Irrigating agriculture with information
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CTA. 1993. Irrigating agriculture with information . Spore 46. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/49176
regional workshop on 'Agricultural information needs for West African Countries'. The workshop was jointly organized by CTA and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and took place between 11-14 May 1993 Banjul, the Gambia.
Agriculture should be irrigated by a flow of varied information, appropriate to the differing needs of those who work in the field of rural development,' said Mr Djibril Sene, former Minister of Research in Senegal, as he opened a regional workshop on 'Agricultural information needs for West African Countries'. The workshop was jointly organized by CTA and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and took place between 11-14 May Banjul, the Gambia. All people immediately involved in rural development were represented at the centre of the debate: farmers; trainers; policy makers; extension workers; researchers; information specialists, and representatives of regional and international organizations. Eighty professionals from 15 countries in the region met in Banjul to work out 'a concerted programme of scientific and technical information for West Africa, relying on partnership, and supporting networks'. Mr Kebba T Jammeh, Gambian Deputy Minister for Agriculture, pointed out that policy-makers are required to make important decisions which they cannot make effectively without accurate, clear and wide ranging information. For their part, a number of representatives of farmers and extension workers urged the need for new ideas to overcome the loss of many government services which have disappeared as a result of structural adjustment. It was pointed out that the obstacles to the effective circulation of information included the paucity of human and other resources and the lack of trained personnel. But the poor support received by the producers of information, particularly researchers and farmers whose knowledge and experience could serve as a good basis for sound agricultural and research policy, was also deplored. Attention was drawn to the problem of 'translating' information from source to user in a comprehensible form which can be used by different target groups. When targeting farmers with a low level of literacy, rural radio was considered to be of great value. One of the recommended solutions was to increase the exchange of information between partners, particularly in view of new information, technology, and storage and retrieval systems. But an essential recommendation was the need to increase the amount of information available to all levels of society including agricultural producers, described as 'barefoot research workers' by one of the workshop participants. At the close of the workshop, participants set up a regional evaluation, planning and follow-up committee charged with the task of monitoring agricultural information activities in West Africa. The committee will also be responsible for translating the main recommendations of the meeting into concrete action programmes, and monitoring and evaluating these programmes. The ad hoc committee identified the following initial activities for the first phase of the programme: to reinforce training in scientific and technological writing; carry out an inventory of existing activities and experience in functional literacy campaigns; to improve the utilization of rural radio in agricultural extension; and to prepare and distribute a practical training manual for agricultural information users. CTA's Director, Mr Assoumou Mba, reminded participants that CTA had been created specifically to serve the scientific and technical information needs of ACP States. It was for this reason that particular importance was attached to the workshop which is part of a new approach to planning CTA activities, which is based on actual expressed needs of the Centre's target groups. A similar workshop was held last year in Libreville, Gabon, for Central Africa, and another is to be held shortly in the Seychelles to identify the agricultural information needs of East Africa and to formulate a joint strategy for meeting them.