By Okeoghene Akubuike
Prince Clem Agba, Minister of State for Budget and National Planning has called for reliable agriculture-related data for effective policy formulation and strategies.
Agba made the call at the 2022 African Statistics Day Celebration (User/Producer Dialogue) held at the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in Abuja on Friday.
He said the need for reliable agricultural data could not be overemphasised because it would improve information on food security and inform government’s policies and strategies to tackle poverty.
“Statistics, using modern methods and innovative technology is the right way to go if Nigeria and the African continent are to achieve their lofty development plans and strategies.
“NBS has taken up the challenge of using modern methods to produce the right agricultural data the country needs and the government will continue to provide the required support,’’ he said.
The minister stressed that national statistical system must be properly financed; the development of statistical skills and expertise must be supported, and access to new tools in technology must be provided.
Agba said he would redouble efforts to support the NBS and the Nigerian statistical system to continue to innovate and produce more useful information that informs government, businesses, research communities and the public.
The minister assured also that statistics by the NBS would not be tampered with.
“The purpose of government is to deliver the greatest good to the greatest number of people. So if the statistics show that there are issues, we need to use them as they are.
“That is one of the reasons we decided to carry out the Multidimensional Poverty Index Survey. We have to reduce poverty in a sustainable way that will promote growth.
“Once you understand who is poor; to what extent they are poor; why they are poor and the type of poverty, then you will be able to address issues,’’ he said.
In his remarks, the Statistician-General of the Federation, Prince Semiu Adeniran, said the theme for this year’s celebration was apt because of the peculiar times the country and Africa were presently in.
“Over the past six months, the issue of food security and nutrition has been a topical issue in many countries across Africa, most especially since the start of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
“The conflict has had significant impact on food supply on Africa which gets more than 40 per cent of its wheat and corn from Ukraine.
“In Nigeria, a major importer of grains from Ukraine, the situation is further exacerbated by security challenges and floods that have affected farming activities across the country.
“Producing and using the right agriculture statistics to inform policies and interventions that boost output, improve nutrition and food security in Africa is of high priority and a matter of urgent national importance,’’ he said.
Adeniran stressed that as daunting as the challenge of tackling nutrition and food insecurity was, equally daunting was the production of agriculture data required to underpin it.
He said the collection process of agriculture data was one of the most tedious among the various types of data collected by the NBS.
Adeniran said it was also one of the most expensive data collection exercises due to the extensive nature of the agriculture sector and the kind of manpower and time required to adequately cover it.
“Modern methods and innovations are required to support and ease the production of agriculture data in Nigeria and across Africa. I am glad to say that in NBS, we have already started this process,’’ he said.
In his remarks, Dr Ebuh Godday, President, Nigerian Statistical Association, said the impact of the Russian-Ukraine crisis on food crises in Africa underscored the relevance of the theme in building the Africa of Africans’ dreams.
“It is pertinent to mention that if Nigeria, as a nation, can feed its citizens, the bulk of its challenges will be drastically minimised if not completely eradicated,’’ he said.
The theme of the celebration is: “Strengthening data systems by modernising the production and use of agricultural statistics: Informing policies with a view to improving resilience in agriculture, nutrition and food security in Africa.’’ (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Alli Hakeem