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The AGRicultural Integrated Survey (AGRIS)


The need for more, better, cheaper and faster statistical data in the agricultural and rural sector is widely recognized. While some progress on accessing existing information has been made in recent years, critical gaps on data production still remain in many countries - largely explained by an absence of quality data collection. 

In the context of the Global Strategy to improve Agricultural and Rural Statistics, a new tool is being developed: the Agricultural Integrated Survey (AGRIS). AGRIS is a farm-based modular 10-year survey program, which relies on cost effective statistical methodologies and leverages on the most recent IT innovations. It complements other relevant initiatives such as the World Bank LSMS-ISA and USDA CARDS and aims to scale-up these global efforts.
AGRIS is designed as a cost-effective way for national statistical agencies to accelerate the production of quality disaggregated data on the technical, economic, environmental and social dimensions of agricultural holdings. The data generated is meant to inform policy design and implementation, as well as improve market efficiency and support research.
AGRIS is synchronized with the Agricultural Census and operates over a 10-year cycle. It covers different technical, economic, environmental and social dimensions of agricultural holdings through its core module and its 4 recommended rotating modules: ‘economy’, ‘labour force’, ‘machinery and equipment’, and ‘production methods and environment’. Additional rotating modules may also be added to respond to additional specific data needs. AGRIS, being a 10-year integrated survey program, lays the foundations for the creation of an efficient agricultural statistical system.
National agencies that are willing to design and implement a customized AGRIS will find in the AGRIS Toolkit the necessary resources in terms of (1) technical methodology, (2) specialized survey tools and instruments that use the latest knowledge and technology and cover the full range of survey steps, and (3) budget and institutional framework guidelines. Currently, the Global Strategy is developing the AGRIS methodology and is scaling up a network of expertise, to provide the necessary training, technical assistance and funding opportunities. Demand from national agencies is high and the target is to introduce AGRIS in two countries by the end of the year.

François Fonteneau, AMIS Project Coordinator, FAO, Rome


Improving Countries’ Statistics on Forest Products

The Global Strategy will launch two initiatives to enhance statistical capacity of developing countries in forest products’ statistics and improve international comparability of data across countries.
The first initiative aims to improve countries’ statistical capacity by developing a handbook on forest products’ statistical standards. The handbook will cover the concepts, definitions, classifications, methodologies of data collection and dissemination, and best practices applied to forest product statistics. It will provide countries with guidance and references to improve national statistical programmes and enhance the international comparability of statistics. As part of the work, an update on international forest product classification and a review of current national forestry statistical systems will be conducted.
The second initiative focuses on improving countries’ statistics on fuelwood production and consumption. As the main source of energy for people in a great number of developing countries, fuelwood plays an essential role in supporting livelihoods and has important implications on health of rural populations (especially women) and deforestation. Despite its importance, the national fuelwood statistics are very weak due to the informal nature of the activities. The project will develop a household fuelwood survey tool, covering various aspects related to fuelwood (e.g. sources, type and amount of labor associated with firewood collection and charcoal production, annual consumption, usage by purpose). The tool can be a standalone survey or incorporated into existing household surveys or censuses (agriculture or population and housing) as a component.
The work will start in mid-2015 and continue through 2017. 

Arvydas Lebedys, Forestry Officer (Statistics), Forest Economics, Policy and Products Division (FOE) FAO;

Yanshu Li, Forestry Officer (Statistics), Forest Economics, Policy and Products Division (FOE)FAO


Expert Meetings on Three Research Themes

The Global Office of the Global Strategy hosted 3 expert meetings at FAO headquarters, on 13-17 April 2015. The meetings were attended by experts from various national statistical offices, international organizations, development organizations, and donor organizations such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The objectives were primarily to review technical reports on proposed methods, discuss the contents of field test protocols and modalities for implementation in pilot countries. Participants engaged in pertinent and successful discussions throughout the three meetings, providing clear guidance to the research partners in reviewing and improving their proposals. The main conclusions for each research topic may be summarized as follows:

Improving Methods for Estimating Crop Area, Yield, and Production Under Mixed, Repeated, and Continuous Cropping

The participants concluded that more emphasis should be placed on measurement issues as opposed to sampling issues. Furthermore, a wide variety of country situations emerged, requiring a range of methodological options. Hence, a country typology based on current practices and available resources in the national statistical systems should be developed, so that data collection methodologies can be prioritized and tailored to each type. The Technical Report on gap analysis and the methodological recommendations, as well as the Field Test Protocol, should be organized around this typology.  

Improving Methods for Estimating Post-Harvest Losses

The methodological proposal illustrated Post-Harvest Losses’ data collection methods in correspondence with all the post-harvest operations on farms, during transport and storage. The relevance of Food Supply Chain or Value Chain analyses was identified as an important preliminary step for identifying the critical points where most losses occur. The next step for the guidelines is to link these analyses to statistical sample surveys and to guide countries in how to integrate data collection methods on those points into the existing survey program so as to achieve cost-effectiveness. Pilot tests should concern the development of two-phase sample surveys using results from Food Supply Chain or Value Chain analyses as well as experimental design tests to assess the cost-efficiency of selected measurement methods. An example is the visual scale on 3 or 6 grades as opposed to 10.

Effective Use of Administrative Data to Improve Agricultural Statistics

A consensus was reached on an operational definition of administrative data for agricultural statistics, necessary for this research work. The definition also specifies what should be included. The Expert Meeting participants recommended focusing further developments on improving the main source of data in most developing countries, in particular, reporting systems from extension agents. Register systems should also be considered in countries where such systems exist. Following lessons learnt from practices in developed countries, the most relevant methods for using administrative data in agricultural statistics in developing countries were also identified. Recommendations were made on the options to be field tested, including reporting systems, use of CAPI, data from large/modern or cash crop farms, use of administrative data for small geographical area estimates, probabilistic record linkage. 

Naman Keita, Research Coordinator, Global Strategy,
Carola Fabi, TA- Training Coordinator, Global Strategy,
Michael Rahija, Research Officer, Global Strategy

Upcoming Meetings

High-Level Global Strategy Conference

23-25 june 2015, FAO HEADQUARTERS, ROME


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