FAO in Namibia

Building a data-driven future for Namibian agriculture

Attendees captured during the Assessment Findings Workshop in Windhoek, Namibia. ©FAO

Windhoek, Namibia — Accurate data, empowered communities, and a thriving agricultural sector—that's the vision emerging from the recently held Strategic Plan for Agriculture and Rural Statistics (SPARS) Assessment Findings Workshop. The workshop marked a crucial phase in the development of the strategic plan. Hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in partnership with the Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA), the event targeted staff from the NSA, line ministries (members of the Sector Statistics Coordinators Committee), and the design team of the SPARS document, including the Sub-Technical Working Groups (S-TWGs).

The workshop was centered around findings from desktop reviews of three sub-sectors: crop and livestock, fisheries and aquaculture, and environment, forestry, and natural resources. Sub-sector experts presented their findings, forming the foundation for an in-depth country assessment report. The session, attended by representatives from the NSA and relevant line ministries, including the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform, Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, and Ministry of Environment, Forestry, and Tourism, successfully harnessed the experience and expertise of participants, reaching wide-ranging consensus.

Data for transformation

In the opening remarks, Abel Sindano, NSA Executive: Economic Statistics, emphasized the importance of the SPARS initiative and highlighted the crucial role the assessment findings will play in shaping a strategic plan tailored to the agriculture sector's specific needs. "This data will be instrumental in ensuring a future where Namibian agriculture thrives," said Sindano.

Qingyun Diao, the FAO Representative in Namibia, delivered the keynote address, highlighting the significance of accurate and accessible data for strengthening agriculture and rural statistics. She emphasized the alignment of SPARS with national strategic plans and meeting regional and international requirements. Diao also stressed the transformative power of accurate data, noting, "It empowers farmers, informs policy decisions, and ultimately drives positive change in the sector."

Integrating agriculture into national statistics

The agricultural sector plays a critical role in food and nutrition security, employment creation, and income increase, highlighting the necessity to manage and improve the availability, quality, and accessibility of data and statistics related to agriculture and the rural population.

SPARS, developed under the second pillar of the global strategy to improve agriculture and rural statistics, advocates for the integration of agriculture into the national statistical system. The Strategic Plan for Agriculture and Rural Statistics aims to guarantee better coverage for agriculture and rural statistics, respond to regional and international requirements, ensure good integration mechanisms of the agriculture sector into existing and future strategic plans of the NSA, and improve administrative data for agriculture statistics.

On 17 July 2023, an inception workshop marked the commencement of the SPARS project, this was followed by a desktop review and an in-depth agriculture statistical system assessment on sub-sectors. The assessment is the second of three phases of the SPARS design process, providing primary input for the preparation of strategic objectives and an action plan.

Progress, challenges, and next steps

The assessment workshop's objectives were to present findings of the in-depth country assessment, seek inputs from the Sector Statistics Coordinators Committee, and present the way forward for the SPARS development process, specifically the Planning phase.

Norah Ngatjizeko, FAO National Project Coordinator for SPARS, highlighted the progress, challenges, and achievements of the project, despite delays caused by the 2023 Population Census. She also outlined the way forward, stating, "Moving into Phase 3, the focus will be on meeting strategic objectives, expected results, and proposing a vision and mission. This will involve collaboration with sub-sector experts, Technical Working Groups, and stakeholder consultations."

Sub-sector experts such as Dr. Mwala Lubinda presented an overview of Namibia's National Agriculture and Rural Statistics System, addressing key aspects such as capacity, ongoing statistics activities, challenges, and data gaps.

In summary, the workshop provided a platform for collaboration and consensus-building, crucial for advancing the SPARS project. The final draft of the SPARS document is expected to be endorsed in May 2024, paving the way for a robust agricultural statistics framework in Namibia.