Agriculture Ministry Launches 2007 Census

The Ministry of Agriculture and Lands on Tuesday (Feb. 20) launched its 2007 agricultural census, which will garner valuable data that will inform government planning for the sector.
The survey, which is conducted every 10 years, got underway this month under the theme: ‘Taking stock of Agriculture’.
The process will involve some 477 personnel interviewing farmers across the island, with the aim of garnering data on the number of farms in each parish, the size of holdings, types of tenure, crops cultivated and production output.
Upon completion in July 2008, the information will be used to foster agricultural policy planning, project implementation and monitoring of the sector.
Minister of Agriculture and Lands, Roger Clarke, in his remarks at the launch held at his Old Hope Road offices, said that information gathered from the 2007 survey would assist in the process to modernize the agricultural sector and to link production to targeted markets to ensure economic sustainability, while avoiding over-saturation and dumping.
“Conducting a census at this juncture is indeed timely. It will chart the way forward, but it will also help to track the progress made since the last census in 1996,” he stated, noting that the information garnered had guided the development of a number of projects and programmes including the Agriculture Support Services Project (ASSP).
Data from the 1996 survey identified some 187,791 farms across the island utilizing approximately 407 hectares of land, with the largest agricultural areas being in the parishes of St. Elizabeth and Clarendon, with a total of 55,193 farms, of which 87,000 hectares were prime farm lands.
The Census of Agriculture 2007 is the sixth to be conducted in Jamaica, with the first survey done in 1943 with the Census of Population and Housing. Another survey was carried out in 1961 as part of a programme of agricultural censuses for member territories of the now defunct West Indian Federation.
In 1968/69, Jamaica conducted a census as part of the 1970 World Agricultural Census Programme and in 1978/79, again participated in the 1980 World Programme. The 1990 World Programme covered the period 1986-1995 but Jamaica’s involvement with the 1991 Census of Population and Housing delayed participation until 1996.

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