitor the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and ASP 2016-2020.

The budget of the FAO technical assistance to the Agricultural Census in Samoa is USD 285,000 (about 30% of the overall census budget in Samoa). FAO technical support addresses the new priorities and to improve the methodology, dissemination and ability to use the information.