FAO in Laos

Government and FAO collaborate on agricultural statistics in Lao PDR

03/07/2014

Vientiane.- More than 50 representatives from four Government ministries, international organizations and the private sector met in Vientiane to decide on a programme for improving the quality of agricultural statistics that are required by policy-makers, planners, researchers and other actors at national, provincial and local levels. The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) and FAO, with the participation of the Lao Statistics Bureau (LSB), assembled the experts for the first national workshop in Lao PDR under the "Global Strategy to Improve Agricultural and Rural Statistics".

The Strategy is an international effort aimed at improving the quality and quantity of agricultural and rural statistics, which will provide the basis for governments and other actors to make better-informed decisions on tackling food insecurity, poverty, and climate change. In Asia and the Pacific, the implementation of the Global Strategy is supported by FAO, the Asian Development Bank, and the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific (ESCAP), and Lao PDR has been identified as a priority country.

Following a week of visits to various locations in Savannakhet province to review the ways in which statistics are gathered, a joint MAF-FAO team returned to Vientiane to hold a workshop to review their findings. Chaired by Mr. Somphanh Chanphesay, Deputy Director General of MAF’s Department of Planning and Cooperation, the workshop drew attention to the need for greater capacity in the national statistical system to keep pace with the ever-increasing national and international demand for data. Participants were informed about the current capacity for collection and processing of data from villages through to national level. Factors that impact negatively on the quality of agricultural statistics in the country were identified, including weak infrastructure, gaps in data collection, and methodological and operational problems.

It was agreed that a new approach to improve the quality of agricultural statistics should combine new methods for better data collection, revised administrative procedures, and development of the relevant organizations’ capacities. Greater coordination between government agencies would lead to more efficient collection and validation of data, and clarify the roles of the organizations within the system.

Dr. Stephen Rudgard, FAO Representative in Lao PDR stated that technical support for improving food and nutrition statistics is a priority his organization’s country programme, and that FAO will be collaborating with other partner agencies supporting the Global Strategy. Ms. Phetsamone Sone, Director-General of the Department of Economics Statistics in LSB stated that FAO’s support would help to address the National Statistical System Development Strategy and the Country Action Plan for Agricultural and Rural Statistics.