FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

Agricultural statisticians in Asia and the Pacific look to innovation to improve data collection in support of ensuring affordable and healthy diets across the region

24/05/2024 Kathmandu

In the largest and hungriest region of the world, agricultural and food statisticians in Asia and the Pacific aim to use innovations in data collection and other new approaches to reduce hunger and improve access to affordable, health diets across the region, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reported today.

The announcement was among the findings and objectives of a week-long gathering of more than 100 agriculture and food statistics experts from 30 countries in Asia and the Pacific, and several international organizations, who were taking part in the 30th Session of the Asia and Pacific Commission on Agriculture Statistics (APCAS30) in the Nepalese capital.

The experts discussed and debated new developments in food and agriculture statistics, from the use of satellite data to statistics that monitor progress towards the sustainable development goals, and targets to end hunger and reduce food loss and waste and achieve gender equality.  They also deliberated on new approaches to conducting agriculture surveys and censuses, measuring the cost and affordability of healthy diets, and improving data on nutrition outcomes.

More agricultural data needed in Asia and the Pacific

Nepal’s Minister of Agriculture and Livestock Development, Jwala Kumari Sah, opened the session noting the importance of statistics to improve agriculture production and productivity and enhance food security in Nepal. Hem Raj Regmi, Nepal’s Deputy Chief Statistician, added that “agriculture statistics provide vital evidence for public and private decision-making and are essential to target food security policies.  It is crucial to know where your farmers are in your country to plan rural infrastructure; to know what crops are grown and where to predict production and food needs of the population; to know what livestock are bred and in what numbers to understand veterinary services. That local area information needs agriculture census data.”

Digitization and innovation point the way forward for data collection

Experts from many countries discussed the collecting of food and agriculture statistics, and innovations used, from the use of GPS hand-held devices and remote signals from satellites to measure crop areas, to the use of tablets and digital questionnaires to administer surveys, to photo evidence by households to identify and estimate the nutrition quality and quantity of fish consumed. 

Sangita Dubey, the FAO regional statistician, remarked on the depth and breadth of experience in the region. “You can never predict the source of the next innovation – this is as true in statistics as in any other area.  Meetings like APCAS provide such an important forum for countries to share their experiences, for us to learn from one another and push the boundaries of knowledge and innovation.”

Founded in 1966, the Asia and Pacific Commission on Agricultural Statistics (APCAS) is a statutory body of FAO, bringing together senior responsible for food and agricultural statistics in their respective countries to review and discuss recent developments in their agricultural statistical systems and exchange ideas with experts from FAO and other organizations on the state of food and agricultural statistics in the region. Nepal was unanimously elected as host of APCAS30.

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