Information resources for agricultural development
MetadataShow full item record
CTA. 1987. Information resources for agricultural development. Spore 8. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/44600
A training seminar on this subject recently brought together about twenty African professionals, documentalists, engineers, agronomists, economists and sociologists in Dakar, Senegal from December 1 5-20, 1986. Organized by CTA in collaboration with t
Information collection and dissemination go hand in hand A training seminar on this subject recently brought together about twenty African professionals, documentalists, engineers, agronomists, economists and sociologists in Dakar, Senegal from December 1 5-20, 1986. Organized by CTA in collaboration with the International Federation of Librarians and Librarian Associations (IFLA), this seminar included participants from Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Central African Republic, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Gabon, Mali, Mauritania. Niger, Rwanda, Senegal and Togo. The main goal of this seminar was to try to strengthen local expertise in this field. It was thus based on the objectives of the participants themselves with an emphasis on the links between those who produce and process agricultural development information and those who use it. Whilst there is no doubt about the existence of reliable information sources vital for development purposes, they are often poorly known or infrequently used in Africa. Part of the problem is the lack of intermediary efforts to put potential users in contact with the producers and managers of such information. The seminar paid particular attention to reviewing information sources, primarily institutions and resource persons. Also included was any other information, no matter what the format, including many informal publications that are not frequently distributed. The difficulty with identifying information sources results mainly from the poor communication at national level between different agencies but such problems also exist at both regional and international levels. It should also be noted that SouthSouth interrelationships are not as smooth as North-South relations. After having established a summary chart of the various categories of information producers at national level, a discussion resulted in the development of a list of regional organizations involved with economic and social development in Africa. Given their large number, this approach required some organization. This consisted of the use of directories and listings which provide a more precise description of the operations of the various institutions, whether they be regional (e.g.CILLS, ADRAO, ECWA) or international (e.g., UN agencies, NGOs and development organizations). To obtain an exhaustive coverage of national sources in the context of international information transfer, it is necessary to ensure that all publications are properly referenced, particularly at local level. The seminar underlined the importance of acquisition catalogues for periodicals which would enable the users to know where they can find certain articles. The role of 'information networks' which promote information distribution and support easy access to information on specific topics was also stressed. As such networks are primarily concerned with the production and distribution of information, documentalists should work in close collaboration with the producers. By providing their services, documentalists are also able to benefit from a direct source of scientific information. Concerning the processing of secondary information sources, the seminar proposed an approach that enables the identification of data bases useful for rural development operations in Africa (e.g., AGRIS, FAIREC, IBISCUS, ATA, RESADOC) while emphasizing the fact that even if some of these sources cannot be accessed on-line, they nevertheless offer services that are both inexpensive and highly useful, such as national and specialized bibliographies and selected distribution of information After having selected those reference tools that are indispensable for the identification of sources and documentation, the seminar worked on developing a practical approach to designing specific reference tools. This involved the participants in exploring techniques to compile and systemize accessible resources, and this led to an examination of the difficulties of access to first hand and basic information. The conditions for a good system of access include the adaptation of production to needs, the improvement of distribution methods, the development and conservation of document collections, and the use of copyrights in each country. The means of access to documents and the presentation of suppliers of basic documentation completed the discussion of this subject. One of the recommendations of the seminar stressed the need for continuing education of information specialists. This is one of the reasons for CTA's involvement in the courses on information services management in Third World countries organized by the CAB International (CABI) and the International School of Bordeaux supported by the French Agency for Cultural and Technical Cooperation (ACCT). For further information, write to: Information Services C T A Postbus 380 6700 AJ Wageningen The Netherlands