By Iddi Yire, GNA
Accra, Sept. 9, GNA - The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has presented tablets and other information and technology (IT) equipment to the Statistics Research and Information Directorate (SRID) of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA).
The electronic equipment and software valued at GHâ‚µ900,000.00 are to enhance the collection of agricultural statistics.
The equipment would minimise human error in agriculture data collection and analysis, as well as improve overall data quality and credibility.
Mr Andrew Karas, the USAID Mission Director, handed over the equipment to Dr Ahmed Yakubu Alhassan, a Deputy Minister, MoFA in-charge of Crops; in the presence of Dr Hannah Bisiw, a Deputy Minister, MoFA, in-charge of Livestock.
The donation included 3G tablets fitted with global positioning system (GPS), which would help SRID produce credible data and information to support appropriate and effective policy analysis, decision-making and planning.
In Ghana, policymakers often lack quality data, as well as the capacity to analyse and communicate findings.
Funded by USAID, the Agriculture Policy Support Project (APSP) assisted SRID to design, develop and implement a Computer-Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI) data collection system in support of the Ghana Agriculture Production and Market Price Survey.
Dr Alhassan lauded the United States Government for its immense support for Ghana's agriculture sector over the years.
He expressed gratitude to the APSP of the USAID for supporting the SRID of MoFA with the equipment to help enhance agriculture data collection, management and dissemination in Ghana.
He said the persistent constraints of delayed survey completion, low data quality and rising costs incurred using the traditional data collection approaches constituted a basis to explore new and modern tools for collecting data as the CAPI system sought to help them to do.
He said the advantage of a CAPI system in shortening the period of data collection and assisted cost savings as well as improved data quality had led SRID to seek assistance from APSP to develop a CAPI system to modernise data collection across the districts and regions of Ghana.
He said the mandate of SRID within the MoFA, is to provide relevant, accurate and timely agricultural statistics and information for agricultural policy formulation, planning, project implementation, monitoring and evaluation for efficient communication within MoFA and the public.
'With the introduction of the CAPI system, including the use of android based tablets to administer electronic questionnaires and the direct transmission of data collection to serves, the Ministry has been ushered into a new and improved phase of agricultural data collection, that should make available reliable, accurate and comprehensive data for decision making within and outside the Ministry,' Dr Alhassan said.
Mr Karas said the equipment and software would modernise the Ministry's approach to data collection with cutting edge technology and systems, enabling real-time mobile data collection on 3G Android tablets.
'It will significantly improve the Ministry's capacity to undertake field surveys and collect, secure and analyse data. I cannot overstate the importance of this. Effective policies require comprehensive knowledge about the people impacted by them,' he said.
He said the software and equipment was just the first step; and that the organisation was taking a holistic approach to ensure quality agriculture data collection in Ghana.
He said 150 MoFA officials at the district, regional and national levels were trained to effectively collect data for Ghana's Annual General Agriculture Production and Marketing Surveys.
Mr Walter Nunez Rodriguez, the Chief of Party of the APSP, said the APSP is a five-year Feed the Future project, with the goal to improve the food security-enabling environment for the private sector investment.