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09.03.2006 General News

GSS to undertake census of agric sector

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Accra, March 9, GNA - The Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) would conduct a census of the agriculture sector in 2007, some 22 years after the last exercise which ideally should be conducted every 10 years. Professor Nicholas Nsowah-Nuamah, Deputy Government Statistician, said at the setting up of two committees to plan the census in Accra on Thursday that the committees would ensure cooperation among stakeholder institutions during the exercise and ensure the elimination of duplication of collection of data, which would strengthen the agriculture statistics and national data systems.

The committees are the Agricultural Statistics Advisory Committee and the Census of Agriculture Committee.

Prof. Nsowah-Nuamah said the importance of the agriculture sector could not be overemphasised, being the main source of employment and foreign exchange earnings.

He noted that inadequate human resources, absence of a reliable concept, methodology, scope and coverage had led to the recording of data with doubtful quality.

Prof. Nsowah-Nuamah said statistics from the sector created an unusual picture that needed to be investigated, understood and explained to build reliable and useful research results. Data from the census is expected to, among other things, enhance accurate estimation of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), provide data for benchmarking and enable stakeholders to monitor the progress of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS) programmes. It would also provide data for use by the private sector, policy planning and aid in poverty and food security analysis.

Giving an overview of the current state of statistics on the sector, Mr Joseph Wumbee of the Agriculture Statistics Sector of the GSS; emphasised the need to develop a good and sustainable data with a wider scope that would be available on time and be accessible. He said the sector was the main source of food, employed 50 per cent of the actual labour force, provided 36 per cent of GDP and was a source of raw materials for agro-based industries. However, its foreign exchange earnings were not fully analysed.

He said the agriculture sector covered crops and livestock, forestry and game, fishery and cocoa. Collection of its statistics involved the GSS, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, COCOBOD, Research Directory of the Fisheries Department, the Forestry Commission, Ghana Export Promotion Council, Meteorological Service Agency, Ministry of Trade and Industry and Energy Commission.

The institutions were individually responsible for information or data on livestock population, number of livestock slaughtered, vessel and canoe data, inland and marine catch, rainfall pattern, fuel wood, volume of logs by species, product prices and input costs. Mr Wumbee said weaknesses in existing data that had necessitated the census were data relevance, accuracy, timeliness and punctuality, accessibility and clarity, comparability, coherence and completeness and inadequate documentation.

Dr Kwame Nyanteh, a private statistical consultant, lauded the initiative saying that an agricultural census was equally important to the economy as any other indicator. It is estimated that the exercise would cost between three to seven million dollars. 9 March 06