The purpose of this paper is to describe systematically a set of simple uses of the more commonly available data series and surveys. They are simple calculations and interpretations that help develop an understanding of the current structure and historical evolution of an agricultural sector and a nation's food supplies, and they often have considerable relevance to policy concerns. Most of them are fairly well known procedures, but some of their extensions and interpretations do not appear to be so well known. And, surprisingly, for most countries very few of these procedures have been carried out, or at least they are not systematically developed and kept up to date.

Examples of the calculations are coefficients of economic protection rates (for more than one year), comparative advantage indicators, indicators of trends in nutrient availability over time, sources-of-growth calculations, and indexes of the purchasing power of farm households