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Timely and reliable statistical information is one of the most important prerequisites for the formulation of sound development plans and policies aimed at improving the efficiency of production and distribution of food and agricultural products in countries, thereby raising their standards of living.

Ever since its establishment in 1945, FAO has placed great emphasis on the proper development of comprehensive food and agricultural statistics as the only sound basis for the analysis of the food and nutrition situation and for action to improve it. The statistics of food balance sheets play an important role in this task. Food balance sheets provide comprehensive information on patterns, levels and trends of national diets.

The purpose of this Handbook is to provide member countries and interested institutions with the basic methodology regarding the preparation of food balance sheets. It is also intended for use in training activities of nationals from developing countries in the construction of food balance sheets.

After a brief historical background, the document discusses data sources, concepts and definitions regarding various elements of the food balance equation. It also gives numerical illustrations on how to prepare commodity balances. Furthermore, examples regarding applications and use of food balance sheet data in the analysis of national food situations, levels and trends are given.

This document has been prepared by Mr. K.H. Becker, Consultant, in close cooperation with Mr. E. Gillin, Chief Basic Data Branch and with the secretarial support of Ms. Gianna Marciani-Politi and Ms. Jayne Beaney

L. Kabat
Statistics Division

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