Main steps in developing and implementing the census of agriculture
Regional Workshop for Monitoring the SDGs related to Food
and Agriculture Sector and on the WCA 2020
Nadi, Fiji 6-10 November 2017
Main steps in developing and implementing
the census of agriculture
Technical Session 8
Leader, Agricultural Census and Survey Team
FAO Statistics Division
• Planning and preparation of the agri-census
• Role of the census in the integrated system, strategy and objectives
• Work plan & budget
• Census legislation, census office & staff
• Publicity campaign
• Data quality framework
• Frames & mapping
• Tabulation plan
• Questionnaires (design, pre-test, pilot, fine-tuning) & manuals
• Data processing system
• Field work
• Organization of field work, staff and training
• Census enumeration
• Processing, analysis, publication
• Data processing, tabulation, archiving
• Analysis, reports, dissemination
• Dara reconciliation 2
Steps in developing and
conducting the AC
1. Identify the role of
the AC in the system
2. Determine overall
strategy for and
objectives of the AC
3. Define the
4. Develop work plan
and budget for
carrying out the
5. Prepare census
legislation, if required
6. Create the
Office and recruit staff
7. Develop and
implement the census
8. Design data quality
9. Prepare frames and
10. Develop the
11. Design, pre-test,
12. Design/test the
entry, editing and
13. Organize field
recruit and train field
15. Post enumeration
16. Data processing,
17. Analysis and
and publicize results
18. Reconcile current
statistics with census
1. Identify the role of the AC as a component of the
system of integrated agricultural censuses and surveys
• The census of agriculture must not be carried out in
isolation but as a component of an integrated system of
agricultural censuses and surveys
• Development of the system of agricultural censuses and
surveys within the National Statistical System (NSS), in
line with the National Strategy for the Development of
• A comprehensive multi-year census-survey programme
ensures efficient use of available resources, standard
definitions/classifications and avoids duplication of data
collection or releasing conflicting statistics.
2A. Define the specific objectives of the AC
Specific objectives - to provide key data (mainly on
the structure of agriculture):
• At the national level and for small administrative
units/geographic areas; and at community level if
• as benchmarks for and reconciliation of current
• To provide frames for agricultural sampling surveys and
data needed for registers of agricultural holders
• To collect some additional data on non-agricultural
production households (in a widened AC).
2B. Define the overall strategy to implement the AC
• Relationship to other censuses: linked to or jointly with pop or
• Census scope:
o Crop and livestock; and
o Aquaculture, and/or Forestry, and/or capture fisheries
• Census coverage:
o holdings in the household sector
o holdings in the non-household sector
o Non-agricultural production households in rural areas
o National or regional geographic coverage
o Minimum thresholds
. Way to implement the census:
o Methodology (see next slide) 6
3. Define the methodology
• Define the statistical unit (e.g. agric. holding)
• Reference period (census reference year)
• Approach: classical, modular, integrated census-
surveys, use of registers
• Enumeration period(s) and number of phases
• Design collection:
o Establishment of census frame (including listing
o Use of maps
o Data collection method (e.g. PAPI, CAPI, etc.)
o Sample design (if relevant)
o Fine-tuning of methodology based on pilot census results
• Design of Post-enumeration Survey (PES)
4. Develop work plan and budget
Elaboration of detailed work plan with the different stages of
implementation clearly established.
Development of detailed budget where different components of
spending are estimated and time-table of expenditures and funding.
All census operations including planning, cartography, enumeration,
processing, PES, analysis and dissemination carefully budgeted from the
beginning and efforts made to mobilize the required funds.
Establishment of a monitoring system and periodic review of work
plan, budget and expenditure control.
Outsourcing of some activities under Census Office’s (CO) supervision:
o Layout and printing of questionnaires, other census material; reports
and other printed census dissemination products
o Packing and delivery of census materials and equipment
o Census mapping
o Publicity campaign
o Data collection, processing and dissemination systems
5. Preparation of census legislation
• One of the first aspects to be considered when starting to plan the AC.
One of the most important instruments for facilitating the census work.
• If a country lacks an appropriate legal framework for taking periodic
censuses, it is important to act early to establish it.
• For the census legislation, subject matter specialists from the census
agency should work closely with admin officers and legal experts in
order to ensure coherence of census acts with other relevant legislation.
