UN agricultural agency and USAID sign agreement to boost developing countries' ability to track key data

UN Thursday 8th September, 2016

un agricultural agency and usaid sign agreement to boost developing countries ability to track key data

7 September 2016 — The United Nations agricultural agency today signed a $15

million agreement with the United States Agency for International Development

(USAID)nbsp;to boosting the capacity of developing countries to track key

agricultural data ” information considered essential to good policy-making and

that will help track progress toward achieving the Sustainable

Development Goals (SDGs).

‘In the decades to come, humanity will need to produce more food for a growing population using

natural resources such as water, land andnbsp;biodiversity in a sustainable

way ” while coping with the challenges imposed by climate change,’ the

Director-General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, Jos” Graziano da

Silva, said in a news release.

‘Our ability to boost food yields sustainably and meet the SDG hunger

eradication target will hinge on the availability of better, cost-effective and

timely statistical data for agriculture and rural areas’ he added.

On 1 January 2016, thenbsp;17 SDGsnbsp;of thenbsp;2030 Agenda for Sustainable Developmentnbsp;”

adopted by world leaders in September last year ” officially came into

force.nbsp;Over the next fifteen years, with the aim of achieving the SDGs,

countries will mobilize efforts to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities

and tackle climate change, while ensuring that no one is left behind.

In particular, Goal 2 of

the SDGs is centred on ending hunger, achieving food security, improving

nutrition, and promoting sustainable agriculture.nbsp;According to FAO, Goal 2 recognizes

the interlinkages among supporting sustainable agriculture, empowering small

farmers, promoting gender equality, ending rural poverty, ensuring healthy

lifestyles, tackling climate change, and other issues.

Feeding a growing population

A farmer stands alongside his crops in Ed Damazine, in Sudan”s Blue Nile State. Photo: OCHA

Tending crops

Agro-forestry farmers tend to their crops in Kigoma, Tanzania. Forests are an integral part of the national agriculture policy with the aim of protecting arable land from erosion and increasing agricultural production. Photo: FAO/Simon Maina

Increasing yields

FAO has assisted Mozambique in stepping up quality seed production to increase crop yields

The USAID donation will cover the first phase of an

FAO-led project that will run from 2016 to 2021, starting with pilot efforts in

four developing countries ” two in sub-Saharan Africa, one in Latin America and

one in Asia. A dialogue is under way with eligible countries.

The goal of the project is to design and implement a new and cost-effective

approach to agricultural data collection in developing world contexts, known as

agricultural integrated surveys (AGRIS).

In the news release, FAO said that the AGRIS methodology

will not only capture improved annual data on agricultural production, but also

broader and more detailed structural information relating to farms, including

employment, machinery use, production costs, farming practices, and

environmental impacts.

It will incorporate recent innovations like remote

sensing, global positioning systems (GPS), mobile technology and various uses

of ‘big data.’ These tools will introduce more objective approaches to

measuring agricultural performance, in some cases replacing traditional, more

expensive methods. In addition to better and more detailed data, AGRIS is also

expected to promote the integration of disparate data sources, improve data

timeliness and usability, and cut data collection costs.

“The end result,” according to FAO, “will be high-quality data on a wide range

of technical, economic, environmental and social dimensions of agriculture that

will help governments analyse and understand the impacts of agricultural

policies, assess progress toward the SDGs and other goals, and shape better

policies.”

“Strong national data systems are critical for governments

and private sector actors to make informed and smart decisions that foster food

security and economic prosperity,” the Assistant to the Administrator for

USAID’s Bureau for Food Security, Beth Dunford, said in the FAO news release.

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