FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia

Statisticians of the region armed for new round of agricultural censuses

The current 10-year round of agricultural censuses has just begun and interest is higher than ever. Countries in Europe and Central Asia will benefit from the hands-on guidance they received at a recent week-long regional roundtable in Budapest, organized by FAO.

The session covered technical and methodological aspects of conducting a census, and new technologies for capturing and compiling data. Presentations by national statisticians from 20 countries across the region complemented topics presented by FAO experts.

Hard copies of the latest World Programme for the Census of Agriculture 2020 publication, released by FAO in 2015, were distributed to participants.

Each presentation was followed by lively discussion, as country representatives benefitted from listening to one another’s experiences with different census questionnaires and methodologies.

FAO experts sent out a clear message: an agricultural census should meet national requirements, should be based on wide consultation with users, and should not be “overburdened.” This means avoiding any unjustified duplication of data collection – for example from current statistical surveys, from administrative data sources, and from the census itself.

A census should be kept simple and focus on what it has been developed for – obtaining structural data on the agriculture sector (such as the number and size of agricultural holdings, crop area).

For this reason the World Programme for the Census of Agriculture recommends 23 essential items to be collected that also allow for international comparison.

Country participants agreed on the critical importance of good communication and publicity campaigns, as well as ample dissemination of census results. Results should be made visible and understandable for everyone – from decision-makers to the general public. Only when users recognize the utility of the census will they support the allocation of appropriate funding for census activities.

This is even more important as national budgets tighten but demand for census data increases. The new programme guidelines were developed with this in mind. A modular approach, promoted since the previous census round, and other techniques can make census operations more cost-efficient.

The World Programme guidelines available so far, also known as volume 1, discuss the programme, methodologies, concepts and definitions. Volume 2, expected by the end of 2017, will cover operational aspects of census implementation in the field.

The current round, referred to as the 2020 round, covers the period from 2016 to 2025. Countries intending to conduct agricultural censuses in this round include: Albania (2022), Armenia (2024), Azerbaijan (2025), Belarus (2019), Georgia (2024), Hungary (2020), Israel (2018), Kyrgyzstan (2018), Moldova (2022), Serbia (2021), and Turkey (2020). The Russian Federation completed its latest agricultural census in 2016.

13 April 2017, Budapest, Hungary