• In general, legal provisions are required for:
o establishing and regulating primary admin responsibility, e.g. agency
responsible for the census organization;
o obtaining the necessary funds;
o determining the general scope and timing of the census;
o placing a legal obligation upon the respondents to cooperate and
provide truthful information;
o placing a legal obligation upon the census agency/personnel to ensure
confidentiality and protection of holders’ information, etc.
6. Census Office & Institutional framewor
The census agency should be specified in
the census legislation.
Ensure strong political support and efficient
coordination with other agencies.
Create the AC Office (central & provincial)
and recruit necessary staff.
Establish a National Census Committee and
subcommittees to oversee and coordinate
7. Develop and implement the census
A well-planned census communication and
publicity is essential to sensitize the public about
the purpose of the census of agriculture and,
ultimately, to ensure the cooperation of holders to
provide complete and accurate data.
A communication and publicity strategy involves:
o Situation analysis to identify opportunities or issues that
need to be taken into account
o Definition of the target audiences (who)
o Messages to be communicated, logos & slogans (what)
o Communication channels and promotional tools (how)
o Implementing the strategy (when) 11
8. Design data quality assurance framework
• The main goal of quality assurance for the CA is to prevent and minimize potential
errors at design stage and detect errors as soon as possible so that timely remedial
actions can be taken even as the census operations continue.
• A quality assurance framework aims at achieving an appropriate balance between the
needs of users, costs, respondent burden, and the various dimensions of quality.
• The six quality dimensions of statistical data (or outputs):
o Accuracy and reliability
o Timeliness and punctuality in disseminating results
o Coherence and comparability of statistics
o Accessibility and Clarity/Interpretability.
Quality management of a census of agriculture should be comprehensive and should
cover all activities including planning, development, data collection, processing,
evaluation and dissemination of census results.
• The main techniques applied during data collection and data processing phase:
o Complete verification
o Sample verification: acceptance sampling or statistical process control
9A. Prepare the AC frames
Sources of information for the construction of frames
• The statistical data and maps of the EAs of the most recent
PHC and a list of EAs along with number of
• The statistical data and maps of the EAs of the latest AC
including a list of EAs with their number of holdings.
• Statistical farm registers, cadastral and other cartographic
materials, other statistical and admin data sources, which
include listings of holdings and/or holders' addresses or
their approximate location.
• When lacking reliable information, prepare census frame
by conducting a listing operation (prior to starting the
9B. Prepare maps for census field operations
• Cartographic work should be conducted during early stages of
preparatory census activities.
• It should start with the inventory of available geospatial information and
maps and the evaluation of their suitability for AC purposes.B
• Types of maps: topographic sheets, other government maps, satellite
images, aerial photography, communication maps, land-use maps,
economic maps, city and tourist maps, EA maps from PHC.
• A large proportion of the cartographic preparations for an AC consists
of delineating and identifying the enumerators' areas (EAs) of work.
• GIS provides computer-based design of EAs and significant automation of
map production tasks.
• In many countries EA maps are prepared as part of the cartographic
work of the PHC. In some countries the cartographic work is conducted
for both PHC and AC (e.g. Brazil).
• Adapting, revising and updating available maps to census requirements.
10. Develop the tabulation plan
The tabulation plan is a set of prototypes of statistical
tables (dummy tables) prepared to present the main
census results, based on users’ primary needs.
Should be based on user consultation.
Needs to be undertaken at early stages of census
preparation to define census content and developing
the census questionnaires.
The preparation of the tabulation plan is an iterative
process: census questionnaire and methodology are
conditioned by the data to be tabulated, and vice-versa.
11A. Design and test questionnaires
Design supported by a working group and users-producers
consultations (to ensure ownership)
Design and characteristics of the census questionnaires
o the census approach/modality
o the type of holding (household sector, non-household
sector, community level)
o method of data collection: PAPI (face-to-face
interviews or mailed) or electronic questionnaires (CAPI
• Pre-test of questionnaire(s), revise and pilot test
11A. Design and test questionnaires (cont’d)
Aspects to be taken into account
Concepts and definitions in questionnaire
harmonized with other agricultural statistics
Questions, concepts and definitions used in the
questionnaire should be easily understood by the
holder and census field staff.
Reasonable size (length).
Different languages in multi-lingual countries.
11B. Prepare instruction manuals
• Manuals establish criteria and procedures for supervisors and
enumerators, roles and the work expected to be carried out during
• They pursue quality of work and standard procedures at all levels
• Purposes: - training - field reference:
o provincial coordinators’manual.
