In keeping with a primary objective of the Hector Kobbekaduwa Agrarian Research and Training Institute (HARTI), that is to become a centre for collecting, updating, analyzing and dissemination of information on the agrarian sector, Statistics and Data Processing Division (SDPD) was established to make a concerted effort to accomplish the above goal. Apart from storing and analyzing of data gathered in socio-economic surveys conducted by the institute, the following three goals of the division would essentially support in achieving the institutional goals.

  • To be a national centre of excellence in agricultural information management.
  • To be a key division for the enhancement of quality of research and training activities through application of statistics and information technology.
  • To enhance the automated information processing systems at its best by adopting current information and communication technology tools and techniques.

The division comprises two units: namely the Data Development and Data Processing. Later a Computer Technology Unit was also established at the division to provide services on computer and networking infrastructure facilities as required by the Institute.

Data Development Unit

A Data Bank was established as a ‘National Centre for Information Development’ in 1979. The primary objective of this centre is to facilitate access to information of relevance in agrarian development and related fields. To fulfill this objective, the Centre functions as a repository, collection agency and service bureau and this has been perceived as a facility for social science research, planning and policymaking for development in the agrarian sector. Further the Data Bank i.e. the National Centre is specially designed to play the role of a comprehensive source of statistical information to government officials, policymakers, researchers and other interested parties and to coordinate the dissemination of information in a useful manner.

The data bank comprises two forms of data; development indicators and survey archives. The development indicators are the secondary statistics collected from government agencies on various attributes and survey archives include primary data generated through field surveys conducted by the Institute. The data bank also provides consultancy, user and supplier education, training in computer use and an awareness service to assist in the retrieval and processing of information. Although agriculture, fisheries, forestry and industries were the potential areas at the time of establishment, priority was given to information on the agricultural sector. It was contemplated that comprehensive coverage of varied aspects of agrarian development and living conditions of farm households can be carried out under the agricultural sector. Thus a growing amount of district-wise information collected monthly, seasonally and annually for around 1800 of indicators falls into following broad categories.

No.

Description

 

No.

Description

01

Population

 

02

Employment

03

Operators

 

04

Land Use /Tenure

05

Land Settlement

 

06

Land Reform

07

Propagation Materials

 

08

Farm Machinery and Equipment

09

Draught / Animal Power

 

10

Fertilizer

11

Agro Chemicals

 

12

Crops / Animal Husbandry

13

Production

 

14

Cost of Production

15

Marketing

 

16

Processing

17

Cost of Processing

 

18

Credit

19

Security

 

20

Subsidies

21

Income

 

22

Consumption

23

Extension Services and Information

 

24

Institutions and Social Organizations

25

Education and Training

 

26

Research

27

Legislation

 

28

Investments (Foreign and Local)

Data is available with regard to the crops specified under 11 major crop groups; such as cereals, vegetables, fruits, tuber roots, livestock, industrial crops, spices, legumes, oil seeds, plantation and other crops. Currently, the centre consists of approximately two and half millions of records stored both in manual and computerized forms starting from 1950s. Accordingly, HARTI Information Centre maintains a database with district-wise information collected from diverse sources such as the Central Bank, Department of Customs, Department of Census and Statistics, Department of Agriculture and the Marketing and Food Policy Division of HARTI. Building of databases and processing of data involve collecting, editing, coding verification, storing and manipulating to facilitate quantitative information to users in different levels. An automated system has been implemented in the division for accessing information in the databases. Further, certain information in high demand is stored in the website. External and internal users could directly contact the SDP division to obtain agricultural information.

Data Processing Unit

By aiming at the second and third goals of the SDPD the Data Processing Unit was established and it is a technical unit designed to carry out the following major functions.

  • Updating and maintaining computerized agricultural database.

Once the data is manipulated from data development unit technical support is provided by the data processing unit to update and maintain the database efficiently. Certain interrelated activities between these two units in terms of verification and filling of gaps in series of data take place. Data retrieval facilities have been incorporated through customized software running on LAN and the institute website.

  • Analyzing of sample survey data collected from field surveys by HARTI.

This is one of the main activities assigned to the unit and the task involves coding, verification, validation, designing of databases, entering and cleaning of data before analysis. The duration needed to complete the analysis of a study depends on the size of the questionnaire, complexity, volume and the requirement. All analysis and tabulations are performed using statistical analysis methods and statistical software applications with the support of necessary programming techniques.

  • Undertaking the analyzing of sample survey data collected by external organizations.

This is also a form of technical support available for external resources in terms of designing databases, data feeding and analysis of data.

 

  • In-House software development

Another function is identifying in-house software requirements, designing, developing and implementing them accordingly. System developments for storing and manipulating metadata are also important requirements. To fulfill these objectives the division is planning with the management to increase the number of relevant officers and to conduct capacity building programmes.

  • Development of data archives systems for research studies completed by the institution.

     This is vital for those conducting research on parallel objectives in different           areas and also in different situations. Past data archives system offers a   comprehensive picture about history and the literature review too.

Computer Technology Unit

 

The unit is established for providing technical support to the institution with regard to computers, networks and related peripherals and support on software tools needed for operation of computer systems. A workshop has been set up to undertake all repairs and trouble shooting. The unit also takes the responsibility of providing procurement assistance making recommendations for IT peripherals to be purchased. Web development and maintenance activities are also assigned to this unit. Implementation of computer networks within the institution is also performed here.            

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At a time when the attention of the scientific community was focused on technological advances in agriculture based primarily on the development of high yielding varieties, it came to be perceived that social, economic and institutional factors required equal attention if such technological advances were to serve farmers and consumers alike over the long term. The HARTI was established in order to generate a range of policy analysis that would cover those key determinants of human and resource development in the agrarian sector. The institute was established in 1972 as a statutory board in collaboration with the UNDP/FAO, which functions under the Ministry of Agriculture.
It has developed into the premier national Institute in the field of socio-economic research relating to the use of land and water in Sri Lanka and has also developed the requisite skills and infrastructure for providing relevant training to farmers, field workers and managers in both the state and non-state sectors. The name of the Institute was changed as Hector Kobbekaduwa Agrarian Research and Training Institute in February 1995.

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