No 5
(WCA 2000)
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Rome, 1995


Considerable financial and resource funding is critical for a successful census of agriculture. This chapter identifies the basic steps in the initial planning and organization of such a census. Endorsement of basic goals and objectives from cabinet ministerial level, or its equivalent, is required to ensure the commitment of resources and to provide authoritative support during the lengthy period of planning, data collection, processing, and dissemination.

Developing the census programme

2.1 The census of agriculture is but one of the data sources within a national statistical programme for food and agriculture. Countries are recommended to prepare this national programme before embarking on a census, and to view the latter as one important activity in a continuing cycle of statistical development. Such an approach will help to overcome many of the issues discussed in this chapter.

2.2 It is recommended that countries examine carefully the list of census items provided in this Programme. Such examination will not only assist in clarifying the census scope, but will indicate how the census may complement other existing data sources. Countries that have not yet established a satisfactory national statistical programme for food and agriculture should resist the temptation to widen the census scope beyond its structural boundaries.

2.3 An important issue is the establishment of a legal base for conducting the census. This may be in the form of a law, decree or other instrument, depending on the legislative procedures of the country. Census legislation is required to identify the various responsibilities of government agencies and respondents and to serve as a base for budgetary allocations. Government agencies should guarantee confidentiality of the data collected from individual respondents. This guarantee helps to obtain respondents' cooperation. Countries are thus recommended to review their legislation on data collection activities to ensure it provides a coherent legal base for a national food and agricultural statistics programme, which includes the agricultural census.


2.4 An interministerial committee should be established to be responsible for the overall advisory role in the conduct of the census. This committee could be the central coordinating body of the national food and agricultural statistics programme, or one of its subcommittees, but should in either case include representatives from producer and user agencies. Membership in such a committee involves responsibility and timeconsuming work and it is preferable to restrict membership to people who are actively concerned with the census. The committee should carry out the following activities:

  1. Determine the census scope.
  2. Periodically review progress with census operations and advise government authorities on needed steps and measures to facilitate it.
  3. Approve publication of census results.
  4. Advise on evaluating the census programme.

The census committee may carry out its functions through specific sub-committees or technical working groups.

2.5 An agency responsible for conducting the census should be designated. This agency will execute the census with assistance from other agencies under the general guidance of the censuscommittee. The organization may include support from provincial and/or district level administrations to oversee field work of supervisors and enumerators.

Statement of goals and objectives

2.6 A list of basic goals and objectives is essential in planning, collecting, processing, and disseminating the results of a census of agriculture. These goals and objectives need to be endorsed at a cabinet ministerial level or its equivalent if the census is to be guaranteed the required government support.

2.7 Realistic, broad based goals and objectives will ensure the best utilization of resources in planning and executing a census of agriculture. The statement of goals and objectives will serve to provide the parameters for committees and official bodies responsible for budgeting, planning, and implementation of the programme. The goals and objectives should include the time frame within which results are to be produced.