FAO releases new guidelines in time for 2016 agricultural census

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) compiled and released new guidelines Tuesday to help governments with their agricultural censuses that are set to launch in 2016.

The guidelines, which are updated every 10 years, are customized for the needs of individual countries.

"These censuses are crucial for governments to implement evidence-based policies to foster agricultural and rural development, ensure access to land, improve food security and reduce the adverse environmental impacts of agricultural activities," FAO said. "Census data are also essential for the private sector to make informed decisions that guide their investments in agri-business activities.The information collected provides an accurate picture of the agricultural sector and a reliable sampling frame for current agricultural surveys."

The censuses are used to evaluate the overall structure and conditions of the agriculture sector and include questions about number and size of holdings, land use, crop area, crop intensity, irrigation facilities, agricultural input use, livestock numbers and farmer demographics and employment.

For the first time, the FAO guidelines include information for fisheries.

"The use of these guidelines by FAO member countries ensures that census results are harmonized and internationally comparable, and allows countries to benchmark their performance against others," Pietro Gennari, FAO chief statistician, said. "They address the requirements of both developed and developing countries, and provide the foundation for the development of an integrated census and survey program, for using innovative methods and tools for data collection, and ultimately, for making better informed strategic decisions."

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Food and Agriculture Organization

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