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94. The Commission learned about the member countries' involvement and experiences with the RDES and agreed that all of these countries regarded the RDES as a useful tool in organising their data, and in sharing data both within the country and across countries, although some countries had limited data loaded in RDES.

95. The Commission was in agreement that data from other countries should be entered into RDES but understood that assistance might be required to transfer data from existing databases in some countries including Australia and the United States of America.

96. The Commission recognized the utility of RDES. The Commission was informed that eight tables on agricultural statistics on the pattern of FAOSTAT had been uploaded in the website of Indonesia but the scope and coverage of data would still be expanded. The Commission was also informed that more than one hundred sixty tables containing details of all crops were already available in the FAOSTAT.

97. The Commission recommended the enhancement of the RDES by devising a uniform format, by inclusion of subnational data, and by enabling provision for undertaking direct cross-sectional comparison for selected countries of interest. Besides enlarging the scope and type of data coverage, the Commission also recommended that RDES explore the possibility of obtaining data from non-participating countries and provide feedback on the data that all countries contribute to the RDES.

98. On the issue of participation in RDES, the all countries of the Commission expressed their willingness to participate in RDES although the Republic of Korea, had not finalized its decision on participation. The Commission was informed that Malaysia had not participated in the first two projects but would share its data in the future.

99. The Commission agreed that the focal point institutions would compile and enter the required statistical data into the RDES system; that common format data tables would be used; and that common hardware procurement and system installation would be implemented.

100. In summary, the Commission recommended the following improvements for RDES: (1) it should have a common presentation format across countries; (2) it should have a common look and feel with FAOSTAT; (3) it should have a good communication with AFSIS; (4) it should expand to include information and data about food and food security, capacity building, etc.; (5) it should be expanded to other member countries; (6) it should present data by commodity as well as by country; and, (7) the data should have varying quality across countries.

101. With regards to the Development of CountrySTAT as a vehicle for organizing national agricultural sector data, the Commission believed that such a tool would have potential benefits for their organizations.

102. The Commission recognized that the CountrySTAT was still in the early stages of development and that the pilot stage would provide more information about the system, as well as identification of areas for improvement.

103. The Commission recommended the following: (1) the definitions and classifications across countries should be standardized; (2) the countries should review existing data and should identify data gaps in preparing for the system; (3) resources would be needed in member countries to implement and maintain CountrySTAT; and, (4) if possible, CountrySTAT should be a vehicle to allow member countries to satisfy a range of international reporting requirements.

104. The Commission recognized that some of the instructions contained in the guidelines issued by international agencies for filling out certain questionnaires were vague. Accordingly, the Commission recommended that the instructions should be made simple and unambiguous to improve the consistency and completeness of responses.

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