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[MAPUTO] A new report with detailed statistics and data on African agriculture that will enable researchers, scientists, farmers and policymakers to access timely, relevant and reliable data on the sector has been launched.
The Africa Agriculture Status Report, published by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), was launched on 4 September during the third African Green Revolution Forum in Maputo, Mozambique.
The report addresses the gaps in agricultural statistics and data that are often hard to come by in Africa, yet necessary for forming policies that would promote food and nutrition security.
It was compiled from data supplied by African ministries of agriculture, bureaus of statistics and international institutions that track key indicators such as the World Bank, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Jane Karuku, president of AGRA, says the report will be produced annually.
"It is a journey AGRA has started that will enable effective planning, monitoring and evaluation of agriculture and rural development policies," says Karuku.
The report looks at staple crops such as cereals and edible root crops in Africa.
It focuses on the 16 countries where AGRA operates: Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.
The report says many African countries such as Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda are investing in research  and development in the agricultural sector, but others including Ethiopia, Niger, Sierra Leone and Zambia are lagging behind, leading to food insecurity.
Women — who make up the majority of Africa′s smallholder farmers — are marginalised in land ownership, limiting their chances of accessing credit, agricultural technologies and services, according to the report.
It also states that Africa has the world′s lowest ratio of people engaged in agricultural research with only 70 researchers, per million inhabitants.
Strive Masiyiwa, the vice-chair of the board of AGRA, tells SciDev.Net: "We have to tackle agricultural issues from the garden to the table. We have a mission to trigger a unique African green revolution that ensures food security."
He adds: "But we have to be ahead of the trends, capture the successes, do strategic planning and contribute to knowledge".
The report describes agricultural growth, competiveness, factors of production and individual ― or population ― level data from the 16 countries. 
David Ameyaw, the director of strategy, monitoring and evaluation at AGRA says: ″We hope to track the micro or individual-level data on a regular basis and offer these to actual and potential consumers."
Michael Waithaka, manager, policy analysis and advocacy programme of the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASERECA), says the data from the report are reliable but collecting them can be expensive. 

"African governments should invest more in the periodic collection of [agricultural] information because such data can help plan for increasing food security," he says.  

Link to full report
This article has been produced by SciDev.Net's Sub-Saharan Africa desk.