The politics of seduction
MetadataShow full item record
CTA. 2003. The politics of seduction. Spore 105. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/47986
Internet URL: http://spore.cta.int/images/stories/pdf/old/spore105.pdf
CTA s Annual Report 2002 is a fine example of the liven it up strategy being followed by those organisations which are not, as many are these days, cutting their annual report down to a financial statement.
CTA s Annual Report 2002 is a fine example of the liven it up strategy being followed by those organisations which are not, as many are these days, cutting their annual report down to a financial statement. There are changes in appearance, in tone and in posture, all of which make it an even more attractive, informative read than in earlier years. Some changes are striking, others strive to be subtle. Gone is the Special Paper; the report s own texts have become more politically explicit and thematically more assertive. The political focus of the Cotonou Agreement in particular, as Director Carl B. Greenidge makes clear in his introduction, is high on the list of new or prominent elements in CTA s mandate, highlighting partnerships, food security, gender and agricultural policy. Indeed, the report is imbued with a politician s terms such as "turf" and CTA?s "constituency" (the definition ? "ACP farmers and rural dwellers" ? is the clearest ever). And the text on electronic communication reveals an unusually explicit reasoning for its prominence in CTA?s mandate: "Used well, its value lies not only in providing information for and about the poor in developing countries, but also, and more importantly, in communicating information from the poor." Vigorous print programme Gone too are the smiling group photos from seminars, descriptions of co-seminars and abstracts of new publications (find them in the new publications catalogue, in print and online). Most of these, and even many partnerships, have been reduced to functional tables and lists. The space thus gained has been well used, with lively essays and ?highlights?. An essay on Spore distribution through electronic media and satellite broadcasts is followed by a feisty discussion of copyright issues in the age of electronic communication, reaffirming CTA?s traditional position as a ?thinker? in the world of ACP publishing. Other essays embrace gender issues, rural radio and a review of work on evaluating the impact of information provision. Highlights include the notion of social capital and a birds-eye view of the CTA seminar on effective ACP participation in multilateral trade negotiations. Whilst the digital dimension is pervasive ? in the emerging ?virtual library? and electronic fora, training programmes, trade information and partnerships ? there are words of assurance for people on the wrong side of the ?rural digital divide?: "While many ACP countries are struggling to move into the digital information age and continue to rely heavily on the printed word, CTA will continue with its vigorous print programme." But what did you do? What actually got done in 2002? There?s a nice touch of a daily diary, listing visits and events. As well as CTA?s annual seminar, there were 14 co-seminars with 3,568 participants where CTA was a core sponsor and organiser. The numbers of ACP nationals sponsored to participate in (usually scientific) third-party conferences, seminars and workshops rose to 222 people going to 39 events (2001: 189 people to 42 events). There was an enhanced global perspective here: 111 people (2001: 71) went to 25 meetings (2001: 22) outside ACP countries. In these events, as in training courses and two study visits, the follow-up of participants was emphasised to optimise lessons learned and to maximise communication. And communication, with networking, was the underlying theme of the 19 CTA training courses, and six others held by partners with, in all, 231 participants. Many CTA courses on such themes as public awareness, proposal writing, policy networking and biometrics (statistics) are repeated in different regions. The seeds sown in 1998 for decentralising CTA?s Question-and-Answer Service to ACP information centres are now bearing fruit: the five major centres handled 2,800 enquiries, split between extension workers, farmers, technicians, researchers, policy-makers, teachers, librarians and students. In co-publishing, 35 titles (including separate language editions) were added to CTA?s list, with additions to the Agrodoks and Tropical Agriculturalist series, a dozen technical titles and nine co-seminar reports. CTA?s own output (now consistently in print and digital versions) focused mainly on the Annual Report, a public awareness manual, reports and proceedings of seminars and study visits, and the Spore range of products, together with groundwork for more coordination and quality assurance in the emergence of electronic publications and the blossoming CTA Website. Behind all this lies more hard work on refining distribution, visible in the controlled growth of subscribers to Spore and the Publications Distribution Service, and in the slight drop in publications (74,050) distributed in response to almost 21,000 requests. This also reflects growing demand for CTA publications on its Website; the online catalogue, and Spore Index, both prepared during 2002, will help access these even more. See clearly now This report gives the clearest signs yet of the openness implied in CTA?s efforts to become a learning, networking organisation. It talks frankly of the external and internal reviews of communication, project management and thematic consistency, and explains the improvements made in these fields, including greater emphasis on staff training. It has shed its previous coyness, and even devotes a page to the need to understand the perceptions that others have of it. And it finally lifts the veil on the budget ? saving Spore the task of explaining it ? giving expenditure by activity and the annual allocations of the t 70 million grant from the European Development Fund for the period 2001?2005. The same openness is enhanced on many pages by a freer, more accessible style. And on every page you will find the notion of circles, in a symbol of three concentric rings, evocative of ripples on water, of broadcasting and of the circles of life to which Spore often refers. The same circularity applies to the content: there is, for example, a strong statement of intent to re-instate science and technology as a core concern of the Centre, in both political and informational dimensions ? it was with the latter that CTA started almost 20 years ago. What this report shows, and exudes through its delightful cameos, is an organisation learning to be at one with itself and with its environment. Greenidge again: "The organisational shell was constructed, the skills put in place, the programmes examined and modified, and the seeds of a culture of integration planted. The full implementation of all this will happen in 2003." Come back next year, same time, same place. CTA Annual Report 2002 CTA, Wageningen, 2003. 104 pp. ISBN 92 9081 2710 CTA number 1129. 0 credit points. Downloadable in sections or in full (1.4 Mb) from www.cta.int