Years ago, a farm wife told this reporter how she explicitly told a census taker on the phone: "I'll tell you the truth this time, but I can't promise you I will next time. And I know most of my neighbours don't.
"When the census taker asked why, the woman replied: "Because we tell you we're growing such-and-such a crop, and then the buyers know. Then they won't give us a good price for it because they know there's a lot out there."
Legally, however, the questions must be answered. The 2021 version of the mandatory survey, which is conducted every five years, has 74 questions covering 33 pages. The revised version was created following extensive consultations in 2017. The new set of questions was sent to 10,000 farmers in 2019 on a voluntary basis, but only 3,864 responded.