Gaps in agriculture data

GAPS still exist in agriculture data at national and regional level in the Asia Pacific region, says Tourism, Trade and Industry Minister Faiyaz Koya.

Mr Koya made the remarks while opening the 27th Session of Asia and Pacific Commission on Agricultural Statistics (APCAS) at Sheraton Fiji Resort in Nadi yesterday.

“The data situation for agriculture has eroded in recent decades to the point where, many countries lack the capacity to produce and report even the minimum set of data to monitor national trends or guide the international development debate,” he said.

According to Mr Koya, agriculture played a vital role in the development of many Asia Pacific countries, especially since it was a source of livelihood for a majority of the population, particularly those in rural areas.

“In the Pacific, around three quarters of the population live in the rural areas and depend on agriculture and fisheries for survival.

“They are also vulnerable to the long-term impacts of climate change.

“Therefore, building a sustainable agricultural statistics system will not only help in targeted policy making but also help in monitoring the progress towards the sustainable development goals (SDGs) in the region.”

Mr Koya said the changing face of agriculture in the 21st century had increased requirements for agricultural statistics beyond traditional data about production, which was used to monitor the status of food availability and food security.

“In addition, one must not forget that new data requirements are emerging and we therefore need to understand how population growth, demand for natural resources, use of food products to produce biofuels, and the effects of extreme weather and climate change, affect food security, poverty and wellbeing.

“These critical issues are not independent of each other — an action in one area has consequences on the others.

“There is increasing demand to integrate data on the economy, including the social and environmental dimensions related to human activities.”