FAO food census aims to eradicate hunger

By staff writer

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Food security Agriculture Fao

An FAO agricultural census covering 2006 to 2015 could help to
eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.

The UN Organisation plans to gather socio-economic data on community issues in addition to conventional structural data concerning agriculture.

Such information will help explain how changes in the agricultural sector affect household food security. This will provide indications on progress towards achieving the first goal of the Millennium: eradicating extreme poverty and hunger.

World hunger remains a bitter issue. At the 1996 World Food Summit leaders from 186 countries pledged to halve world hunger by 2015, but a decade on, there are 18 million more hungry people. Nearly a billion people are without sufficient food, and at current rates it will take 120 years to halve the hungry.

But the FAO, which has come under mounting criticism for being inefficient and ineffective, is nonetheless hopeful that the census will be a catalyst to change. Community-level information will also be gathered.

"Examples of community-level data under consideration are: whether the community is prone to natural disasters; the availability of services such as roads, electricity, health facilities and schools; markets and agricultural input suppliers, as well as the existence of farmers organizations, are also considered,"​ said Hiek Som, chief of FAO surveys and statistical development service.

Issues such as soil degradation, irrigation by crop type, method and sources of irrigation, agricultural practices and services and household food security are included for the first time. Information on the use of mineral fertilizers and pesticides and forests will help governments keep a close watch on environmental issues.

The new round of agricultural censuses is the ninth in a decennial programme, begun in 1930. After reviewing past experiences, it has been redesigned to reduce cost while, at the same time, allowing countries to collect a wider range of data.

Previous agricultural census programmes have been successful, according to FAO, but countries faced problems because of the increasing demands for data, the high costs of census taking, limited national budgets for statistics and the complexity of many census topics.

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