Communique on General Results of the Manual Tabulation
for the First National Census of Agriculture in China
by the National Agricultural Census Office in China
Great Success Achieved
by the First National Census of Agriculture
According to the State Council¡¯s decision, and with the assistance of Italian Government and FAO, the preparation of the first national census of agriculture was started from 1994, formally conducted in January 1997. Up to now, the works on the stages of preparation, interviewing, quality check and manual tabulation on major indicators have been smoothly completed. Although the large scale data processing work of all census questionnaires is intensely ongoing, the results of Post-Enumeration Survey and the analysis and evaluation of major indicators showed that the performance of the first national census of agriculture are conscientious, sound and high efficient, the data obtained is scientific, believable and valuable, the objective requirement of high standard and high quality is realized, the census has already achieved great success.
The objects of the first national census of agriculture are all types of agricultural holdings, rural households, town and township enterprises, administrative villages, towns and townships. The time reference for point items is January 1, 1997. The time reference for period items is January 1 to December 31, 1996. The census enumeration of 38 items, 687 indicators should be finished within one month. The census is not only with wide range and abundant content, but also with intense time and heavy task, involved governments, sectors and social aspects at all levels. A large amount of sound and effective works were done by agricultural census agencies at all levels under the leadership of the party and government:
1. A complete set of organizational network and working network have been established. All related agencies, e.g. the State Council, the People¡¯s Governments at all levels, sectors such as the Legislative Ministry and the People¡¯s Liberation Army, established special leading groups and offices of agricultural census, in charge of the organization and implementation of the census respectively.
2. Formulated the Programme for the First National Census of Agriculture. The programme includes methodology, questionnaire explanation of indicators and detailed implementation regulations of the census. All regions have strictly followed this programme.
3. Recruited and trained a qualified census team. According to the requirements raised by the National Agricultural Census Office (NACO), 7.24 million of census working stuff were recruited and trained through 140 thousand training courses. The valuable data of the census is just collected by this team which was highly qualified and has strong working ability.
4. Implemented pilot census at all levels and in all kinds of agricultural regions. During March to April 1996, NACO organized a comprehensive pilot census at Zhongshan city of Guangdong Province. Based on experiences obtained from pilot census, the census programme has been revised and improved. After the national pilot census, various pilot censuses were organized by different provinces (autonomous regions, municipalities), prefectures (cities), counties (cities), town and townships. Through the pilot censuses, the census working stuff accumulated working experiences, this lay a sound basis for smoothly implementation of the census.
5. Carried out large scale field enumeration work. In January 1997, the field enumeration started at the same time nation wide, which involved more than 7 million census stuff members, 214 million rural households, 740 thousand administrative villages, 43 thousand towns and townships, 1400 thousand of town and township enterprises. After the field enumeration, the quality check and mutual check were carried out item by item, questionnaire by questionnaire according to the balance relations and regulations on manual logical check. If any problems were found, reinterview the household, revise the items according to the reality.
6. Organized manual tabulation of main indicators and evaluation of the results. In order to issue the results of the census as soon as possible, NACO selected 68 indicators for manual tabulation, and organized agricultural census offices at all levels to evaluate the results of the manual tabulation.
7. The computer tabulation of the census data is tensely ongoing. For data entry of 214 million questionnaires of rural households, the Optical Character Readers (OCR) techniques were adopted , all of the data processing work is planned to be finished in 1998.
As one of the largest statistical activities of the century, the first national census of agriculture has five basic characteristics:
1. Strong and powerful organization and leadership. The Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party and the State Council take agricultural census work seriously, mobilizing in person, hearing reports, giving instructions. The main leaders of the Party Committees and governments at all levels organized the census work in person, during the enumeration there are 1200 thousand person times for which the main leaders went deep into the field enumeration nation wide, of which 240 person times for provincial leaders and above, 6000 person times for prefecture leaders, this shows the characteristics that the census is a government behavior.
2. Wide range publicity. According to incomplete statistics, totally 90 thousand television programmes, 1760 thousand broadcasting programmes, 1080 thousand articles, 36 million slogans. The effective publicity work has dispelled people¡¯s worries, win the understanding and cooperation of the farmers with the agricultural census work.
