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(Item 4 of the Agenda)

72. Mr Mugututia (Samoa), reported on Technical issues for collecting food and agriculture statistics through household surveys. He said that the collection of food and agriculture statistics in a household survey has the same requirements as with any other sample survey. They include: 1) up-to-date frame; 2) clear/unambiguous concepts and definition; 3) sound sampling techniques; 4) questionnaires; and 5) manuals of instruction etc.

73. Mr Mugututia indicated that information on minor crops (rare crops) obtained from sample surveys would be less reliable because of the high standard error and that estimates of production for short-term crops can be influenced by the seasonality of the crop. He suggested that local terms for area and production would be helpful in obtaining more reliable information from the farmers and that expenses for special events such as weddings, birthdays and funerals can be high, but generally it was difficult to break down the costs into the individual items

74. In addition, he mentioned that the 2002 HIES in Samoa provided data on the value of home produced items consumed by the household based on the household’s valuation if the said goods were sold. While this provided good estimates on expenditure/income, the absence of an estimate of volume (kg, lb, sacks etc) limited its use.

75. In the discussion of Software used for processing agricultural census and survey data, special issues that should be considered in the processing of agricultural surveys and censuses were presented by FAO. Decisions on software often depended on the hardware that would be used. Issues that had to be taken into account at each of the steps in electronic processing were listed. These included whether to carry out data entry using stand-alone or networked computers; whether the editing would be done for batch or concatenated files; whether the data storage would be restricted or open access; whether tabulation would be done both for preliminary and for publication-ready stages; whether analysis would be done by preparation of graphs, charts and/or statistics; and whether the media for presentation and dissemination would be “paper” and/or electronic.

77. It was pointed out that it was important to consider existing hardware, existing capacity and experience, resources available during the census/survey, and the availability of external assistance afterward. Another important issue was long-term use of the data. It was mentioned that in the acquisition of equipment, both renting and borrowing were important options since the hardware/software might have a one-time exercise. In this respect it was necessary to balance the costs of contracting of services while retaining the confidentiality of the data. Other matters to keep in mind were the types of analysis and portability of data.

78. Characteristics of various types of software with examples were summarized for the workshop. It was stated that in the selection of appropriate software packages for censuses and surveys, the preferences of FAO were to take advantage of country skills and experience to consider sources of technical assistance; user-friendliness, portability of datasets and need for training in both development and USE; and costs of maintenance and the need for upgrading of software as operating systems and features changed.

78. Ms Siosi’ana FISI’INAUA (Tonga), summarised Tonga’s experience concerning the data processing aspects of the Agriculture Census 2001 in the paper, Tonga experience on using IMPS (inclusive of CSPRO) software. The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food (MAFF) and the Statistics Department (SD) coordinated in the conduct of the census.

79. She said that for processing of the census raw data, IMPS was used with data tabulation in CSPRO (the window version of IMPS). Computer programmes and editing screens were written to accommodate the processing of the data collection forms in terms of i) household, ii) holding and iii) parcel. Quality control was the main focus of the processing.

80. For ease of storage and retrieval of forms and for data encoding, arrangements were made for a proper storage area for the folios. The forms were bundled by folios and by form type. Files were properly labelled and divided by district and village and were kept in ascending order according to village code and block number on storage shelves. A control register was used to ensure the movements of the files of questionnaires. The working area was configured with a Local Area Network (LAN) comprising of five computers and one laser printer.

81. A strength of the software, according to Ms Fisi’inaua, was that it ensured quality control over the data flow by:

i) monitoring and recording the documents received from the fieldwork encoders;

ii) ensuring flow of data was in good standard for data cleaning;

iii) monitoring recordings of documents processed;

iv) running editing programmes needed for completeness and consistencies checks;

v) issuing documents requested by verifiers and data encoders; creating back-up copies of the data files; and

vii) allowing writing of computer language programmes to fix any discrepancies within the data.

82. She also highlighted some weaknesses in the data processing activities such as:

i) absence of qualified computer personnel in MAFF and SD with experience in IMPS or CsPRO;

ii) the switching from IMPS to CsPRO software created debugged problems;

iii) troubleshooting has to be solved by the consultant even from outside the country;

iv) cooperation of the consultant in being fully committed and focused on the results even if mission was completed;

v) over reliant on the consultant.

83. Her conclusion was that the basis for successful data processing is the completeness of the information collected from the field.

84. Two presentations were made on the topic Disseminating agriculture and survey data using Intranet and Internet. Mr Parry, Statistician (SPC) presented a session on the Pacific Regional Information SysteM (PRISM), focusing on its increasingly effective role as the definitive gateway to official data for the region. He gave a brief summary on its development, outlining its structure and main aims, including:

84. He highlighted the extent to which the system is driven by national needs and priorities, with PICTs determining the look and feel of their own website and the range of data and information which can be stored on PRISM.

85. After observing that Fiji was the only country in the Pacific that participated in the regional project funded by the Government of Japan, Mr Kimihiko EURA, Agricultural Statistics Expert, FAO Regional Project on Strengthening the Regional Data Exchange System (RDES), described its activities and objectives.

86. He noted that the project idea had originated because many governments used the traditional printed publications and that few countries had a web page for agricultural statistics. He confirmed that the purpose of the current project was to establish a system for exchanging and accessing national statistical data in electronic format through the Internet. The system design took into consideration the extent of IT use, or “e-readiness”, of the participating agencies, who were mainly the governments’ Ministry of Agriculture or Statistics departments. Indicators of e-readiness included availability and quality of computer hardware and software, affordability and quality of Internet access, skills of IT users, availability and quality of the agency web site, budget allocation for IT-related programmes and activities.

87. The workshop learned that the RDES was based on an Interactive Web-based System where a web server was not needed in each country and had several principles for development. The fundamental requirements were that only Internet access is required for the system, that any file formats could be stored (e.g. MSExcel, MSWord, PDF, etc.) and that it involved easy data management for the country focal points.

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