Now Free for All: FAO’s Statistical Database

By Alex Tung

If you have tried to track down data related to food, agriculture and hunger, chances are you have spent time navigating through the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations’ Statistical database (FAOSTAT).  If not, there is no better time to start than now.  FAO recently announced that it is granting unlimited, free access of FAOSTAT to the general public after a simple registration process.  Prior to this, there were limits to the number of records non-fee paying users could retrieve, and a subscription fee of US$1500 per user for full access.

The Nourishing the Planet database will help stakeholders including farmers, policy makers, donors and researchers evaluate, compare and rank agricultural innovations based on sustainability. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

With over 3 million time-series and cross-sectional data relating to food and agriculture and data for 200 countries and more than 200 primary products and inputs, FAOSTAT is the world’s largest database of its kind.  FAOSTAT includes data on agricultural, food, forestry and fisheries production, usage of fertilizers and pesticides, food aid shipments, food balance sheets, water use, land use, population trends, trade and much more.

Under this new access policy, Hafez Ghanem, FAO’s Assistant Director General for Economic and Social Development, hopes that economists, planners and policy-makers, especially those in working the developing world will take advantage of this “important tool to alleviate poverty, promote sustainable development and eliminate hunger.”

At the Worldwatch Institute, we also understand that sharing information and making it easily accessible to the public is crucial in making sound, informed decisions regarding agricultural development. As part of Nourishing the Planet, we are building an agriculture innovations database – a free and interactive online resource containing information on agricultural innovations across the world.

Innovations will range from those that improve soil and water use to those that improve market access and livelihoods of rural populations.   This information will come from a variety of sources, including  project co-director Danielle Nierenberg’s project visits throughout sub-Saharan Africa; submissions to our Agricultural Innovations survey in English or French; and insights from our partners and advisory groups. We hope that this database will help stakeholders including farmers, policy makers, donors and researchers evaluate, compare and rank innovations based on sustainability.

Please stay tuned about exciting developments regarding the Agricultural Innovations database.  In the meantime, subscribe to our weekly blog posts on agricultural innovations, or read Survey continues to find Innovations for Sustainable Ways to Alleviate HungerSurvey Says: More Innovations for Sustainable Ways to Alleviate Hunger and More of Your Responses Are In to learn more about innovations that nourish the planet.  If you know of an agricultural innovation, please tell us about it by filling out our survey in either English or French.

Alex Tung is a research intern with the Nourishing the Planet project.

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