USD15 M USAID funded pact to spark ‘new era’ in Africa agricultural data collection

Two countries in Sub-Saharan Africa will be among those that are to pilot a USD 15 million agreement between the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and FAO aimed at boosting the capacity of developing countries to track key agricultural data -information that is essential to good policymaking and that will help track progress toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The USAID donation will cover the first phase of an FAO-led project that will run from 2016 to 2021.
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, 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.

USAID is very pleased to have the opportunity to collaborate with the FAO on this important endeavor that will help build sustainable agricultural and food systems,” said Beth Dunford, Assistant to the Administrator for USAID’s Bureau for Food Security and Deputy Coordinator for Development for the U.S. Government’s Feed the Future initiative.

Dunford said 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. “Our work with FAO under the Feed the Future initiative builds on years of success and lessons learned, and is essential to bring about the types of data systems to support the more catalytic investments needed to achieve a food-secure world by 2030” she added.
On his part, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said the decades to come, humanity will need to produce more food for a growing population using natural resources such as water, land and biodiversity in a sustainable way – while coping with the challenges imposed by climate change.

“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.
In addition to better and more detailed data, AGRIS will also promote the integration of disparate data sources, improve data timeliness and usability, and cut data collection costs.
The end result 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.