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The setting of priorities for policy research at the International Food Policy Research Institute depends largely on an understanding of basic national and global trends in food production, consumption, and trade. Although IFPRI draws heavily on the analyses by FAO and other agencies for much of this information, it is also intensely examines the basic data, not only to carefully adjust its own program but to judge independently the key variable in these trends. Initially IFPRI worked largely from USDA data, but recent efforts have depended primarily on FAO statistics. This experience with the published data of both agencies has led Leonardo Paulino and Shen Sheng Tseng to undertake this analyses available to the research community at large, we hope to encourage an expanded dialogue on ways of improving the agricultural data. Solutions to many of the world’s food problems require policies that can only be debated, agreed upon, and implemented if there is a consensus about the underlying facts. This study points up the underlying facts. This study points up the uncertainly of some of the information on agricultural production and trade. Lack of confidence in such data not only inhabits diagnosis of problems but prejudices the choice of policy instruments. For example, it is unlikely that agreement can be reached on operating rules for global food security schemes based on changes in domestic production as long as doubts about the data exist. Thus, it is imperative that developing countries in particular improve their capacity to assemble more reliable statistics on food production, consumption, and trade so that strides can ne made in policy development.


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