Balancing old and new, delicately
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CTA. 2001. Balancing old and new, delicately. Spore 94. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/46278
Internet URL: http://spore.cta.int/images/stories/pdf/old/spore94.pdf
The architects of the large meeting room at the CTA headquarters got it right with the design of its castle-like walls with high slit-like windows; the light cascades in, sometimes blindingly, a constant reminder of the world outside. Small wonder...
The architects of the large meeting room at the CTA headquarters got it right with the design of its castle-like walls with high slit-like windows; the light cascades in, sometimes blindingly, a constant reminder of the world outside. Small wonder then that topical issues such as poverty alleviation, environmental sustainability, gender strategies and the AIDS epidemic were high amongst the considerations of the 16th meeting of the CTA Advisory Committee held from 5 to 8 June 2001 in Wageningen. The Advisory Committee is appointed by the ACP-EU Committee of Ambassadors to provide the Centre with advice on fulfilling its mandate. Composed of specialists from a total of thirty ACP and EU States, the Committee elects its officers from its own members, ensuring a parity of ACP and EU representation by rotating posts. The June meeting elected Mr J Flanagan (Eire) as its chairperson in succession to Ms T Ngomane (South Africa), and Mr J-P Toïhen (Benin) as vice chair. Two members were elected to Restricted Group: Ms H Boulkou (Greece) and Mr W Gibson (Trinidad and Tobago.) This group acts on behalf of the full Advisory Committee in between the annual meetings. The major tasks for the Advisory Committee were to comment on the Strategic Plan which had been developed following the Cotonou Agreement of June 2000, and its translation into a draft programme of activities, starting in 2002. CTA proposed that it should to work through three operational programmes, with support from planning and corporate services. The first programme would be known as the Information Products and Services Programme (IPSP) which pulls together the production and dissemination of information by CTA in printed and electronic form. The Communication Channels and Services programme would focus principally on promoting the use of electronic communication at the service of agriculture and rural development: radio, TV, Internet and electronic networks. The ICM Skills and Systems Programme would concentrate on providing training and integrated support to local and national organisations in ACP States on information and communication management. A provider and an enabler The task of CTA, Mr Flanagan told Spore, is to make available information and to help those who need it to use it. The problem, he said, is not the lack of information, since there is already much information in existence which is very useful for, for example, policy making or targeting the rural poor or achieving food security. The problem is that it is under-utilised, and the challenge is to make it known and make it available. With the increasing inclusion of information and communication technologies in agricultural information, it is important to strike a delicate balance between the new technologies (read: online, computer-linked) and their management on the one hand, and the old technologies of books and CD-ROMs. 'We have to be at the forefront of the new, and we cannot abandon the old' he emphasised, referring to the Centre s continuing role as a provider of information, and an enabler of information management.' Both old and new have their place in CTA s future thrusts, he made clear, as do the more-established approaches practised by CTA of encouraging the exchange of information: study visits and seminars to name but two. For the Centre, the challenge is to adapt its obvious skills in networking to the context where ICTs are more important, and to assist its partners in tailor-making those ICTs, or customising them, and helping partners in the selection, management and communication of information and data. Similarly, the growing presence of NGOs and civil society organisations on the development stage requires that CTA will have to evolve its policies to meet their needs in a different way. Challenges galore, and a modern and clearly evolutionary approach to continuing to be of service; those are the bright lights which can back shine out of that meeting room to the world beyond.