Policy decisions relating to food security and sustainable agricultural development can now be made more effectively based on high quality, timely and relevant statistics. This is the vision of the Pacific Strategic Plan for Agricultural and Fisheries Statistics (P-SPAFS), launched on Monday during the 27th meeting of the Asia-Pacific Commission on Agricultural Statistics. The meeting is taking place this week in Nadi, Fiji.
The implementation of P-SPAFS over ten years will produce regular, reliable statistics for agriculture; fisheries; rural development; food security, and natural resources. The plan will enhance data comparability in these sectors, across Pacific Small Island Developing States. Promoting the use of standard methods of data collection makes statistical analysis becomes very cost effective.
The development of P-SPAFS was supported by the Global Strategy to Improve Agricultural and Rural Statistics in Asia Pacific, and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Pacific regional programme; in partnership with the Pacific Community (through its Statistics for Development Division, and the European Union supported Intra ACP Pacific Agriculture Policy Project).
Speaking at the launch of the ten-year strategic plan, the Pacific Community (SPC) Deputy Director General, Dr Audrey Aumua said, “P-SPAFS is an exemplar of a successful partnership between FAO and SPC, which brings together their comparative advantages. With this strategy, we hope to improve the quality of agricultural statistics in the Pacific sub-region. However, our work does not stop here. We need to channel effective investment in the implementation of the strategy for it to be a success”.
Three quarters of the Pacific population live in rural areas and are largely reliant on agriculture and fisheries based livelihoods. While both sectors remain a priority for development, effective decision making at the national level requires evidence. Examples of sector specific information that can support decision-making include land in production; crops being grown; costs of production; fish capture data; dependence of families on farming and fishing; and age of farmers or fishers.
According to Mr Mukesh Kumar Srivastava, APCAS Secretary / Senior Statistician, FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, ‘the strategy will help to draw attention of the global community towards the unique challenges of Pacific SIDS such as geographical remoteness, cropping patterns, limited statistical infrastructure and availability of human and financial resources for the production of agricultural and rural statistics. This strategic plan will establish the path for development of sustainable statistical systems for management of agriculture and fisheries sector in the Pacific countries as per their local conditions. It will also advocate for additional targeted donor funding for Pacific SIDS.’
P-SPAFS provides a framework to bring together users and producers of statistics to ensure the data is relevant. This will improve agriculture and fisheries decisions, because they are informed by survey information.
P-SPAFS was initiated in 2015 through a regional meeting of more than 50 agricultural statisticians and planners from 14 Pacific islands. It was then developed under the guidance of a Technical Working Group consisting of representatives from agriculture, forestry, fisheries and statistics from 6 Pacific states; FAO and SPC.
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