Strengthening the Agricultural Statistics System

Xenin Kansichi 2014

The figure shows a newly developed and implemented SMS based data transfer system for the AMIS. Previously market prices were collected using a paper based system in which data was transferred to the AESU via telephone.

IFPRI has been working closely with the National Statics Office (NSO) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (MoAFS) to strengthen agricultural statistics in Malawi. At the national level, the "Support to Agricultural Statistics in Malawi" program (AgStats) helped establish a functional Agricultural Statistics Forum (ASF) that brings together different stakeholders that generate national level agricultural statistics and helped develop a strategic master plan (SMP) for the agricultural statistics sub-sector. The strategic plan was developed to improve integration, coordination, harmonization, and implementation of agricultural statistics in Malawi. It is expected that it will facilitate improvements in the quality, standards, accuracy, reliability, timely release, and accessibility of agricultural statistics. But most importantly it is envisioned that the SMP will guide different partners to properly direct their investments and minimize duplication of efforts and underinvestment for the identified strategic focus areas.

In addition, AgStats helped develop an SMS-based data transfer and storage system for the Agricultural Market Information Survey (AMIS) with the Agro-Economic Surveys Unit (AESU) of the MoAFS Statistics Unit. This system replaces a paper-based system of field market price data collection and a telephone system of consolidation of the data, thus improving accuracy and timeliness (see AMIS system diagram). The second phase of this initiative involves investing in the establishment of a secure server room for the AESU to ensure data safety. The third phase involved training of field-based enumerators, AESU staff and some ADD staff in use of the new SMS-based data transfer system for AMIS. This last phase will also include a data archiving workshop to ensure that all existing data becomes part of the automated system. The vision is that in the future all national agricultural systems including the APES will use emerging low cost ICT solutions to collect, transfer and store data. With the establishment of the data storage system at the AESU and the possibility of potential investors looking to improve the generation of all statistics in Malawi we hope this vision will soon be a reality.

The SMP plus other reports for all activities of the AgStat project are available online (see links below). Hard copies are also available from the Statistics Unit in MoAFS and IFPRI’s MaSSP office in Area 14.  The official launch of the SMP is planned for later in 2014.