FAO Launches 2013 Statistical Yearbook

July 22, 2013

in Around the World in Statistics

By Pietro Gennari

How fast has agricultural production grown in the world vis-à-vis other sectors of the economy, and what has been the driving force behind this? How much does agriculture contribute to greenhouse gas emissions? In which countries has the average dietary supply adequacy improved? How big of a role does agricultural trade play in food security and has commodity composition changed over time? What trading hubs exist around major commodities?

Answers to these – and to many other questions – can be found in this 2013 edition of the Statistical Yearbook, recently released by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. FAO is a proud Statistics2013 participating organization.


This book is a visual synthesis of the major trends and factors shaping the global food and agricultural landscape and their interplay with broader environmental, social and economic dimensions. In doing so, it strives to serve as a unique reference point on the state of world food and agriculture for policy-makers, donor agencies, researchers and analysts as well as the general public.

The publication showcases FAO data and combines them with information from partner organizations to provide a holistic story of agriculture and food security in the world. It is divided into four thematic parts: the setting; hunger dimensions; feeding the world; and sustainability dimensions. And each of the topics within the sections contains text accompanied by visualizations (maps and charts) and data tables.

The Global Statistical Yearbook is just one of the products FAO uses to disseminate statistical information. A full suite of Regional Yearbooks will be launched in early 2014, in time for FAO regional conferences. A Statistical Pocketbook, which is a reduced version of the Yearbook but presented instead by country, is also available. The data can also be accessed in electronic format through links in the Yearbook; FAOSTAT, the corporate database; and other FAO online resources. And none of this would be possible without the vital contribution of countries, who are the primary suppliers of the data.

Good statistics are necessary to monitor development progress. And, the better the data, the better the decision base. Without good data, there is no evidence-based decision making, for farmers or for policy makers. Nor would we be able to evaluate or determine the impact of these decisions. With over 60 percent of the world relying on agriculture for its livelihood and approximately 870 million undernourished in the world, quality data on agriculture and food security is especially important to make faster and greater headway in the fight against poverty and hunger.

FAO is strongly dependent on the completeness, accuracy and comparability of national data. Therefore, FAO works in partnership with member countries to improve data quality by strengthening national statistical institutions, developing the technical skills and competencies of national statisticians, and improving country methods for the collection, analysis, and dissemination of relevant and timely information. Some of our current initiatives include the Global strategy to improve agricultural and rural statistics, CountrySTAT, AMIS and the EC-FAO Improved global governance for hunger reduction.

I hope you can take the opportunity to look at our new publication!

Gennari is chief statistician and director of the Statistics Division at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.