• Other manuals are for training, listing operation, key-punchers, data
editing, data cleaning, PES, etc.
o Printed manuals
o On-line manuals
o Manuals included in mobile devices or
o Any combination of them. 18
11C. Census testing
Questionnaire pre-tests Pilot Census
Test the suitability of
o the intended census questions,
including their formulation and
the instructions provided
o questionnaire design
Test with holdings, including special
Estimate time requirements in
Several rounds may be done
Test the data collection methods (e.g.
Test the entire census infrastructure
Cover one or more sizeable
Test all stages of a census: preparatory
enumeration, processing and
Best if conditions in the pilot census
are close to the conditions present
during the actual enumeration
Ideally conducted exactly one year
before the planned census, if not at
least 6 months before
Pilot census data no usable
substantive data. But analysis of data
errors may be informative for
identifying problems 19
Table 14.1 Census testing
12. Design and test the
computer processing system
• Considerable time is required to design computer
programmes (CPs) for error identification,
automatic error correction, tabulation,
calculation of sampling errors (when relevant),
• Initial test of CPs using questionnaires with
• CPs should be tested with data from pre-tests
and/or pilot census.
• CP should be tested, normally by verifying results of both error detection
and tabulations for a group of 100-500 questionnaires. Data used for
such tests should be tabulated manually to check each item or its
classification in the tabulations.
• Useful to enter erroneous data to test the full range of error detection
• Tabulation process to be simulated during the test.
• Data transfer to be tested during the pilot census (for CAPI, CATI,
13A. Organization of field
work and field staff
• Staff play a critical role in AC and duties should be clearly defined.
• Advisable that supervisors and enumerators live in places of work, are
familiar with local conditions and able to communicate easily with
• Extension assistants or field officers of the Ministry of Agriculture
could be a good source for enumerators or supervisors.
• Usually, not more than 100-200 holdings should be assigned to an
enumerator, and only 20-50 if objective measurements are made.
• Commonly, one supervisor effectively supervises 5 to 10 enumerators
• Different ways of organizing enumerators’ field work:
• the supervisor gives certain number of EAs to each enumerator -
used mainly when enumerators with local knowledge are recruited
and can work alone in their EAs
• a small team of supervisor and enumerators work together in all
assigned EAs to the supervisors; reasonable in remote areas with
poor transport and communication facilities.
• The organization and delivery of training courses should be included in
the planning and budgeting stages of census preparation.
• Diversity of training programmes/courses: training of trainers, training
of supervisors, enumerators, office staff (e.g. programmers and
system analysts, editors, coders, computer operators).
• Establishment of training venues all around the country.
• Content and timing of training programmes should be appropriate for
the level of personnel to be trained.
• Developing proper training material for the training classes: training
manuals, aids (audio-visual aids) and new multi-media technologies.
• Selection of appropriate training techniques.
• Uniform delivery of training in all venues.
• Assessment of trainees. Census personnel should be screened and a
final selection made on the basis of a written examination plus an
13B. Training (cont’d)
• The training can from up-to-down in a “cascade”
o in first place, high-level census organizers responsible for
census organization and administration;
o main technical staff at the central census office is charged with
the training of trainers for different type of tasks (training for
census enumeration and supervision, training of office staff
(programmers, coders, data-entry operators or operators of
data recording equipment, cartographers); training for using
o the staff so trained will deliver the training courses down to
provincial coordinators and office staff;
o provincial coordinators so trained have to deliver the training
to field supervisors;
o field supervisors must train the field enumerators.
13A. Organization of field
• All questionnaires should be recorded irrespective of the outcome of the
interview (completed, no respondent, non-existing, etc.) using a specific code,
to ensure that all holdings within each EA are accounted for.
• Set up monitoring mechanism, including periodic reports with key data
regarding census coverage to the Census Office to enable timely actions for
• For PAPI, special control measures on questionnaires flows are needed :
o Completed questionnaires returned by enumerators through supervisors
to processing center, grouped by geographical areas and properly filed.
o During processing: questionnaires are removed from storage for manual
coding and editing, data entry and verification. Very rigid control over
this flow is needed; periodic reviews in order to detect misplaced
o An adequate physical storage space is also required.
• When CAPI or CASI is used, the activities related to monitoring
questionnaires, data entry, editing and coding are done during the enumeration.
