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II. Technical Consultation

Friday, 7 October 2005

Overview and Objectives

Agenda item 1

  1. The Technical Consultation was held after the completion of the Fourth Focal Points Meeting. The overview and objectives of the Technical Consultation were presented by Dr Frederick Baker, Senior Statistician,FAO RAP.

Estimation of Percent of Undernourished

Agenda item 2

  1. The presentation on estimating the number of undernourished was made by Mr David Dawe, Senior Food Systems Economist of FAO RAP, who emphasized that this presentation borrowed heavily from presentations made at the FAO workshop on the Measurement of Food Deprivation, held in Rome in October 2004. He defined the concept of undernourished by referring to those whose dietary energy consumption is insufficient for body weight maintenance and child growth; work performance.

  2. The FAO methodology for estimating the percentage and number of undernourished relies on data on (a) per capita dietary energy consumption, (b) distribution of food consumption and (c) per capita minimum energy requirement. He added that using lognormal distribution, two parameters were considered - average per capita food consumption and the inequality in distribution. The methodology for estimating per capita dietary energy supply (DES) was also discussed.

  3. Several problems and limitations were identified:

  4. A number of issues related to the presentation were raised. These included:

Agricultural Census Data Tabulation and Analysis

Agenda item 3

  1. The Focal Point from the Philippines, Mr Romeo Recide, delivered a presentation on agricultural census data and analysis. He reviewed the role of agriculture in the economy, the role of statistical information in the formulation of agricultural policies and programmes and discussed agricultural censuses, citing the differences between agricultural census results and sample survey results. He cited the need for more understanding and support of agricultural censuses.

  2. On account of their sizes, complete enumeration censuses of agriculture used different and less accurate data collection methods than those employed in sample enumeration and intercensal sample surveys. These differences often resulted in significant discrepancies for the same variables and items between the complete censuses and the regular sample surveys, especially in, but not limited to, countries where different agencies were responsible for these undertakings.

  3. He acknowledged that there was lack of financial support for the regular conduct of agricultural censuses; perhaps this is because the uses for current statistics are unappreciated and the role of the results of agricultural censuses in the agricultural information system is not clear.

  4. He discussed the advantages for using each type, and the methodologies as well as tools used in presenting results for the various types of surveys.

  5. Issues arising from the presentation were:

Using Statistics for Policy Work

Agenda item 4

  1. The presentation on the analysis of data in national statistics was made by Ms Nanae Yabuki of FAO RAP’s Policy Assistance Branch. The objective of this presentation was to share the policy-maker’s perspective on the kind of data needed for policy work.

  2. The discussion covered the purpose of the data used; data needed for policy work (on agricultural development/poverty reduction); methodologies; suggestions and conclusions. Policy-makers use the data for identification and monitoring of economic and social situations, policy analysis and policy formulation.

  3. Policy analysis systematically evaluates alternative means of achieving economic and social goals and considers existing or prospective policies to improve welfare; it includes a series of activities such as identification of the problem and criteria, identification and evaluation of alternative actions and recommendation of the best policy option.

  4. Policy formulation covers the provision of incentives/disincentives for a particular activity to guide the economy in the planned direction, coordination with other policies and time consistency. It also understands a “gap” between the policy goals and the current situation, identifies priority areas and policy tools, decides the sequence of policy implementation and considers the need for “accompanied policies” or a safety net.

  5. On the data needed for policy work on agricultural development and poverty reduction, the Policy Assistance Branch focuses on net real income (as a proxy for the final earnings or profit) and the rural poor, whose well-being is directly related to poverty reduction and food security. The focus on net real income is on macro, sectoral and household levels. The rural poor population is defined as net buyers of food who spend a large proportion of their income on food, with their wages as their major income source, and who are engaged in agriculture and related activities.

  6. Methodologies used are econometric analysis, statistical analysis, cost-benefit/financial analysis and other tools including cross-country and sectoral comparisons.

  7. Policy-makers need time series data, cross-country/sectoral data with consistent definitions and data conforming with international standards. Also needed are survey data or census data without sample bias.

  8. There is a need to bridge the gap between statistics and policy work. To this end, Ms Yabuki raised issues on designing statistics/surveys according to the needs of the users; policy-makers’ participation in the design/revision of the statistics/survey design; discussion of data definitions between the policy-makers and the statistics sector; and the design of statistics/surveys in line with national economic plans. She concluded that statisticians and policy-makers mutually benefit through better coordination.

