Agricultural statistics: how to make no errors while counting

6 june 2014

At the Analytical Center experts discussed the issues regarding organizational and legal support for statistical activities in the field of agriculture, methodological approaches to the collection of statistical reports, development of economic calculations for performance evaluation of the agricultural organizations, including small enterprises, private (peasant) farms and private auxiliary farms of the population.

“The differences that market players have in their views and data they possess, shows that our statistical database is not complete or it must be improved, - said the First Deputy Director General of the Analytical Center Vladislav Onischenko. – And this is not the only problem. There are other issues, such as those associated with the completeness and reliability of statistical information”. While debating a certain issue, experts rely on different data, or data that is not of the same period, which creates problems. Presently there are 4 main information sources: Federal Service of State Statistics, statistics provided by public authorities (mainly by the Ministry of Agriculture), branch unions and associations, as well as international statistics (OECD data).

An important aspect is for the data to be fresh. The specificity of the agricultural sector is that the data does not involve major changes from year to year. For example, certain indicators from 2012 have a high probability to remain the same in 2013 or 2014. The same approach cannot be used in forecasts, as they require the most accurate and recent data. This is important in preparing justification for budget spending, predicting the development of industries and the consumer market, elaborating the public policy for industry, financial policy, calculate the volumes of state subsidies and other.

Another subject was discussed at the roundtable - the use of data on volumes of agricultural production in different types of farms, for food security assessment and conversion of production output into marketable products for the public sector (products that undergo further industrial processing and emerge in trading networks). Participants came to an agreement that using data on agricultural production in private auxiliary farms and peasant farms, in order to evaluate product characteristics, is wrong. Those products don’t enter the commercial and industrial chain, but are important for assessing the population consumption of certain products.

Representatives of Federal Service of State Statistics, Ministry of Agriculture of the Russian Federation, Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation, Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation, Rosagroleasing OJSC, as well as rural agricultural enterprises, branch unions and professional agricultural associations took part in debating this issue.