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(Item 9 of the Agenda)

81. The Commission learned through Document APCAS/04/12, "The Development of CountrySTAT as a Vehicle for Organizing National Agricultural Sector Data", that CountrySTAT would be a statistical information system designed to aid the policy formulators, decision-makers, researchers and other stakeholders in the process of strategic decision-making for food and agriculture policy at national level.

82. The Commission was informed that the database would include a core statistical framework covering major policy areas of agriculture: food; trade; resources and prices and that it would contribute to the national capacity building for policy analysis enabling greater efficiencies by interlinking and exchanging data between national and international statistical offices.

83. The Commission was advised that CountrySTAT would be based on the new FAOSTAT System in anticipation of the ongoing need for timely and relevant information and that with CountrySTAT there would be better access with wider coverage to relevant data for decision-making and that the national statistical agencies, international statistical offices and national policy-makers would be the immediate beneficiaries of CountrySTAT.

84. The Commission was informed that CountrySTAT deliverables would include methodological framework, user requirements, database systems, outreach to pilot countries, dissemination system and evaluation of CountrySTAT and that the demand for access to consolidated and structured statistics on food and agriculture with country-specific subject would be met.

85. In Document APCAS/04/14, "Integration of Food and Agricultural Statistics in India", the Commission noted that agencies dealing with agriculture encompassing crop production, food, livestock, fisheries, forestry and logging, were numerous, while the work involving the collection, collation, compilation and dissemination of agricultural statistics was entrusted to the Directorate of Economics and Statistics, Department of Agriculture and Cooperation.

86. It was pointed out to the Commission that the definition of "food and agricultural statistics" could be broad (including crop production, livestock, forestry, fishery, labour force in agriculture, national accounts relating to agriculture, rural development and rural income) and that the need for integration of data was of utmost importance.

87. The Commission was advised that the integration of food and agricultural statistics implied the need to consolidate and make available all interrelated data with the objective of facilitating analysis of salient trends in the economy, which had a significant bearing on food security issues as well as on overall economic and social well being.

88. The Commission learned that policy-makers required data at specified period/time points; that the statistician would strive to meet their demands with estimates and projections; and, that regular interactions with all concerned stakeholders were helpful. The Commission noted that despite frequent interaction between policy-makers and statisticians, mismatches in understanding might exist, resulting in mismatches in supply-demand gaps. Thus, the Commission agreed that integration by a system such as CountrySTAT could bridge the supply-demand gaps and mismatches in statistics.

89. The Commission was informed through APCAS/04/INF6, "Strengthening Agriculture Statistics System in India", that the National Informatics Centre (NIC) in association with the Directorate of Marketing and Inspection (DMI) under the Ministry of Agriculture, had put in place a unique scheme called Agriculture Marketing Information System Network (AGMARKNET) with an objective to link all agricultural produce markets in India with State Agricultural Marketing Boards and Directorates to enable an effective exchange of information. The Commission was advised of the highlights of the development and utilization of AGMARKNET in various countries all over the world and of the vital contribution of the NIC in the field of agriculture and to the empowerment of Indian farmers.

90. The Commission learned through Document APCAS/04/13, "Role of Agricultural Statistics in the National Statistical System of Bhutan", that some issues related to the linkages and interactions between the various stakeholders in Bhutan involved generation and effective utilization of agricultural statistics and that lack of true and consistent population figures in this country often led to difficulties in estimation of population-related statistics in the country. The Commission was informed that the population and housing census in Bhutan would be conducted for the first time in 2005 with the hope that its results would benefit the conduct of the agriculture census in the frame preparation.

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