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FAO’s statistical work

Sound and timely statistics are key to inform decisions, policies and investments that tackle issues related to food and agriculture, from hunger and malnutrition to rural poverty, from food systems productivity to the sustainable use of natural resources or to climate change.

FAO is dedicated to collecting, analysing, interpreting and disseminating food and agriculture statistics that are relevant for decision-making.

It is for this reason that developing and implementing methodologies and standards to assist countries in generating sound data and information is at the core of FAO’s statistical work.

FAO also supports member countries in the collection, dissemination and uptake of data to formulate policies and plans or to better orient investments.

Major areas of FAO’s statistical work

A comprehensive list of FAO Statistical activities is included in the Statistical Programme of Work.

Data collection

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Data dissemination

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Methods and standards

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Statistical capacity development

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How we work

The FAO’s statistical system operates under the oversight of the Office of Chief Statistician and it consists of a statistics division, statistics units embedded in technical departments and a Data Lab for Statistical Innovation.

FAO’s statutory bodies on statistics

FAO has three statutory bodies on statistics, composed of senior statistics officials from member countries, which meet every two years:

Their role is to review the state of food and agricultural statistics in their respective region, to advise Members on the development and standardization of agricultural statistics within the general framework of FAO’s work and to convene the study groups or other Subsidiary Bodies of national experts required for this purpose.

Quality standards and professional ethics

FAO Statistics and Data Quality Assurance Framework (SDQAF), adopted in 2014, and the Corporate Statistical Standards adopted more recently, set out the principles and recommended best practices to ensure that FAO statistical production processes and statistical outputs are of the highest possible quality. The SQAF is based on the Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics and the Principles Governing International Statistical Activities (CCSA), which guide the statistical activities of national and international organizations, and is inspired by the quality frameworks adopted by other supranational and international organizations [e.g. European Central Bank (ECB), Eurostat, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and International Monetary Fund (IMF)]. In 2020, FAO has also endorsed the ISI’s Declaration on Professional Ethics (2010) to encourage all its statisticians to adopt high-standard professional values and ethics in statistics.

International collaboration

FAO makes a significant contribution to global discussions related to food and agricultural statistics through its participation in international and regional statistical fora.

As the UN agency responsible for the development of methods and standards on food and agriculture statistics and for their implementation in countries, the Organization acts as the Secretariat of the United Nations Committee of Experts on Food Security, Agricultural and Rural Statistics (UN-CEAG) and the Coordinating Working Party on Fishery Statistics (CWP).

The Organization also participates in several Committee of experts and working groups under the United Nations Statistical Commission (UNSC) (the highest body of the global statistical system bringing together the Chief Statisticians from all UN member states) as well as other regional statistical coordination bodies relevant to FAO’s statistical mandate.

Finally, FAO also co-organizes, in collaboration each time with a different member country, the International Conference on Agricultural Statistics (ICAS), which is held every three years under the auspices of the Committee on Agricultural Statistics of the International Statistical Institute (ISI).

In focus