FAO, World Bank Provide Update on Data-Smart Agriculture Initiative

Ana Maria Lebada

On the margins of the 50th session of the UN Statistical Commission, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) and the World Bank provided an update on the 50 x 2030 Initiative on Data-Smart Agriculture. The Initiative aims to address key data gaps for the implementation of SDG 2 (end hunger) by implementing agricultural and integrated household-agricultural survey programs in 50 low and middle income countries to promote evidence-based decision-making.
Even though almost US$ 240 billion are invested in the agriculture sector of low and middle-income countries, the majority of recipient countries have not conducted any regular agricultural surveys or censuses over the last 15 years. The absence of sound, household-level data on agriculture makes it difficult to prioritize investments in agriculture to end hunger and achieve other targets of SDG 2 and to evaluate which investments have been effective. Launched in September 2018, the 50 x 2030 Initiative aims to fill this gap by bringing key stakeholders and donors together in a concerted effort to improve agricultural data availability in lower and middle income countries. Key partners include FAO, the World Bank, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Australia, Germany, Italy, the US, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
During a side event held on 6 March 2019, on the margins of the 50th session of the UN Statistical Commission, José Rosero Moncayo, Director of the FAO Statistics Division, and Haishan Fu, Director of the Development Data Group, and representatives of other partners provided a briefing on the Initiative. They explained that the 50 x 2030 Initiative offers two survey models that address SDG 2 data needs and build national data systems: countries can choose to implement either an agricultural survey program or an integrated agricultural and rural survey program, depending on their respective needs, wishes, capacity, and potential for technical and financial take-over. FAO will lead all data-production activities.
The Agricultural Survey Model is designed to provide complete, fully representative data on agriculture from both household and non-household (commercial) farms over a 10-year cycle. It has a modular approach that joins an annual core module and several periodic rotating modules that cover vital socioeconomic and environmental variables. Its flexible modular approach aims to enable a survey system that can respond to emerging demands at regional, national, or international levels.
The Integrated Agricultural and Rural Survey Model will combine a farm-based agricultural survey program with a household-based rural socioeconomic survey program. As with the agricultural model, the integrated model collects data from a representative sample of all agricultural enterprises on production, revenues, farm practices and other aspects of agricultural production. Building on that, the integrated model incorporates surveys of rural households that cover socioeconomic and demographic topics like income, poverty, employment, and food security.
The 50 x 2030 Initiative further aims to: build the capacity and motivation of decision makers to use the data collected; foster greater alignment between data producers and the needs of the decision makers; and improve data sharing and open data. Data-use activities will be designed and implemented by IFAD.
The 50 x 2030 Initiative will also prioritize methodological research for agricultural and rural surveys to produce more efficient and cost-effective tools, with the World Bank’s Center for Development Data (C4D2) having the lead on methods development.
Since the launch of the Initiative on the margins of the UN General Assembly high-level week in September 2018, a Steering Committee and a multi-donor trust fund were established, several donors have pledged contributions, and several multilateral organizations committed to support countries to fill financial gaps. The Initiative is expected to become operational in July 2019.
The 50 x 2030 Initiative for Data-Smart Agriculture is a multi-stakeholder partnership that is part of the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data. The 50th session of the UN Statistical Commission took place from 4-8 March 2019, at the UN Headquarters in New York, US.

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