Mr. Chairman, Distinguished Participants, Ladies and Gentlemen, it is a great pleasure for me to welcome you all to the fourth Technical Working Group Workshop and Refresher Training course of the CountrySTAT Ghana Project. It is about a year since the last meeting of the group was held at Naggy Hotel, here in Winneba. I believe that we have all in our own small way done our best to provide agriculture information from our various office for evidence based decision making and to help address issues of food security and rising food prices, which has plagued the world in recent times. The aim of the CountrySTAT Project as designed by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is to improve access to a nationally owned, quality statistics on food and agriculture. You will agree with me that this TWG has a crucial role to play in the provision of statistics on agriculture activities of the country for use by policy makers and programme planners. Mr. Chairman, as one of the three country-level entities of the programme, the Technical Working Group has the following functions to perform

i. Discuss and decide on issues of statistical quality control (in terms of completeness and accuracy of data and metadata), CountrySTAT content, methodology and standard, cross-domain collaboration, as well as all technical, administrative and practical issues of inter-agency and inter-institutional relevance; and

ii. Ensure that the CountrySTAT Secretariat receives

The development of the CountrySTAT Project by FAO for Sub-Saharan African Countries is laudable, Knowing the difficulties associated with the t with the production and dissemination of statistics in general and agriculture statistics in particular, and the poor quality that are produced as a result, in order to produce good quality for the country. It is important to have a standing technical working group to take charge and ensure that the appropriate concepts and classifications are used and the right procedures are followed. As experts in the field of agricultural data production, we trust that you will put in your very best towards producing the good quality agriculture statistics for the country.

Indeed, the formation of the TWG under CountrySTAT became necessary because we do not have a permanent (standing) Agricultural Statistics Advisory Committee (ASAC) as recommended by the FAO.

Let me take this opportunity to congratulate you for working together harmoniously for the past five years. You would recall that the first Technical Working Groups was held in June 2009. I understand some new members have joined the group following the retirement of their senior colleagues. You are most welcome to the CountrySTAT fraternity and please convey our sincerest appreciation to our senior colleagues for their contributions to the CountrySTAT programme.

Mr. Chairman, I would like to state that the objectives of this Six-day workshop are:

i. To harmonize data produced and provided by partner organizations of CountrySTAT Ghana Project;

ii. To validate available national and sub-national level core data and metadata that are provided by the partner organisations

iii. To update existing tables with current (2011) data; and add new tables as much as possible; and

iv. To re-organisations and correct observed errors on some of the old tables as recommended by the Project Statistician

v. To discuss and review the Correspondence Table of national and international classification of agricultural commodity; and

vi. To conduct a refresher Basic Administration training course for the TWG on the use of the CountrySTAT Software (the first training workshop was conducted exactly four years ago in Koforidua,where 22 of our members were trained)

We expect that during the workshop you would be able to compile data required to update the CountrySTAT Ghana web site, identify data gaps and filled them as much as possible and be able to produce more tables with metadata that would be posted onto the web site, and finally, you would improve upon the quality of the Correspondence Table of national and international classification of agricultural commodities.

Following advance information sent to you about this workshop, some of you have responded by also sending in advance some available data. This is a positive sign of our collaboration on the project and I have no doubt in my mind that you would demonstrate commitment and work hard together in the coming days to achieve the objectives set for the workshop.

It is gratifying to note that there is increasing commitment from donor community to assist developing countries to set up strong agricultural information systems, in line with the objectives of the Global Strategy for the Development of Agricultural Statistics. We are grateful to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for supporting the CountrySTAT initiative since it’s inception in 2008.The current phase of the programme was supposed to have ended in April 2013, but the foundation has agreed with FAO to extend it to December 2014. ECOWAS Agricultural Information Systems (ECOAGRIS) ,on the other hand has supplied some equipment to a number of data producing institutions in the country to facilitate the storage and dissemination of agriculture information .The West Africa Regional Fisheries Program Information System (WARFP Dashboard), is also planning to similar donations while the African Development Bank is in the process of conducting an assessment of the status of agricultural data production in the country with the hope of identifying gaps and subsequently helping to fill them. It is my hope that we will continue to play our part well towards improving the quality of data, which is an essential ingredient for achieving the desired growth of our economy and improving the quality of life of our people, which is the ultimate goal.

Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, I now have the privilege and honour to declare this workshop duly open. I wish you God’s guidance in you deliberations.

Technical Working Group (TWG) Members