Conference on Data Quality for International Organizations Rome, Italy, 7 and 8 July 2008

Year published: 14/07/2008

To advocate and facilitate the flow of metadata between national and international statistical
offices, built on FAO’s more than half a century accumulated experiences in the establishment
of metadata of agricultural statistics, in 2006 FAO Statistics Division undertook the initiative
to design and distribute an “Annotated Outline for Preparing Country Report on Metadata for
National Agricultural statistics” to two groups with 16 countries each in two continents of
Asia and the Pacific and the Middle East.
To meet the challenge faced by the management of metadata at the international level, namely
how to design a framework so that it can be used by countries to collect the relevant and
succinct information in a manageable and comparable way, the Outline focuses on three main
areas: (i) the national system of agricultural statistics; (ii) major domains and selected
indicators of agricultural statistics; and (iii) major data sources for agricultural statistics. The
idea is to view the national system of agricultural statistics as a production function and to ask
what inputs, data sources, are used to produce what outputs, domains and indicators. The
framework has since been improved with the benefit of feedbacks from consultation and
discussion with countries through the application of the framework in selected pilot countries.
The original objectives for the country reports are to provide (a) materials for compiling
succinct country summary profiles as the first presentation of useful and comparable
information on countries about the current stage of development of the agricultural statistical
system; (b) a reference for assessing data quality, identifying areas of further development,
and assisting to plan, design, implement, and coordinate national and regional statistical
capacity building programs and activities; and providing advocacy tools to national statistics
offices; and (c) an input for updating FAOSTAT comprehensive metadata and data quality
framework. In this paper, we will review the experience gained from the 16 participating
countries in Asia and the Pacific region, especially, the preliminary findings from the
Compendium of Metadata for National Agricultural Statistics.
The plan ahead is to apply the FAO Metadata Framework for National Agricultural Statistics
to countries in other regions, starting with 17 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa under the
BMG-funded CountrySTAT project. This is with the recognition that relevant metadata
databases for food and agricultural statistics is one of the key components for improving data
quality and statistical development because it can provide elements for assessing data quality,