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Agricultural survey a step forward in data insight

William Nygren / Khmer Times Share:
FAO Country Representative Alexandre Huynh delivering his welcoming remarks at the formal release of the Cambodia Inter-Censal Agriculture Survey 2019 Report. KT/Chor Sokunthea

Vital information gathered on the state of Cambodia’s farming sector in aid of future policy formation was highlighted yesterday at an event in the capital.

The formal release of the Cambodia Inter-Censal Agriculture Survey 2019 Report (CIAS 2019) was held yesterday at the Phnom Penh Hotel.

The event marked the release of the nation’s first comprehensive agricultural survey since 2013’s Cambodia Agriculture Census.  It was jointly organised by the National Institute of Statistics of the Ministry of Planning and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), with technical support from the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), under the scope of the “AGRISurvey”, a multi-year programme funded by the Royal Government of Cambodia, the United States Agency for International Development, the FAO and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Welcoming remarks were delivered by Alexandre Huynh, the FAO Representative in Cambodia.  In his remarks, Huynh stated that the importance of CIAS 2019 would lie in its contribution to the implementation of the Agricultural Sector Strategic Development Plan and the Agriculture Sector Master Plan in helping monitor progress towards the achievement of Cambodia’s sustainable development goals.

Huynh noted that the scarcity of high-quality and timely agricultural data has been a key constraint to Cambodia in the effective planning, financing and implementation of agricultural development strategies.

The innovative approach taken to this survey is one of its key success factors according to Huynh.  Data was collected on 400 tablet devices by National Institute of Statistics (NIS) and MAFF staff who utilised computer-assisted personal interviewing (CAPI) to gather information with a previously unavailable level of accuracy and efficiency. This aspect of the project’s methodology will provide a legacy to other survey efforts undertaken by Cambodian ministries in the future as what was learned on CAPI data collection, quality-control procedures and survey management are shared.

In 2021, the AGRISurvey will be incorporated into the “50×2030 Initiative”, which is a 10-year global programme, led by the World Bank (WB), the FAO and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). This Initiative aims to fill the agricultural data gap in 50 low and lower-middle income countries by the year 2030. Cambodia is the first country to have joined the initiative in Asia.

Huynh also cited that while the survey data was collected prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, and as such will not provide a picture of its effects on the agricultural sector, the data culled from CIAS 2019 will provide a detailed baseline for future studies on the pandemic’s ravages on the sector and its market systems.

Veena Reddy, mission director of USAID/Cambodia, stressed the value that USAID places on the collection and use of high-quality data for policy formation, programme planning and evaluation.

She noted that the CIAS 2019 will serve as a vital source of agriculture data to USAID and other nongovernmental organisations and partners in guiding their programming and the measurement of the impact of their collective investments in Cambodia’s agriculture sector.

Secretary of State for the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Chan Chesda, spoke on the significance of the survey, saying it has provided in-depth information on those who make their living from farming, animal husbandry, aquaculture and fishing, as well as noting its pertinent analysis of the agri-economy.  He also noted the project’s contribution to the capability-building of ministry officials in terms of technical experience and know-how.

Minister of Planning Chhay Than stated that the report is a statistics achievement for the Kingdom’s agricultural sector, as it provides a wide range of data points invaluable in meeting local and international market demand. He also cited the importance of the data and information collected in support of the sector meeting its sustainable development goals by 2030.

The 2019 census reports that 73 percent of the Cambodian families make their living from agricultural activities, compared with the 85 percent found by the 2013 census. The agriculture sector’s contribution to the Kingdom’s gross domestic product increased by 4 percent over that period.

 

 

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