Improved Agriculture Survey Pilot

The Statistics, Research and Information Division (SRID) of Ghana’s Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) has been collecting data on the area under production of different crops, inputs, and yields, but the efforts devoted to data collection have dissipated over the years, thus reducing the scope and quality of information collected. For the last two years, GSSP has assisted in the development of a survey plan and strategy to improve agricultural statistics in Ghana.

In 2009, IFPRI began to assist GSS in developing a 15-year survey plan for their censuses and surveys.  One of the central points of this plan is the need for a major enhancement to Ghana’s agricultural statistics. IFPRI then began to collaborate with SRID to develop a strategy for their agricultural statistics system.

The strategy focuses on improving the Multi-Round Annual Crop and Livestock Surveys (MRACLS) conducted annually by SRID.  Increasing the number of households surveyed in each district to 400 will allow SRID to obtain reliable district level estimates, which was not possible previously.  In addition, the scope of the survey will be broadened to include tree crops, vegetables, and livestock, among other things. By introducing data collection during the dry season, SRID can also capture information on irrigated agriculture and other activities that take place outside the major season.

In 2011, SRID and GSSP designed the Ghana Agricultural Production Survey (GAPS), which is a pilot that aims to improve the quality of data currently being produced and is currently being implemented in 20 districts.  Two districts were randomly selected in each region to carry out the pilot so that the results would be nationally representative.

GAPS broadens and deepens the Multi-Round Annual Crop and Livestock Surveys (MRACLS) that MoFA currently carries out. MRACLS covers agricultural production of key crops as well as area and yield estimates, and this pilot offers a chance to experiment with potential improvements to MRACLS before they are scaled up nationwide.  The main objective of this pilot is to provide more accurate estimates of production, productivity, and agricultural practices at the district, regional, and national levels.

The potential improvements being piloted include:

  • Larger sample sizes: allows for district-level estimates.
  • More detailed data:  the revised questionnaires examine agricultural production activities—including vegetables, tree crops, livestock rearing, aquaculture, and processing—in more detail. In addition, data will be collected during the minor season on important activities such as irrigated agriculture, processing, other farm and non-farm income-generating activities, and migration.
  • Enhanced tools: GPS devices will improve field measurements and households and fields can be geographically referenced.

In addition to changes in the survey (see the revised major season and minor season questionnaires), the pilot also introduces some changes in implementation.  Previously, many data collectors had to do extension work in addition to their data collection responsibilities, which caused problems both in terms of the information that is given to them as well as people never having enough time for both activities.  For the pilot, data collectors have been released from their other responsibilities and work full time on data collection.  In addition, MoFA agreed to provide motorbikes for all the data collectors in the pilot districts to reduce transportation issues.

The sampling frame has also been fundamentally changed both in scope and method. Ten holders in 40 enumeration areas (EAs) in each district have been selected for enumeration (400 holders per district). Some of these holders will be selected from within the same household and some will come from independent households. This results in 8,000 holders being sampled nationwide, which will be enough for reliable district (piloted districts only), regional and national estimates. In addition, nearly 100 plots will be sampled per district for crop cutting, providing reliable estimates of field area under production and yields at the district level.  This data will make it possible to better plan and monitor agricultural interventions. Depending on the parameters of scaling this pilot up nationwide, this could lead to approximately 68,000 holders surveyed in the coming years.

Current Status of the Pilot

Phase I of the GAPS pilot was initiated in 2011 and completed 2012 . The data collected during this phase went through series of cleaning processes and a report on the major season was produced by SRID GSSP provided technical and logistic support and monitored their activities and ensure that quality data was collected.

Phase II of GAPS was completed in May 2013 with the focus on the minor season along with some modifications to address issues that emerged in the first phase.  Modifications  were made based on the recommendations provided by the assessment committee of Phase I. Steering committee was put in place to play advisory role and a rigorous system of monitoring was introduced to improve data integrity.  As in phase I,
an independent assessment committee was set up by the office of Chief Director of MoFA to bring to the fore all short comings of phase II to be addressed when scaling up. A report on the minor season was also produced and released by SRID in May 2013.

SRID is now taking charge and seeking funding to scale up GAPS to include 60 districts for year 2013-2014. GSSP continues to provide them with technical supports and is currently playing a leading role in creating advocacy and awareness of the usefulness of the survey for improved planning and monitoring to relevant agencies and potential users of the data.

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