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Advancing SPARS and Census for Agriculture Project in Namibia

FAO and NSA to strengthen Namibia’s Agriculture, fisheries and forestry sectors through statistical data

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in partnership with the Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA) recently hosted  an inception workshop to advance two critical initiatives: the development of the Strategic Plan for Agricultural and Rural Statistics (SPARS) and the creation of the Census for Agriculture project document. The workshop brought together key stakeholders, experts, and government officials to chart the course for strengthening agricultural data systems and bolstering the agricultural sector’s growth in Namibia.

Fostering Sustainable Agriculture through SPARS

SPARS, complemented by the Census for Agriculture, aims to enhance the quality and availability of agricultural data, playing a pivotal role in evidence-based decision-making and agricultural policy formulation. By building capacity and aligning data collection methodologies, SPARS is set to empower Namibia’s agricultural sector with the essential information required to tackle various challenges, including food insecurity, climate change, and sustainable agricultural development.

Highlighting the importance of statistical data in contributing to Namibia’s development, in particular the development of its agriculture sector, Alex Shimuafeni, NSA Statistician General and CEO, stated, “NSA recognizes the vital importance of agriculture and rural development in shaping the future of our nation. Thus, it is imperative that in order to make informed decisions and effectively develop rural areas and agriculture sectors, we must emphasize the need for reliable, comprehensive, and up to date statistical data.”

During the workshop, participants engaged in intensive discussions and knowledge-sharing sessions to shape the
SPARS framework. They emphasized the importance of integrating technology and innovative data collection
techniques to capture accurate and up-to-date information across the agricultural value chain. SPARS is envisioned to foster a data-driven approach to address agricultural challenges while promoting rural development and inclusivity.

Empowering Agriculture through the Census for Agriculture

The Census for Agriculture project holds equal significance, as it seeks to conduct a comprehensive assessment of
Namibia’s agricultural landscape. Through an extensive data collection exercise, the census aims to gather comprehensive information about agricultural practices, land usage, livestock, crop production, and related
socioeconomic factors. This detailed analysis will provide valuable insights into the current state of agriculture in
Namibia and serve as a basis for designing effective agricultural policies and development strategies.

Speaking on behalf of FAO, Ferdinard Mwapopi, Assistant FAO Representative (Programmes), underscored the crucial role that agricultural censuses play in shaping agricultural development, policy formulation, and overall food security in a country.

“Censuses of Agriculture are key building blocks of good agricultural statistics systems as they provide the framework to develop agriculture surveys and benchmark their results. Therefore, it is an opportune time, as Namibia will soon conduct her Population and Housing Census, which will provide valuable information on the country’s population. The Population and Housing Census will help identify Namibian households involved in agriculture, as it includes a small module in that regard but which will be expanded on in the Agriculture Census,” Mwapopi noted.

Building Partnerships and Collaboration

The workshop served as a platform for fostering partnerships and collaboration among various stakeholders, including government agencies, non-governmental organizations, research institutions, and development partners. These partnerships are crucial in ensuring the success of both SPARS and the Census for Agriculture initiatives, as they contribute their expertise, resources, and support.

The Executive Director (ED) of the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform (MAWLR), Ndiyakupi
Nghituwamhata, in a speech delivered on her behalf by Stephanus Sanda, MAWLR Chief Statistician, noted the
importance of partnerships in ensuring that existing data gaps in the agriculture sector are addressed.

“MAWLR recognises that effective partnership, collaboration and coordination is key in the development and
production of quality statistics. Just last year, MAWLR and NSA entered into a MoU on agriculture, water and land statistics. This MoU shall enable the Ministry and NSA to collaborate on the undertaking of the Census for Agriculture, annual agricultural surveys and other specialised agricultural surveys to fill data gaps experienced since the last undertaking of these national exercises,” said the ED.