25 February 2010

Tanzania: Web Resource for Farming Data Launched

A one-stop online resource for national statistics on agriculture was launched in Dar es Salaam yesterday.

The National Bureau of Statics (NBS) partnered with the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) to establish the website. Through the initiative, it will now be easy for researchers and other information seekers to access vital data, especially on agriculture and food, on the website www.countrySTAT.org.

The Web-based information would provide improved access to better quality statistics on food and agriculture at the national and sub-national levels.

Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperation minister Stephen Wassira said in a speech read on his behalf by the ministry's director for policy and planning, Mr Emmanuel Acheyo, that the establishment of the database would help policymakers to come up with appropriate strategies.

He said policymakers, especially in the agriculture and food sector, had for many years been unable to come up with proper plans due to the lack of adequate statistics. "With the Web-based information system it will be easier for policymakers to integrate evidence based policies that would help in economic development of our country," the minister said.

Speaking during the launch, NBS project director Said Aboud said the bureau would conduct countrywide training to that would enable NBS staff to access and collect valid information during the collection of statistics.

He said NBS would also provide special data recording instruments like computers and other accessories to all district councils in the country to facilitate the process.

"We will make sure that through training, the current tendency by farmers to provide statistics through observation is done away with," Mr Aboud said. The FAO resident representative, Dr Louise Setshwaelo, lauded Tanzania for becoming the first in network of 17 African countries to launch the database.

CountrySTAT is a FAO initiative supported by a $5.6 million (Sh7.3 billion) grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The initiative aims to improve the quality, accessibility, relevance and reliability of food and agriculture statistics in 17 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

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