3. Scientific working methods and means. In order to fulfill the giant systematic engineering, agricultural census offices at all levels adopted scientific working methods such as system theory, information theory etc. into the census work to ensure all working items connected each other, orderly operated. The OCR techniques is used to process the census data at first time, and the micro database for all rural households, villages, towns and townships, town and township enterprises will be established using advanced modern science and technology.
4. Necessary working conditions. In order to carry out the systematic engineering of the census, governments at all levels actively lay found for agricultural census to ensure the basic needs of the census, in accordance with the Documentation issued by the State Council (State Council¡¯s Document  No. 60 ). For the regions which the local finance are poor also gave inclining policies to the agricultural census.
5. A census working team of presenting with all respects and hardworking. The smoothly implementation of the census work cannot be separated from the hardworking of the thousands of enumerators and supervisors. In order to obtain real and reliable data, they were not afraid of fatigue, braved all difficulties, cautious and conscientious, working hard. There were many moving deeds springing up. Some of them contributed their money to the census, some of them protect the census questionnaires at first facing the earthquake, giving up their own belongings. Some of them remain at work when family members were sick. Many of them still at work with sick, some of them contributed their life to the census. Their respect spirit and outstanding work will be written to history together with the abundant achievements of the first national census of agriculture.
Through the first national census of agriculture, we have achieved substantial scientific, reliable and valuable basic data, basically know the basic resources of agriculture and rural economy, further understood the operation situation of rural social economy, mainly presented as following six aspect:
1. Knows the quantity and composition of agricultural and rural holdings;
2. Knows the quantity, quality, industrial and geographic distribution of rural labor engagement;
3. Knows the quantity and quality of main agricultural machinery and equipment;
4. Knows the quantity, quality and composition of cultivated land;
5. Knows rural social environment and infrastructure;
6. Knows the scale and socio-economic situations of towns.
In order to verify the quality of these census data, after the field enumeration, NACO organized post-enumeration survey nation wide in accordance with common international methods, adopting random start point, systematic sampling techniques, selected 201 counties (cities), 870 sub-districts, 40576 rural household. The results of PES shows that the error rate fall in the confident interval. This shows that the quality of field enumeration is high, and the data obtained is accurate and reliable. After PES, all regions carried out a variety of evaluation concerning with the data quality of manual tabulation in accordance with the facts, and reported the evaluation results to the local governments, and asked the opinions of related government agencies. Governments at all levels thought that the census results are realistic and reliable, reflected the actual situation the region.
The important results of the first national census of agriculture have important realistic meanings and deep historic meanings for accelerating the health development of agriculture, countryside, even the whole national economy:
Firstly, China is a large agricultural country, the most important situation is the situation of agriculture, countryside and peasants. Through the census we understand basic information of agricultural and rural economy, filled out the blank of basic data, offered the basic data for the party and government to understand the real situation about agriculture and rural economy, this is needed for policy-making and improvement of our basic national policies and development strategy for agriculture and countryside. It has very important meanings for the rapid and health development of agriculture, countryside, even the whole national economy in next century.
Secondly, The results of the census show that the information collected by current rural statistics is reliable generally, and had the irreplaceable functions in policy-making of the party and government leaders. But for a variety of social and historic reasons, there is no way to ensure the accuracy of some important data. The census obtained accurate basic data on agricultural holdings and cultivated land area, etc., formulated a complete set of basic data reflecting development status of agriculture and rural economy, offered policy-making facts for scientifically monitoring the status of rural economy, and realization degree of three step strategic objectives of the national economy, strengthening government¡¯s macro management and macro control, timely adjust the policies on investment and distribution of national economy, helping peasants from poor to rich and well living, ensuring the implementation of ¡°ninth five year¡± plan and far objectives of the year 2010.
At last, the census of agriculture lay a sound basis for the establishment of a integrated rural statistical system which fit the need of socialist market economic system, satisfy the requirements of new national economic accounts and in accordance with the international standards.