Samoa's agricultural census resumes

A decade since Samoa last had its last agricultural census, it’s now back and running. Just like nearly all other countries in the Pacific region, Samoa has incomplete information about its’ agriculture sector and farmers. 

The Government of Samoa is conducting a fourth agricultural census with full coverage of the food and agriculture sector to fill in the gaps; they are beginning with the country’s rural sector. 

Officials from the Samoa Bureau of Statistics (S.B.S.) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (M.A.F.) have been out and about in rural residences interviewing farmers, livestock owners and others for the Agriculture Census.

Field data collection work began on 20 June and will be complete by 1 August 

The Food and Agriculture Organization (F.A.O) of the United Nations is providing technical assistance to support planning and implementing the census. 

The budget of the F.A.O technical assistance to the Agricultural Census in Samoa is to the value of USD$285,000 (about 30% of the overall census budget in Samoa).

According to F.A.O’s Sub-Regional Coordinator for the Pacific and the Representative to Samoa, Eriko Hibi, accurate data is needed to design agricultural policy.

“It helps to attract investments needed to address the structural impact of COVID in the country and safeguard food security of people in Samoa,” Hibi added.  

“People ask why we need the Agriculture Census now in Samoa.”

A number of surveys and assessments taking place to measure COVID impacts in the Pacific are relevant to this question according to F.A.O’s perspective.

The Assistant Chief Executive Officer for the Samoa Bureau of Statistics, Edith Faaola, said: “Census enumerators are in the field visiting each household in the country to collect data on their agricultural activities,”

“Data collection includes cropping patterns, livestock numbers, use of farm inputs, farm labour, and sales of agricultural produce. Data on fishing activities are also being collected.”

A large percentage of the country’s population relies on agriculture for food security.

The agricultural census serves as a complete source of agriculture information for the country. It is undertaken every ten years and the sampling frames other in-depth surveys and assessments.  

“It provides a snapshot of the structure of the agricultural sector at a certain point of time and provides an opportunity to identify changes and trends occurring in the sector as compared to the previous Agricultural Census,” Hibi said. 

“The structural information provided by the Census helps to design and understand other surveys. It is like the mothership of all surveys.”

The F.A.O works strongly with the Government who are big supporters of this agricultural information development and working toward establishing an agricultural statistics system based on timely, reliable and regular statistics. 

Business communities and researchers are keen to access the results online.

There have also been developments in technology since the previous censuses, especially in the use of tablets for Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing.

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