  9. The participants reactions to the presentation are listed hereunder:

Agricultural Statistics’ Data Analysis for Decision-Making in Thailand

Agenda item 4, con’td

  1. The representative from Thailand presented his paper on agricultural statistics’ data analysis for decision-making in Thailand. While legally the Office of Agricultural Economics is responsible for agricultural statistics, in reality the system is decentralized, with each agency having its own statistical unit.

  2. The current statistical activities included annual production surveys (for crops, livestock and fisheries); yield surveys covering eight commodities; socio-economic surveys (every two years); production cost surveys (annually and covering 18 commodities); regular price reports; and area surveys using remote sensing, GIS and GPS.

  3. Thailand also has an agricultural commodity registration system and makes forecasts at least twice a year for 60 commodities. Information is disseminated through the Web site (, a reporting system, via a service centre and publications.

  4. Agricultural data are used as guidelines for decision-making, in development planning and for policy formulation, as well as for forecasting, monitoring and evaluation, and publication. The data required for policy formulation are domestic consumption, production areas, export markets, prices and production costs.

  5. Data analysis includes the comparison of prices and costs for the determination of necessary measurements, distribution of production to consumers, determination of the amounts of imports and exports and the amounts for processing. Examples cited were the comparison of prices and costs of pineapple for processing, maize for animal feed, Jasmine rice, longan and durian, all of which are important national export commodities.

Agricultural Production Survey and Data Analysis for Decision-Making in Japan

Agenda item 4, continued

  1. In relation to statistical surveys on agriculture, forestry and fisheries and changes in organizations, the following points were discussed: (a) the establishment, upgrading and expansion of statistics organizations under the direct jurisdiction of MAAF; and (b) the development of statistics on agriculture, forestry and fisheries since the high economic growth period. A historical review of the establishment of MAAF at the end of the Second World War, and its statistical activities which were intended to help in overcoming the food shortage and establishing a food supply and demand plan, was presented.

  2. The upgrading and expansion of agricultural statistical surveys covered the completion of the postwar democratization policy (including agricultural land reform), improvement in food supply and demand, start of farm household economic surveys and production costs, and the implementation of the 1950 World Census of Agriculture and Forestry.

  3. In the context of development of statistics on agriculture, forestry and fisheries since the start of the high economic growth period, needs for statistical surveys on agriculture diversified, there was significant progress in online statistical information processing and new policies were developed — MAAF responded through enhanced efficiency of statistical information work.

  4. Since the establishment of the basic law on food, agriculture and rural areas in 1999, there is a need to develop the management of statistical information to respond to the new framework of agriculture, forestry and fisheries. The review of statistical information on agricultural, forestry and fisheries has been ongoing since 2001, and one result is the separation of information-related organizations.

  5. The key points in the basic plan include the basic policy on measures related to food, agriculture and rural areas, great concern over food safety and wholesome diets, more diversified demands, delays in structural reforms in agriculture (for instance, the decrease in the number of farmers as a result of ageing and delays in scale expansion), expectations of multi-functionality and rural areas and advances in globalization.

  6. A new plan will be based on the following components: (a) building a policy system that is effective, efficient and easy to understand; (b) incorporating consumers’ concerns into policies; (c) encouraging farmers and local inhabitants to assert independence and creative ideas; (d) developing measures that focus on environmental conservation; and (e) development of aggressive agricultural policies based on new movements in agriculture and rural areas.

  7. The targets for food self-sufficiency and data analysis covering the trends of food self-sufficiency on a calorie basis, the characteristics of Japan’s food self-sufficiency activities, production targets and graphical cases of data analysis for the basic plan were also discussed.

Summary of the Technical Consultation and Closing

Agenda item 5

  1. The Senior Statistician noted that the trends in agriculture should be analysed, as the roles of agriculture and GDP were changing, but the way data were collected remained static.

  2. He complimented the speakers on their charts and graphs which gave an informative visual overview of the situations in different countries for effective communication to policy-makers.

  3. There is a need for the statisticians to coordinate regularly with policy-makers to discuss the use of data and the time lines for the generation of such data because policy-makers require information at specified time intervals. The importance of clarity and exactitude to minimize mismatches and information gaps was emphasized.

  4. In closing the Technical Consultation, the Senior Statistician cited the importance of the contributions of the Focal Points to food security and poverty reduction.

  5. Being his last official meeting with the Focal Points, he indicated his appreciation of their cooperation with FAO during the period of his assignment, and his hopes for improved developments in the areas of concern in statistical analysis for food security.

  6. The Consultation was adjourned at 16.30.

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