No 6
ROME, 1995


In many countries the agricultural census is organized only once in ten years, and a permanent census organization does not exist. The agricultural census, being a major operation, involves different national ministries or agencies, and considerable financial and personnel resources. An inter-ministerial committee is considered essential to guide and coordinate all census activities.

The purpose of this chapter is to provide a broad outline of the composition of the committee, a tentative description of its responsibilities, and its possible extension to provincial and lower levels. Details in this respect will vary greatly from country to country, depending also whether a committee for statistics already exists in the country.

Composition of the committee

2.1 The establishment of a committee to act as a steering group is essential for the successful implementation of the census. This committee may be known as the "Agricultural Census Steering Committee". It has to be established well ahead of time, invested with the necessary authority, provided with material support and staffed with high-level personnel. It should be an organ created by the regulatory text establishing the census. It should start functioning at least two years ahead of the actual operations of the field work of the census and cease to function after the dissemination of the final census report.

2.2 While the composition of the committee would depend on the head of the census office, as a general rule all the various aspects of the operation should be represented. This Committee should consist of representatives from all important federal government agencies directly or indirectly concerned with census taking or are possible users of census results, as well as non-governmental organizations interested in the census. Ministries responsible for agriculture, cooperation and district administrations, the Ministry of Finance or Budget, and the statistical agencies entrusted with the task of carrying out the census. Farmers' organizations, industry and trade associations particularly concerned with agricultural products, should also be represented on the committee. It is essential that the committee members be high-ranking officials who are in a position to take decisions and direct the census operation. Its chairperson could be the chief of the agriculture department or Central Bureau of Statistics with the national agricultural census coordinator acting as secretary to facilitate coordination among members. The number of members will vary depending on the scope and coverage of the census, but care should be taken that the group is not so large as to become unmanageable. An example of an Agricultural Census Committee is given in frame 2.1.

Main responsibilities and functions

  • Chairmanship: State Institute of Statistics (SIS)
  • Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs
  • Ministry of Forestry
  • Ministry of Interior
  • State Planning Organization
  • General Directorate of Soil and Agricultural Reform
  • National Productivity Centre
  • General Directorate of Soil Products Office
  • Scientific and Technical Research Council of Turkey
  • Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of UN
  • Union of Turkish Chamber of Agriculture
  • Turkish Milk Industry
  • Meat and Fish Industry
  • Meat and Fish Organization
  • General Commandership of Cartography
  • General Directorate of Title Deeds and Cadaster
  • General Directorate of Protection and Control
  • Ziraat Bank of Turkish Republic
  • Ankara University, Faculty of Agriculture
  • Ankara University, Faculty of Veterinary
  • Middle East Technical University, Departments of Statistics and Economics
  • Hacettepe University, Departments of Statistics and Economics
  • Gazi University, Departments of Statistics and Economics

Source:General Agricultural Census results of the agricultural holdings (households) survey, State Institute of Statistics, Prime Ministry, Republic of Turkey, 1991

Frame 2.1 Example of Census Committee: Composition of the Committee for the Census of Agriculture in Turkey (1991)

2.3 The main responsibilities and functions of the committee would depend on the particular purpose of its creation. Generally, the main responsibility would be the overall planning and direction of the census, subject to review by the head of the statistical office. It is expected that the committee would evaluate past censuses and study recommendations made to solve problems encountered. The committee would also liaise with other agenciesinvolved in agriculture or which may be called upon to participate in the operation. The committee would approve the census workplan, scope and coverage, methodology, questionnaires, manuals, budgetary and personnel requirements, plans for the publicity campaign, logistical needs, pre-test and pilot censuses, post-enumeration survey plans, tabulation plan, data processing and data dissemination. Meetings should be held at least once every three months and should follow a well-defined agenda. Members should be given sufficient time to study the meeting documentation in advance.

Establishment of sub-committees and working groups

2.4 Due to the broad functions and activities of the Steering Committee, it may be appropriate to establish sub-committees. Sub-committees and working groups may be created, each under the area of coordination or supervision of a member of the Steering Committee. Sub-committees can be formed to advise on technical matters (technical sub-committee) such as concepts and definitions, methodological aspects, questionnaire design, data processing, etc., or on more general aspects of the census operation such as communications, transportation, logistics, recruitment, training, publicity, data dissemination, etc. These sub-committees would normally consist of a small group of subject matter specialists and would report on a regular basis to the Steering Committee.

Establishment of provincial committees

2.5 For administrative reasons, countries are usually divided into several administrative divisions and these divisions have their own agro-economic characteristics. In large countries it may be desirable to establish provincial census committees in broad administrative divisions. The main functions of such provincial committees would be to coordinate the census activities at the provincial level, to make recommendations for items of information specific to the province to be included in the questionnaires and to advise on provincial tabulations.

Other boards/committees

2.6 Where various agencies are called upon to participate in the census effort, coordinating boards would be necessary to effect an efficient operation. Such boards may have to be established for the field operations phase at the district administrative sub-divisions. It may also be desirable for a national coordinating board to have its local counterparts where plans from the top are filtered down to the lowest level. The national coordinating board's membership should be at the departmental level or its equivalent, because such a board should be responsible for committing the department's participation in the census operation and in ensuring that its field branches carry out the policies and plans as laid out. The local counterparts can be at the provincial level down to the lowest administrative unit. Primarily, their function is to coordinate the implementation of the policies and guidelines adopted by the national board and to provide the assistance required by the census field office. These boards would be useful in resolving boundary disputes, providing protection to the enumerators, providing transportation and communication facilities, and in publicizing the operation. An added fringe benefit to the census organization would be the sense of participation acquired by the agencies and the awareness of statistics.