October 18, 2019       Matua 2 Function Room, Grand Pacific Hotel, Suva

Permanent Secretaries
Members - 2020 Fiji Agriculture Census NSC 
FAO Consultants
Other Stakeholders
Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen.

Bula vinaka and a very good morning to you all.

First, I would personally like to welcome you all to this very important event and share with you my sincere appreciation for your continuous support and your willingness to be part of this launching program.

Our presence here this morning clearly indicates how much we value and acknowledge Statistics as one of the significant component of our activities especially in areas of development plans and policy formulation.

I’m honoured by the invitation to officiate in this important event and just as excited as my fellow NSC members in realising that this launch will spearhead the preparation and awareness phase of the 2020 Fiji Agriculture Census.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Agriculture [Crop, Livestock, and Fisheries & Forest] Census is no doubt one of the significant data collection exercise undertaken throughout the world especially in developing countries where farming activities is key to sustainable livelihood. It collates important agricultural information from the farming households and holdings.

Agriculture Census in Fiji is carried out every 10 years to provide a snapshot of the structure of the agricultural sector at a certain point of time and provides an opportunity to identify changes and trends occurring in the sector as compared to previous Agriculture Censuses. 

It is globally recognized as a potential platform, providing reliable data, particularly in the absence of other data sources for monitoring the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Consequently, the 2020 Fiji Agriculture Census will provide internationally comparable information that assess Fiji’s development and identify the need for International assistance. 

Fiji, through the Ministry of Agriculture has undertaken four [4] Agriculture Censuses since 1970 with Technical assistance provided by FAO. Fiji is sincerely grateful to FAO for the continuous assistance rendered in all  the censuses  and  the improvement of Fiji Agriculture and Rural Statistics System which has been an on – going process with the Ministry.  

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Having a reliable and updated Agriculture data base is vital to inform government’s economy, support policy formulation and Development. Many Fijian families are highly dependent on agriculture [crop & livestock], fishing and forest for their livelihood. As a small island state, Fiji is vulnerable to climate change, natural disasters and economic shocks. Therefore it is imperative to have the necessary data sets that clearly identifies this occurrences and allows for a responsive development strategies based on evidence. 

Considering the high demand for Agricultural Information and the urgent need to establish a sustainable Agriculture Statistics System for Fiji, Government allocated $4.5 million to the Ministry of Agriculture to fund  preparation and conduct of 2020 Fiji Agriculture Census (FAC) from the 10th to 29th February.

Ladies and Gentlemen 

The 2020 Fiji Ag Census will be an integrated census of all 4 Agriculture Subsectors - Crop [including Growing of Sugarcane], Livestock, Fisheries and Forests.

The Census exercise allows data collection from the smallest unit such as households and ensures coverage of informal economic activities and compilation of small area data.

Preparation for the upcoming Census have been an on-going activity of the Ministry’s Statistics Unit since 2018. The Agriculture 2009 AG Census Report and the 2020 World Census of Agriculture   Guideline were used as benchmarks in designing an appropriate methodology for this exercise. The Ministry is therefore grateful and appreciates all the support from our key stakeholders – Ministry of Fisheries, Ministry of Forests, Ministry of Sugar, Fiji Bureau of Statistics, Ministry of Women, Ministry of Rural Maritime, Ministry of I Taukei Affairs, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Economy.   

Ladies and Gentlemen

The 2020 Fiji Agriculture Census is expected to cover more than 72,000 farming households compared to the 65,000 covered in 2009 Agriculture Census. These are households in the Rural Areas and part of Peri Urban areas where Agriculture activities such as crop, livestock, fisheries and forests are commonly practiced.

Core information to be captured from this national exercise through household interviews will be ensure readily available basic information for inclusive better planning across the primary sector. These  includes household composition, household particulars, farm land detail, crop farming, livestock farming, forestry, fishing, aquaculture farming, climate change impact, farming equipment and machinery, agricultural services and food security. 

To enable the Primary sector to capture all of these information during the Agriculture Census, the Ministry of Agriculture will be recruiting 430 Enumerators across the countries. They will be supervised, guided and coordinated by 123 Supervisors, and 122 Area Coordinators operating in the four geographical divisions.

Ladies and Gentlemen

It is exciting to note that, during the 2020 AG Census, officers engaged will be using the Computer- Assisted Personal Interviewing system through tablets for data collection which is a web-based form for data enumeration. 

The adoption of this new technology in the Agriculture Census will substantially improve the quality and transparency of data collected, shorten the time for data processing and early disseminate results for Census data users, especially policy formulation for decision making at national and subnational levels. 

Across the world, some countries are leading this global trend, and Fiji is now joining them. I am sure we are all very proud to be part of this revolutionary move. The Fiji Bureau of Statistics adopted this tool in the conduct of the 2017 Population Census and I believe have also considered it in their other data collection activities. 

Ladies and Gentlemen

The Ministry of Agriculture and our counterparts from other subsectors – Fisheries & Forests, are the sole producers of Primary Sector Production data. As such, there have been developments over the years to try and improve the Agriculture Statistics Systems within the Primary sector to ensure that timely and quality Agriculture data are generated for our main users. I believe that the 2020 Fiji Agriculture Census will create a good platform to spearhead this initiative and confirm the establishment of the e ’Agriculture system within Fiji’s Primary Industry.    

Ladies and Gentlemen

Government through the Ministry of Agriculture/Fisheries and Forests can only improve and change its current agricultural services, create new agriculture programs for farming assistance that best suits your need, provide specific agriculture technical advice, and reach your farm, if they are provided with truthful data during the Census. Therefore, come February 2020, it will be    ‘Your voice that will determine Your Future in Agriculture’.

Let me conclude by encouraging all who are present here today, to take ownership of the 2020 Fiji Agriculture Census, and work together to produce better results. Let us together raise our level of awareness on this very important national exercise to ensure that census information reaches our farmers and ‘No one is left behind’. 

Let's spread the word and make the 2020 Fiji Agriculture Census a monumental success!

With those words Ladies and Gentlemen, it now gives me great pleasure to launch the 2020 Fiji Agriculture Census Awareness Program

Thank you, Dhanyavad and Vinaka Vakalevu.