Work begins for a national ‘agriculture census’ for PNG

Posted on:Aug 07, 2019News

DAL and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) had jointly hosted a successful workshop on Geography Information System (GIS) and Sampling System for key stakeholders in agricultural statistics in Port Moresby during 17-18 July 2019. The two-day event was held to discuss and address statistical and agriculture census needs for Papua New Guinea and particularly to develop a framework for the proposed 2020 National Agriculture Census.

The workshop saw participants from the National Statistics Office (NSO), Department of National Planning and Monitoring (DNPM), National Mapping Bureau, PNG Forest Authority, University of Papua New Guinea Satellite Imagery, Climatic Change Development Authority, National Weather Service, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), FAO, DAL and other relevant stakeholders.

NSO Acting National Statistician, PrepJohn Igitoi, officiated with opening remarks stating that as PNG was experiencing rapid changes in its development landscape, the use of modern technology is critical for reporting and monitoring of development programs for the government and the country. He said that technology keeps changing and therefore PNG needs to keep abreast with the pace of change and embrace training opportunities that come along at this time as NSO was getting into preparatory phase of the 2020 National Population Census.

“I would like to thank FAO for seeing the need to assist the Government of PNG to provide the required technical assistance to improve and enhance capacity needs in various sectors of government including agriculture, food insecurity, forestry and climate change,” Igitoi said.

Under a technical cooperation programme, FAO and DAL have been working in partnership with NSO on in strengthening data on food security, agriculture and livestock production.

Senior Statistician and GIS Expert, from the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok, Thailand, Dr Jacques Delince, stressed the importance of using GIS and sampling system in agricultural statistics during the two days workshop. Dr Delince said FAO provides technical assistance to countries in the Asia-Pacific region to support the implementation of their agriculture censuses in line with the 2020 World Programme for the Census of Agriculture guidelines (WCA2020).

“Through the FAO technical cooperation programme, FAO provides technical assistance to a number of countries in the Asia and Pacific region for planning and implementing their agriculture censuses and this list currently includes Bangladesh, Bhutan, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal, Timor-Leste and PNG will be part of these countries to receive FAO technical support,” Dr Delince said.

He said in PNG, FAO’s technical assistance is currently being extended to technical trainings on the use and implementation of new cost-effective methodologies for agriculture census such as CAPI, GIS and Master Sampling Frame. The support will also focus on developing a draft agriculture census questionnaire (both in paper and CAPI formats) for pre-testing.

For PNG, developing an agriculture framework is a prerequisite to conduct a major agriculture survey. The use of statistical methods and tools such as GIS and sampling can enhance and upgrade the frame required.

DAL Technical Division Officer, Mr Heai Hoko said the department has been carrying out estimated planning which needs proper systematic approach to generate baseline statistical data

Mr Hoko said agriculture has played a major role in PNG’s economy in which the government has given priority to the sector in its planning and budgetary processes.

The last agriculture census in PNG was conducted 40 years ago andit is outdated at present and needs updating. The lack of baseline agriculture statistics poses a severe challenge for the government to monitor and evaluate the impacts of agriculture projects and national development indicators in the agriculture and rural development sector.

FAO National Technical Officer Ms Mirriam Mondia said agriculture census would be targeting household farmers and FAO would be supporting a pilot agriculture census specifically in provinces that FAO has its major projects.

“NSO as the mandated government agency on statistical data in PNG would conduct the agriculture census in close collaboration with DAL and with technical support from FAO,” Mondia said.

She said there is a dire need to improve and upscale the tools and systems currently used in information management in agriculture for complete information on the situation of farmers in the country.

The engagement of FAO expertise to provide technical support on GIS and sampling is timely particularly for officers within DAL and NSO to upskill their knowledge and expertise to continue to support the work in statistics and for conducting the agriculture census.