If all goes as planned, Barbados could have another Agricultural Census in 2012, some 23 years after the last one was conducted.

Word of this has come from the Ministry of Agriculture’s Acting Chief Economist, Suzette Edey-Babb, who said that was realistically the earliest tentative date for such an exercise, if plans were included in the current estimates.

“We are hoping that we can encourage Government to do a census. It takes years to plan and you cannot have one when the Housing and Population Census is being done, since we will have to use their Statistical Services enumerators and other resources,” Mrs. Edey-Babb explained.

Noting that the census was due in 1999, the Chief Economist said in 2006/ 2007, her department did a National Agricultural Survey, which was “the next best thing after a census,” and it provided a “snap shot” of the national situation. “We do have an ongoing survey, but it is very limited,” she explained.

According to her, “an Agricultural Census is quite similar to a Housing and Population instrument, where they enumerate all households in Barbados and select farmers for obtaining relevant information, including areas in which production was occurring; production  levels; demographic information pertaining to farming; information on crops, livestock and all areas apart from fisheries.

“This allows us to have a good basis on which to plan,” she explained, noting that additional information on pesticide usage, and farming needs is picked up from the feedback segment  of the questionnaires.

Mrs. Edey-Babb was speaking at a seminar organised for senior staff members on the proposed Geographic Information Systems (GIS) at the Island Inn hotel, Aquatic Gap, St. Michael.

In addressing the seminar, acting Chief Agricultural Officer, Ralph Farnum, told participants the Ministry had not conducted a census since 1989, and he observed that his officers were currently “gestimating”. He said it was hoped that the GIS technology would assist in garnering timely information.

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