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St. Vincent and the Grenadines poised to launch first agricultural census in more than 20 years

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(Food and Agriculture Organization Press Release) The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is providing technical assistance and support to the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the preparation and execution of an Agriculture Census; the first to be done by the Ministry of Agriculture in 22 years.

According to Maxime Luciene, FAO Statistics Officer for the Caribbean, “The agriculture census is a tool for collecting, processing and disseminating data on the structure of agriculture, and will cover the whole country taking into account the voice of every farmer”. The data collected will provide a definitive statistical picture the agricultural sector in St. Vincent and the Grenadines; which will be used by the public, researchers, farmers and policy-makers to make informed-decisions. It is also expected that the census will be a valuable source of data to develop and monitor food and nutrition security policies and investments in the agricultural sector. Additionally, it will serve as the starting point to establish an integrated agricultural statistics system that will include regular agricultural sample surveys, administrative data and other sources.

Agriculture is a major economic pillar in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and over the last five years, its average contribution to the island’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and to the labour force stood at 6% and 15% respectively. Given its importance and the commitment for growth in the traditional crop sectors, the reduction of poverty, creation of job opportunities and the improved livelihood of farmers proved to be some of the main key drivers for the Ministry of Agriculture’s request for FAO’s technical assistance to prepare the new agriculture census.

Debbie Daniel, Agriculture Planning Officer at the Ministry of Agriculture and the focal point on the initiative, stated that the ministry would continue to conduct consultations with the public to ensure the implementation of the census successfully captures the information required for decision-making. She stressed that, “Some of the areas of interest includes changing agricultural landscape, the impact of the vagaries of climate change and natural disasters, and the integration of technological advancement to sustain food production, food security, and sustainable land use and foster commercialization of the sector”.

Renata Clarke, Subregional Coordinator at FAO stated that the organisation provides support and guidance to countries to carry out national agricultural censuses. The data collected provides a snapshot of the state of a country’s agricultural sector – from size of holdings, land tenure, land use, area harvested, irrigation, livestock, labour and other agricultural inputs.

“This data is an integral part of effective planning for sustainable agriculture. In the case of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, our technical assistance and support with this census demonstrates our commitment to provide on-going assistance to the island in their continuous efforts to rebuild the agriculture sector following its devastation caused by the eruption of La Soufrière volcano in April 2021”.

With the new census in place, it is anticipated that the farm registry will be updated automatically, sampling frame for crop and livestock production surveys will be produced, and baseline data on farmers’ livelihood will be collected. Furthermore, the census will serve as a benchmark for updating the production forecasting models that allow the Ministry to project the supply and demand data that feeds the existing National Agriculture Marketing Information System (NAMIS). The long-term development objective of the project is to establish a flow of reliable and timely data and information on agriculture to link national supply of agricultural products to the demand of local and international markets.

For more information:

Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Rural Transformation, Industry and Labour, St Vincent and the Grenadines office.agriculture@mail.gov.vc

OR

Coleen Phillips, FAO National Correspondent, St. Vincent and the Grenadines E-mail: Phyllis.phillips@fao.org

Marquita Sugrim, FAO National Communications Consultant, FAO Subregional Office for the Caribbean E-mail: marquitajuanne.sugrim@fao.org, + 1 246 426 7110

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