Assessing and addressing the global state of food production data scarcity

Food production data — such as crop, livestock, aquaculture and fisheries statistics — are critical to achieving multiple sustainable development goals. However, the lack of reliable, regularly collected, accessible, usable and spatially disaggregated statistics limits an accurate picture of the state of food production in many countries and prevents the implementation of effective food system interventions. In this Review, we take stock of national and international food production data to understand its availability and limitations. Across databases, there is substantial global variation in data timeliness, granularity (both spatially and by food category) and transparency. Data scarcity challenges are most pronounced for livestock and aquatic food production. These challenges are largely concentrated in Central America, the Middle East and Africa owing to a combination of inconsistent census implementation and a global reliance on self-reporting. Because data scarcity is the result of technical, institutional and political obstacles, solutions must include technological and policy innovations. Fusing traditional and emerging data-gathering techniques with coordinated governance and dedicated long-term financing will be key to overcoming current obstacles to sustained, up-to-date and accurate food production data collection, foundational in promoting and monitoring progress towards healthier and more sustainable food systems worldwide.
This article was originally published in Nature Reviews Earth & Environment. The version of record is available at: © Springer Nature Limited 2024. This article will be embargoed until 08/20/2024. This research was featured in a UDaily article on 03/04/2024 available at:
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Kebede, E.A., Abou Ali, H., Clavelle, T. et al. Assessing and addressing the global state of food production data scarcity. Nat Rev Earth Environ (2024).