FAO, SADC debut Regional Agricultural Information Management System

AFRICA – The Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) have together unveiled the first SADC Agricultural Information Management System (AIMS), a platform to generate agricultural data for the region’s evidence-based decision-making.

For policy-makers, the lack of trustworthy and consistent data in the agricultural sector in Southern Africa has always been a hindrance.

This has led to significant delays in the planning and execution of regional responses that are well-coordinated and designed to address threats like transboundary pests and diseases like the Fall Armyworm and Foot and Mouth Disease, that have a negative impact on productivity and trade in the region.

To address this, the European Union-funded STOSAR project, “Support Towards Operationalization of the SADC Regional Agricultural Policy”, developed the AIMS platform (EU).

“The SADC AIMS is an integrated and multilingual system providing policy-makers with access to reliable and timely data on which to base policies, resource allocations, and emergency interventions.

“This web-based application will provide SADC Member States with standardized instruments necessary to produce and disseminate comparable statistical information to inform SADC policies,” said Patrice Talla, FAO Subregional Coordinator for Southern Africa.

The SADC AIMS platform is a web-based application with 12 modules for collecting, storing and analyzing agricultural information.

This system is supported by a high-end server that was installed at the SADC Headquarters data centre in February 2022.

Thirty-two computers were also procured for the 16 SADC countries to ensure they had the infrastructure for setting up a functional AIMS system at national level.

“The regional approach adopted by this project helps to standardize procedures for information management and sharing, communication on food security, and to rationalize decision-making on the management of food production.

“This should be a good indicator of prospects for deeper regional integration, with the ultimate goal of increasing access to export markets and trade opportunities,” said Tebogo Matlhare, the EU Programme Officer.

By precisely measuring the performance of the sector to support and influence timely strategic interventions like early warning systems for early anticipatory action, the SADC AIMS platform will have a positive impact on the agricultural sector in the region.

“This web-based application will provide SADC Member States with standardized instruments necessary to produce and disseminate comparable statistical information to inform SADC policies.”

Patrice Talla, FAO Subregional Coordinator for Southern Africa Tweet

The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and other important development policies, as well as the AIMS platform, provide the data required for monitoring the progress made towards the achievement of the food and nutrition security goals and commitments (SDGs).

“Sound agricultural policies that are data-driven are the backbone of a thriving agricultural sector. They are strategic to SADC’s development, unlocking economic growth, increasing incomes, improving living standards, eradicating poverty, and enhancing food security for all Member States,” said Domingos Gove, Director, SADC Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources (FANR).

Through the AIMS component of the STOSAR Project, all 16 Member States have had their capacities developed in data harmonization, AIMS principles and operations so that they can regularly feed data into the system.

AIMS Technical Committees have been created for the purposes of coordination and governance at the national and regional levels.

The SADC AIMS platform will be accessible through a public-facing landing webpage that will be hosted on the SADC website domain.

“To ensure that we continue to be at the forefront of ending hunger, the FAO continuously applies modern scientific knowledge, technology and data analysis to develop innovative, data-driven policies, which are well targeted and produce the desired results,” added Talla in his remarks at the launch.

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