Monday, 1 December 2014

Reliable agricultural statistics a challenge: World Bank

As the World Bank seeks to help Myanmar’s under-developed agricultural sector, an important stumbling block is proving to be the reliability of farming, crop and market statistics.
“The reliability and timeliness of such information is very poor in Myanmar compared to its peers in Southeast Asia,” according to a recently released World Bank report, “Myanmar: Rice Volatility and Poverty Reduction.”
“This makes its integration weaker and price volatility excessive. Myanmar does not have a rice supply-demand balance trusted by market participants,” the report highlights as being particularly important as the country prepares to enter the ASEAN Economic Community at the end of 2015.
The report expresses a belief that good statistics help reduce market uncertainty and serious price fluctuations but conflicts of information between the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation and the Ministry of Commerce undermine this; adding that the government neither produces nor publishes commodity forecasts.
U Tin Htut Oo, chairman of the National Economic and Social Advisory Council, told Mizzima on November 27, that he admits the need for reliable statistics but does not see a big difference in the statistics produced between the agriculture ministry and Food Agriculture Organisation because the FAO mostly refers to the ministry’s official statistics in their reports.  
He said that currently, the Settlement and Land Record Department under the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation is implementing a four phase research project before officially announcing Myanmar’s volume of rice production – an estimate of production, a survey on the ground, the circulation of provisional data, and finally the release of the final data sets.
“It is necessary to deliver these processes thoroughly [in order to release reliable agriculture statistics],” he said.
There is also a need to enhance the capacity of government staff, and provide sufficient budget and technical assistance for the agriculture ministry, he said.

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