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IHSN Toolkit Training for Philippine agricultural statistics produces “BEANS” (Rizal Province, 31 August to 04 September 2009)

Nineteen trainees from the Philippine Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) participated in the IHSN Microdata Management Toolkit Training and DDI Production Workshop, and started producing DDIs for surveys on food and agriculture from 31 August to 04 September 2009 in Rizal province. An important output of the training was a demonstration of the draft BAS NADA, named the “BAS Electronic Archiving and Network Services”, or BEANS for short. The BEANS included some of the surveys documented during the workshop, complete with branding. The BAS staff targets to finish the documentation of 30 surveys until June next year. They also proposed to develop additional functionalities in the BEANS for searching the datasets and the external resources using PHP programming. Another initiative from the group was the draft standard list and categorization of documents for external resources proposed for adoption in all BAS survey documentations.

Several good practices were observed during the training, notably: (a) Teamwork was evident between IT staff and statisticians who volunteered to share the work, such that, the IT staff would document most of the datasets, while the statisticians would document the rest of the metadata; (b) The live-in workshop proved to be an advantage because the staff usually spent additional time outside of the workshop hours to produce their respective DDIs; and (c) One of the participants presented the ADP overview convincingly during the closing program, a good sign that knowledge has been imparted well.

Some agreements during the training were on the standard versioning of studies, and on using standard text for DDI items on access policy to be based on the BAS website Terms of Use.

The management of BAS, led by Director Romeo Recide and Assistant Director Maura Lizarondo, fully supported the activity as a priority management concern and emphasized that the staff should not fail to produce the deliverables expected. Director Recide noted that documentation and dissemination should be the BAS’ response to users’ complaints that the agency produces too much data, but not enough that is useful, maybe because these are not accessible. Meanwhile, Assistant Director Lizarondo noted that the Toolkit would be a big help in disseminating the data, an activity which had less attention because much of the time of the staff was spent in producing the data.

The activity was the fourth of a series of Toolkit trainings conducted by the ADP Asia team for statistical agencies in the Philippines from 27 July to 04 September 2009. The Philippine Statistical System is highly decentralized system with three major producing agencies: National Statistics Office, Bureau of Agricultural Statistics, and Bureau of Labor and Employment Statistics.