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Agriculture Census 2019: Big insights and new dynamics

Published : Thursday, 13 June, 2019 at 12:00 AM  Count : 166
Md Azgar Ali

Md Azgar Ali

Md Azgar Ali

Agriculture Census is a special nitty-gritty of Bangladesh. For conducting the 6th agriculture census 2019- Secretary, Statistics and Information Division (SID), Ministry of Planning as chief coordinator and Director General, Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), are the national coordinator. Moreover, 3 additional national census coordinators, 11 divisional coordinators, 138 district coordinators, 2,600 zonal Officers,24,700 supervisors and 1,50,000  enumerators will be engaged across the country.

However calamity it might be took place appear before them. Bangladesh is self sufficient in food production. It is currently fourth in world the production of rice, 3rd in inland open water capture production, 5th in world aquaculture production, 4th in tilapia production and 3 rd in Asia. Today Bangladesh is self sufficient in food production.

It is currently fourth in world the production of rice, 3rd in world inland open water capture production, 5th in world aquaculture production, 4th in tilapia production in the world and 3 rd in Asia. It feeds about 163 million people and the surplus agricultural produce is exported.  Bangladesh now produces 34.7 million metric ton rice per year which was only 9 million metric ton in 1971.

Bangladesh is a country with distinct agricultural and rural significance. Its economy is primarily dependent on agriculture. Agriculture sector shares about 14.23% of GDP at constant price and it absorbs 41% of the labour force. It is widely admitted that agriculture covers crops, livestock, fishery, environment and forestry. This is the consonance with the need to address the development and the problems concerning the overall food sector, involving different ministries and departments dealing with inputs, resources, production and distribution of food commodities. In this context, we must thank the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) which has taken the initiative to conduct decennial periodicity of censuses such as this one to deliberate on the subject of Agriculture (Crop, Fishery and Livestock) Census 2019 that is of vital and crucial concern for every citizen of Bangladesh.

Censuses are conducted in many parts of the world for many purposes. However, with a view to improving the quality of census data and widening the scope of agriculture including crops, fishery and livestock data, Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) has been introducing modifications according to advices from FAO and other partner organizations from time to time.

The First World Agricultural Census was conceived in 1924 by the International Institute of Agriculture (IIA), Rome, which persuaded the member countries to carry out the agricultural census of comparable and uniform pattern. During the then Pakistan period, the first agricultural census was held in 1960 in Bangladesh.

After the independent of Bangladesh, four Agriculture censuses took place in 1977, 1983-84, 1996 and 2008. The counting of sixth agricultural census will be done from 9th June to 20th June, 2019 throughout the country. It is important to note that the Statistics Acts, 2013 bestowed upon BBS with the authority and responsibility of collection, compilation, analysis and dissemination of all types of social, economic and agricultural statistics.

Keeping in mind to ensure country's food security, the agricultural statistics system as a whole is a living foundation. It has been made mandatory that the cooperation should not only be extended by the government organizations but also by the private sectors and individuals. Bangladesh agriculture (crop, fishery and livestock) census data have a degree of reliability and no wonder the census is reorganized as one among the well-planned censuses of the world.  
An agriculture census is a statistical operation for collecting, processing and disseminating data on the structure of agriculture, covering the whole part of the country. Typical structural data like size of holdings, land tenure, land use, crop area harvested, irrigation, number of livestock, labour force and other agricultural inputs.

In an agricultural census, data are collected directly from agricultural holdings, but some community-level data may also be collected. Scope and coverage of the 6th round census of agriculture has been set broadly to cover not only crop and livestock production activities, but also fisheries production activities, as well as other agriculture related activities.
In recent years, increasing efforts have been made towards the better integration of statistical activities. Integration, in a statistical sense, means that each statistical collection is carried out, not in isolation, but as a component of the national statistics system. In an integrated agricultural statistics system, the census of agriculture provides certain types of data on food and agriculture needed for decision-making in food, agriculture and rural development. The data requirements on food and agriculture in an integrated statistics system, are extensive that include data on the structure of agricultural holdings, agricultural production, farm management, food consumption, household income and expenditure, labour force, and agricultural prices. These data could come from agricultural censuses and agricultural surveys.

An integrated agricultural statistics system involves a multi-year programme of statistical activities which provides all the required data. Planning and implementing an integrated agricultural statistics system requires an efficient organization. The national statistics office BBS is responsible for the agricultural census, whereas the ongoing agricultural production surveys are carried out by some other relevant organizations, which are Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE), Department of Food, Department of Livestock and Department of Fisheries. In this context, establishing coordination among these various organizations deserves attention.

The SDG Declaration indicator 2.4.1 is defined as the percentage of 'Agricultural Area' under productive and sustainable agriculture.  A census of agriculture is one of the largest national statistical collections and it is used as a data source for monitoring the SDGs that is taken into consideration in the census planning and design. Agricultural censuses are undertaken in every ten years that provides a good basis for monitoring the SDGs over time. Achieving sustainable development, the economic growth with a focus on combating poverty has become the key development goal for Bangladesh, as reflected in the SDGs and, in particular, Goal-1 and 2. The agricultural census helps to understand better the causes of poverty and provide baseline data for monitoring poverty alleviation programmes.
The agricultural census addresses food access, food supply, food availability, food security and monitoring system of the country. Goal 5 and 10 of the SDGs acknowledge the promotion of gender equality and empowerment of women as key elements in advancing social and economic progress. The agricultural census has an important role to play in providing gender data related to agriculture to help monitor the progress towards achieving gender equality goals. Efforts have been made to bring a greater gender perspective in the agriculture census to be held in 2019 to address these issues.

The agricultural census can be an important tool for studying the social and cultural patterns of agricultural and rural development as they relate to women, the distribution of agricultural work within households, and the interactions between different household members in the management. For example, if women tend to be responsible for managing livestock, the census would reflect data on the number of women engaged in this sector, their demographic characteristics, main occupation, the time they spend in work on and off the holding, and the type of livestock they manage.  In an effective planning and policy-making issue the agricultural census data can be used for in-depth agricultural research in support of planning and policy-making, involving the use of specialized statistical methods such as correlation and regression analysis.

The agricultural census can provide reliable current data relating to crop and livestock production for the census year, and this can be useful as a benchmark for improving current crop and livestock statistics.  An agricultural census provides detailed structural data for small geographic areas, making it an ideal source of baseline data. Besides, providing data for government planning and policy-making, an agricultural census is also a valuable source of data for the private sector. For a private organization the data can be used for commercial purposes. Such as, a food processing company could use agricultural data on the number of growers and areas for specific crops in each district to identify suitable sites for its processing plants.
An input supplier could use census data for each crop by districts to find better market opportunities. Farm machinery suppliers could use data on the area of each type of crop grown and the number of growers to assess the potential demand for their products.  The census dates are counting down.

The 1,50,000 enumerators to be deployed by the BBS will go from house to house and will collect household information. Everyone should help them when they visit the households. Each person should provide detail information to the enumerators. There is no fear of using these data in a income tax statement of an individual by the data collectors. The information provided is strictly confidential. Let us give information to the agricultural census and build a prosperous Bangladesh.

The writer is an Organizing Secretary, Bangladesh Statistical Association

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