The Royal Government of Bhutan hosted the 26th Session of the Asia and Pacific Commission on Agricultural Statistics (APCAS), convened by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, in Thimphu on February 15 to 19.
The session drew various recommendations from a total of 76 participants ifrom 17 APCAS member countries , observers from the Maldives, Samoa, the SAARC, and ASEAN Food Security Information System (AFSIS), and 16 persons from FAO.
The Commission recommended that SAARC should explore methods of collaboration with FAO to improve the profile of agricultural and rural statistics and to assist SAARC countries to improve the quality and availability of agricultural and rural statistics. As next steps, a concept paper on long term collaboration between SAARC and FAO in the field of agricultural statistics is to be made available to the SAARC Secretariat.
For the production of the necessary data, to meet the UN sustainable development goals monitoring demands, APCAS recommended that FAO set standards and provide technical support at national and regional level.
The commission noted the continuing concern about the lack of full funding to undertake such an important statistical operation, and so recommended for FAO to support capacity development initiatives in the planning and implementation of the integrated programme of agricultural censuses and surveys.
The importance of reconciliation of data coming from economic, social and health domains within the framework of food security statistics was recognized, therefore, APCAS encouraged all countries to share micro-data from household budget/consumption/expenditure surveys with FAO statistics division.
Countries were encouraged to explore adding a module of questions for estimating food insecure population based on food insecurity experience scale in the ongoing large scale surveys, like population census or household income expenditure survey.
FAO proposed for a system of environmental and economic accounting, and agriculture strategy which is endorsed and characterized by a phased approach in data complexity, in support of statistical capacity development activities in member countries.
The commission recommended that FAO support countries in the Asia-Pacific region, through establishment of country pilots, and to provide technical assistance to members in improving the collection and reporting of government expenditures on agriculture and credit to agriculture data.
Further, it was also recommended that FAO compile an updated manual on statistics pertaining to prices received by farmers, and document existing challenges and good practices in the field. FAO also encouraged countries to collaborate with their central banks in reporting credit to agriculture.
At the end of the deliberations, the commission endorsed the establishment of the Global Commission on Agricultural Statistics in a two-tiered approach, and recommended that the terms of reference of the global commission and the relationship with the regional bodies be clarified.