14. Census enumeration
• Rigorous procedure for census enumeration should be established
with clear responsibilities of enumerators, supervisors and other
• Enumerators are responsible for accurately recording all required
information on the agricultural holdings in an assigned area and
reporting the progress to their supervisors.
• Supervisors responsible for performing quality checks according
to the census’ quality assurance plan on enumerators’ work.
• Monitoring enumeration on a daily basis: information regarding
AC coverage (numbers, %), average time taken, problems faced.
• Reports on the outcome of field data collection to the Census
Office (CO) to solve critical problems.
• Enumerators’ kits according to data collection method (PAPI,
15. Post-enumeration survey (PES)
Objective: to assess the magnitude
of non-sampling errors in terms of i)
coverage errors and ii) content
errors (quality of census data
Plan: should be carefully planned
and synchronized with the overall
Staff: the best supervisors and
enumerators assigned to other EAs
to ensure the best quality of data.
Design: a sample survey to be
conducted independently from the
Timing: it should be carried out soon
after the census enumeration is
completed. In the cases of the
modular and integrated
sample/survey modalities, soon after
the core modules.
New listing: agricultural holdings
must be listed again in sampled areas
Data collection: on key selected
census variables. It should attempt
the use of physical measurement of
area and actual count of livestock and
Reference period: must be the same
as for the census enumeration.
Further info: Reader is referred to the UN PES Operational Guidelines (2010).
16. Data processing
The ICT strategy for the census should be part of the overall AC strategy.
o Main characteristics of data processing:
Large amount of data to be entered in a short time with multi-users
processing in parallel
Large amount of data storage required
Relatively large numbers of tables to be prepared
Extensive use of raw data files which need to be used simultaneously.
Method of data capture chosen by the census office
o Basic hardware equipment:
Many data entry devices (PCs, hand-held devices, depending on data
Central processor/server and networks
Fast, high-resolution graphics printers
o Number of PCs /handheld devices to be carefully considered
o Preferable to use standard software maintained by the manufacturer with
available documentation (to allow for data portability). 27
16. Data processing (cont’d)
• Data coding
• Data entry: manual, optical scanning, hand-
held devices, CASI and CATI.
• Data editing and imputation: manual,
• Calculation of sampling error.
16. Data processing (cont’d)
Albania, Czech Republic, Greece, Ireland, Malawi,
Norway, Philippines, Sweden
Tanzania, Canada, Cook Islands
Argentina, Colombia, Cote d’Ivoire, Finland,
France, French Guyana, Iran, Jordan, Lithuania,
Malta, Namibia, Martinique, Mozambique,
Slovenia, Thailand, Venezuela
PDA Mexico, Brazil
CAWI, CATI, CAPI
Australia, Austria, Canada, Estonia, Finland,
Iceland, Italy, Latvia, The Netherlands, Poland,
Spain, Sweden, USA
Examples of data scanning and computer assisted systems use for WCA 2010
round (FAO, Metadata reports: http://www.fao.org/economic/ess/ess-wca/en/ )
It is important to physically secure census data. Important for
wider use or reuse of census data, time series, historical
analysis and justification of the high cost of the census.
o Backup copies of data.
o Guarding against hardware and software obsolescence, such
as outmoded floppy disks and unreadable file formats, as
well as physical threats, such as natural disasters, theft or
Data types include: census microdata, final published aggregate
data, transitory data file, unstructured data (documentation,
records of decision, work plan, budget, manuals,
These data types can be archived and may have different
archiving, retention periods and metadata requirements.
17. Analysis, census reports and
Design the dissemination plan during census preparation
o On preliminary results
o On final results
o On quality evaluation of census results (including results of PES)
o Analytical/Thematic reports
o Technical report (census operation, methodology, concepts and definitions)
Other census products:
o Brochures and flyers
o Atlases and other geographic products
Methods and tools for dissemination (printed, digital, online, social nets)
Providing access to census databases
Providing public access to microdata
Dissemination workshops (national, regional)
18. Reconcile data from the system of
current statistics with census data
The existence of discrepancies between new census
results and the previous published estimates from
agricultural surveys performed during the inter-censal
period is a common issue.
Important gaps may be observed when comparing
indicators like crops area and production, agricultural
population or quantity of fertilisers.
Reconciliation of census and surveys data consists in
comparing estimates from previous surveys and the new
census results regarding a number of important
agricultural indicators and correcting the discrepancies
18. Reconcile current statistics with
census data (cont’d)