Cambodia prepares for 2021 Cambodia Agriculture Survey and signs 50x2030 program plan

Cambodia has made two important strides towards improving agricultural and rural data collection under the 50x2030 Initiative to Close the Agricultural Data Gap. First, ahead of nationwide data collection for the 2021 Cambodia Agriculture Survey (CAS), the country conducted a 9-day Training of Trainers to boost the understanding and expertise of 92 officials from the National Institute of Statistics (NIS) of the Ministry of Planning (MoP) and from the Department of Planning and Statistics (DPS) of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) on survey implementation procedures. Second, Cambodia recently became the first country to sign their 50x2030 Program Implementation Plan.

This first training was jointly organized by MoP and MAFF, with technical support from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).  Led by technical experts from NIS and FAO, the training was designed to equip trainees with technical knowledge and use of technologies for data collection with tablets (Computer-Assisted Personal Interviews (CAPI)), recognized as an effective paperless data collection method.

One of the participants, Meas Sotheavy, Deputy Director of DPS/MAFF said that the training on survey implementation is very important for her and her team as trainers and as field supervisors.

“Over the course of eight days, we have been trained on the survey procedures, how to use the tablet, as well as the survey questionnaires. What is special for this year, the questionnaire is extended to cover economic activities of the agriculture households we sampled.”

In Cambodia, the main challenges relating to agricultural statistics has been the lack of available data across the agriculture sector. The country has been relying on administrative agriculture data from the MAFF. However, the coverage of the agriculture sector is limited to high-value crops. The lack of timely and relevant data covering contributions to the agriculture sector from a wide range of crop types, livestock and poultry, aquaculture, fishing industries, and household labor have resulted in difficulties in assessing agricultural policy impact.

“The new 50x2030 Programme also allows our Ministry (MAFF) to have up-to-date agricultural data, information, and evidence, which are critically important for our work in policy and intervention programme development,” continued Sotheavy.

The trainees are to become trainers, tasked with transferring knowledge to more than 300 field enumerators across 25 provinces of Cambodia as they prepare for data collection. The 92 core trainers will also be serving as data and field supervisors during the data collection stage. Despite the slight delay due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and transition from the old AGRISurvey programme to the new 50x2030 Initiative, data collection for the CAS 2021 is expected to start in December 2021. 

The 50x2030 Program Implementation Plan is a document that outlines the full set of activities that a country will undertake under the 50x2030 Initiative, including financial commitments and monitoring plans; its signing shows a strong commitment from the Royal Government of Cambodia to build national statistical capacity, and to establish an efficient and durable national agricultural data collection system.

Under 50x2030, the World Bank, FAO and the International Fund for Agricultural Development will share technical and operational expertise with NIS and MAFF until the end of the support in 2026. This includes the CAS survey processes and data collection tools that will permit Cambodia to gather data to inform the calculation of SDG 2 indicators and to promote efficient innovative approaches. A total of five survey rounds will be conducted within between now and 2026 and each survey will use a Core Module instrument based on the 50x2030 template and adapted to the local Cambodian context, plus one of the three Rotating Modules (Income, Labor and Productivity (ILP), Machinery, Equipment and Assets (MEA) and/or Production Methods and Environment (PME).

The opening ceremony of this Training of Trainers for the CAS 2021 took place on the 2 November 2021, and was presided over by H.E. Chhay Than, Senior Minister and Minister of MoP, who was joined by keynote speakers including H.E. Hang Lina, Director General of NIS and Antonio Schiavone, FAO Representative a.i. in Cambodia.

Mr. Schiavone emphasized that, “one of the 50x2030 Initiative objectives in Cambodia is precisely to ensure that MAFF is getting the information needed to make the right decisions.” He also highlighted the importance of the Initiative in the current context, as Cambodia is gearing up for the post-COVID era and may soon need agricultural data (among others) for the design of related resilience and relief policies.

H.E. Chhay Than, Senior Minister and Minister of the MoP, thanked FAO and other development partners for their successful cooperation with the Royal Government of Cambodia and for their continued technical and financial support. He commended the significant progress on the annual CAS program, which ensured quality, timely, efficiency of agriculture data for all users.

(Photo credit: Ly Sophanith, NIS/Ministry of Planning)