The Necessity of information (1-2) [Archives:2004/767/Business & Economy]

August 26 2004

By Taufik A. Al-Dobhani
The G.D. for agricultural marketing
For the Yemen Times

The importance of data and information, as a basis for success, is obvious. The development of various economic activities and the increased specialization in economic processes, as well as the interactions, interrelationships and integrations of different economies and economic sectors, over the last century, has led to the accumulation of large amounts of data and information. Consequently, many specialized organizations and institutions have been created with the aim of dealing with all different aspects of data analysis and management. Moreover, the information sector of many economies is considered to be the cornerstone for all other sectors, so specialized scientific disciplines have developed to support and facilitate the collection, the use, the provision of and the transmission of all kinds of data and information, for all purposes, e.g. various applied information technologies. These efforts have been and will continue to be made with the overall objective of facilitating and ensuring the collection, provision, and the proper application of data and information, for all required purposes, at all possible levels, and in all desirable forms.

In the context of the decision making process at any given level, the application of adequate and appropriate data-information, in the required form, is considered to be the basis for sustainable success and development. i.e. forming a precondition and a basis to ensure the following main results:

– appropriate planning and effective performance
– smooth monitoring process and accurate assessments
– efficient use of resources
– effective management control
– application of efficient and appropriate policies and measures
– minimal risks

Based on these rather brief and general outlines, it may be beneficial here to go into a more detailed discussion on the applicability of the above aspects for Yemen.
For more than 2 decades, Yemen has acknowledged the necessity of focusing on data and information. Yemen has applied many measures to promote and encourage data related activities, through a series of policies, decisions and induced regulations. For example, by establishing specialized Departments for planning and statistics at all line Ministries and their underlying regional and provincial offices, the creation of the Central Statistical Organization (CSO) as a central reference for collecting, organizing and providing all kinds of data and information, and more recently the creation of the National Information Centre (NIC).
All these and other public and private organizations are operating in different ways, to serve the purpose under consideration. Some publish periodical publications, some are subject to the provision of rather general data on all or many economic sectors. However, by focusing on a specific and particular sector and/or on sub-sector information requirements, a relatively clear vision can be explored.
Let us limit our discussion from here on to the agricultural sector as it forms the most important non-oil sector in the Yemeni economy. The Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation (MAI) is collecting data and information related to agriculture through its underlying specialized departments (in particular the department for agricultural statistics and the department for planning and monitoring) and through targeted surveys and studies.
It publishes related data and information through the agricultural statistics year book, and all other collected information is collected and kept mainly in its underlying library and offices. Nevertheless, a major part of the available information is not well organized and considered to be not for immediate use for specific sub-sector purposes, nor are they regularly updated.
This is due to the inapplicability of well defined information flows within the ministry and between it and other related organizations, including its own underlying branches and instates.
These and other related problems have prevailed for over one decade resulting in minimizing the effective utilization of available information. The recognition of these constraints, and other internal agricultural marketing and trade related pressures, have resulted, in the year 2000, in the establishment of the Marketing Information System (MIS), (through an independent project supported by the EU under the G.D. for agricultural marketing of the MAI).
Such projects are required and can be justified for any given sub-sector to facilitate the acquisition and provision of more intensive data, based on a well defined and sustainable system of information flow, to ensure data reviews, assessments and required analysis, as well as to allow for their country wide coverage, so as to improve their reliability and utility for different users.
In this regard, this particular project has established in its first phase, 7 regional offices in the most important governorates, which are operated, by local based technical personnel to collect, all assigned information on a daily basis.
The data is mainly related to agricultural supply and demand elements, as given at respective wholesale markets. Every day all the relevant data is collected from all 7 governorates and transmitted through an online E-mail network to the project HQ in Sana'a.