By MITCH LIES

Capital Press

WOODBURN, Ore. -- Thousands of miles from home, statisticians from Moldova toured Oregon farms last week learning the ins and outs of conducting an agricultural census.

The four government statisticians were hosted by Oregon-based USDA statisticians.

They are preparing for Moldova's first agricultural census.

The information will be used by government agencies, private industry and researchers, according to the statisticians.

"We want to find out the property structure in place in our country and the operational structure," said government consultant Valentina Nicolai through an interpreter.

The farming structure in Moldova has changed dramatically since the country gained its independence from the former Soviet Union in 1991, Nicolai said. Statisticians estimate the small country is home to 950,000 farms, many of them growing a diversified assortment of crops designed for home consumption.

The country formerly was home to large, state-run farms, she said.

Moldova, located in Eastern Europe between Romania and Ukraine, is approximately the size of the state of Maryland.

Crops grown there include wine grapes, several grains and walnuts.

Victoria Sirghi, who conducted a pilot agricultural census in one region of Moldova last year, said the hardest part of conducting a farm census will be convincing farmers to share information.

"They don't feel they need to disclose information," Sirghi said through an interpreter.

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