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19.09.2005 General News

Seminar on devt of agricultural statistics systems opens

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Accra, Sept. 19, GNA - African governments must focus attention on rural areas and rural populations to achieve a significant reduction in poverty and food insecurity on the Continent, a senior official of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization said on Monday. Mr Oloche A. Adache, FAO Assistant Director-General, said this was because the large number of the poor and the hungry in Africa resided in the rural areas and worked on the land.

"And for these efforts to help to achieve the expected results they must be designed on the basis of real facts; focus on the right targets and have their results regularly assessed," he explained. Mr Edache, who is also the Regional Representative for Africa, was speaking at the opening of a three-day regional seminar on the "Development of Integrated Agricultural Statistics Systems in Support of Food Policies and Programmes".

About 60 participants drawn from Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are attending the seminar, which is aimed at assisting member countries to design national strategies for the development of statistics and planning of an integrated agricultural statistics systems with special attention given to the data needs for regional integration. Mr Edache said reliable and accurate data on the agricultural and rural sector would no doubt provide immeasurable support in the battle to break the vicious cycle of poverty and food insecurity facing the Region.

"This is because policies are shaped out of available information and that reliable data are needed for better targeting of development programmes and services at the poor and the food insecure and for the monitoring and evaluation of the results and the impact of policies and programmes."

He said currently, many African countries did not have adequate systems of agricultural statistics or the capability to use the information that was available for analytical studies in spite of the increasing demand for the service.

He, therefore, stressed the need for decision-makers to equip themselves with qualitative and quantitative information to analyse constraints, identify benchmark situations, set qualified objectives and monitor the implementation of policies and programmes.

In a speech read for Mr Ernest A. Debrah, Minister of Food and Agriculture, he said although commendable efforts were being made by statistical offices in developing countries to provide the required statistics, the results so far achieved were far from the optimum. This, he said, was because of the inability of government statistical institutions to attract high calibre personnel; high cost of data collection; lack of integration and coordination of statistical activities between concerned institutions and organisations.

Mr Debrah said food security and nutrition issues transcended the fields of agriculture and health into roads, ports infrastructure, finance and other such related sectors, which needed proper integration and coordination. 19 Sept.05

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