FAO Embarks On 10-Day Technical Mission

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has commenced a 10-day technical mission to Liberia to work with the Technical Working Group (TWG) comprising the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA), the Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services (LISGIS), and other relevant stakeholders that manage agricultural data in Liberia.

 The mission is in response to Liberia’s request for technical support from FAO for the development of the country’s National Strategic Plan aimed at improving agricultural and rural statistics in Liberia and will prioritize the launch of the Liberia Strategic Plans for Agricultural and Rural Statistics (SPARS) development process.

The technical working sessions are part of the second phase of the Global Strategy to Improve Agricultural and Rural Statistics (GSARS-II) with the intent of integrating agriculture into the National Statistical System of Liberia to ensure national data coherence and data comparability between countries.

The GSARS-II offers support in the elaboration of a Strategic Plan for the development of agricultural and rural statistics that can serve as a framework for reference when it comes to data planning on agriculture and other rural initiatives. Incorporating such a strategic national plan into the National Statistical System guarantees the development of a coordinated system of agricultural statistics that would primarily respond to the existing national information gaps.

Activities of the mission include a three-day meeting with the Technical Working Group and other stakeholders on the practical approach to developing the strategy for the development of agriculture and rural statistics and preparing a roadmap document; a two-day meeting for roadmap validation by national authorities and a public roadmap presentation as the first phase of the strategic plan process in Liberia; and a coordination meeting for preparing the assessment phase, among others.

Speaking at the opening ceremony on Tuesday at the Project Implementation Unit of the Agriculture Ministry in Gardnerville, FAO’s National Project Coordinator and Partnership Specialist Emmanuel Kapee noted the critical importance of data in making informed policy decisions, most especially as it relates to food and agriculture vis-à-vis food systems strengthening and food security.

Kapee who spoke on behalf of FAO Representative ad interim, Bintia Stephen-Tchicaya, said data scarcity is a major challenge to achieving most interventions in Liberia to the extent that the lack of data to make informed decisions is now a cliché. “The big question to all of us now is when are we going to change this narrative? I do believe the right time to change that narrative is now. There is no better time than now. That is why we need to own this process for us to be able to carry it beyond the technical level to key policymakers and decision-makers who work in our various institutions.” 

He said FAO stands ready to work with the government and people of Liberia in driving the GSAR initiatives forward.

Also speaking on behalf of the Agriculture Ministry, Jlopleh Wiagbe, the Officer in Charge of the Planning Department of the Ministry of Agriculture charged the participants to put forth their best while working with the FAO international expert backstopping Liberia to develop the national agriculture and rural statistics road map document.

“As has been said by earlier speakers before me, our need for statistics is ever wanting. And the national strategy for the development of statistics, as the LISGIS DG proxy said, has been making tremendous progress except for the agriculture sector, where various documents show that over 60-70 percent of the population finds their livelihood,” said Mr. Wiagbe.

He said the Agriculture Ministry will continue to engage all the stakeholders to ensure that the head of various entities that sent personnel to the technical training will support the technicians at the frontline, currently brainstorming to set up the road map that will set the stage for the development of agriculture and rural statistics of Liberia.

The Global Strategy to Improve Agricultural and Rural Statistics (GSARS) was developed in 2009 as a blueprint for a coordinated and long-term initiative to address the decline in the agricultural statistical systems of many developing countries. The initiative implements its activities through a partnership between FAO, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), and PARIS21, with the financial support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the European Commission

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