Knowledge for Development

Relevant Publications

A sourcebook for decision makers on how to improve livestock data

This sourcebook on livestock data, published by the World Bank, FAO and ILRI, summarises the activities and outputs of the Livestock in Africa: Improving Data for Better Policies project. It provides guidance to decision makers responsible for collecting and analysing livestock data from different perspectives on how to systematically address livestock data-related issues within the context of the national agricultural statistical system. In particular, it first develops the skeleton of a sound livestock statistical system – consistent with the demand of livestock information by stakeholders and the principles of the Global Strategy to Improve Agricultural and Rural Statistics (World Bank, 2011). It then presents a sample of methods and tools – and associated examples – designed to improve the quantity and quality of livestock data available to decision makers.   (FAO, 2014)  


Achieving effective information programmes under economic and financial constraints

Effective information programmes include policies, partnerships, end user involvement, and capacity-building. Information is rapidly becoming a major economic factor but it is underappreciated on the African continent. Development information needs to be delivered in a more convenient, faster, and less expensive fashion and, therefore, the pace of the information revolution in Africa must be enhanced. Factors conducive to effective information programmes include policies, partnerships, end user involvement, and capacity-building. Cost-effective approaches to providing information include co-ordinating agricultural research through regional bodies, use of new technologies such as telecentres and the Internet, sponsorship to provide information sources, charging for information, repackaging information, and considering appropriate information technologies. From authors' summary.


Agricultural information management: systems and services

Information management issues related to the systems and services within the National Agricultural Research System (NARS) of India are discussed. The vastness of the Indian NARS and existing agricultural information needs are described. Connectivity issues within the NARS are examined. The Agricultural Research Information System (ARIS) as it exists today under the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), along with the current level of information exchange that takes place through the ARIS network, is described. The emerging needs of the Project Information Management System (PIMS) are explored along with the current projects on PIMS and the Integrated National Agricultural Resources Information System (INARIS), a data warehouse project under the National Agricultural Technology Project (NATP). The achievements with respect to PIMS are presented and an action plan for further developments is outlined. The data warehouse tools and action plan for the INARIS project are also elaborated. From author's summary.


Asia/Pacific (Excluding Japan)

Assessment of the regional market for information and data management systems, current situation and trends


Assessment of the readiness of libraries in Uganda, Kenya, and Ethiopia to access online scientific information resources

Scientific literature tools based on CD-ROMs fulfil important function in the transitional to broadband Internet access The readiness of agricultural research organizations in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Uganda to access online scientific resources was assessed. The findings indicated that although information and communication technology infrastructure in these institutions is improving, most Internet access is still handled via dial-up connections that are expensive and too slow to download PDF files, or to search online databases. Although connectivity options are rapidly improving, experiences in many developing country institutions confirm that deploying functional and reliable connectivity is a complex undertaking that may take considerable time and effort and that depends on the availability of skilled human resources as well as the implementation of proper institutional policies and procedures. For this reason, scientific literature tools based on CD-ROMs are fulfilling an important function in the transitional phase and should continue to be deployed widely. However, in parallel, online tools like AGORA should be promoted widely, particularly in libraries that have functional broadband Internet access. The AGORA (Access to Global Online Research in Agriculture) programme is an initiative to promote the use of online journals in low-income countries. From author's summary.


Building knowledge systems in agriculture: Five key areas for mobilising the potential of extension and advisory services

Extension and rural advisory services (RAS) are crucial to putting farmers’ needs at the centre of rural development, ensuring sustainable food security and poverty reduction, and dealing with risks and uncertainty.Knowledge-sharing mechanisms must focus on critical areas including protecting natural resources, productive farming processes, product development, marketing skills, nutritional needs, and household health. There is renewed attention on the importance of advisory services and extension in rural development processes. This paper, based on the publication ‘Mobilizing the potential of rural and agricultural extension’ (FAO, 2010) focuses on five opportunities to mobilise the potential of extension and advisory services. The five areas are: (i) focusing on best-fit approaches; (ii) embracing pluralism; (iii) using participatory approaches; (iv) developing capacity; and (v) ensuring long-term institutional support.(GFRAS, 20/6/2012)


Decision makers and agricultural information in Africa

The Internet is perhaps the only potential solution to the inadequate provision of information to agricultural decision-makers in Africa. Many countries in Africa now have full connectivity. Information generated all over the world and made available on the Internet can now be accessed by decision-makers. The many agricultural information discussion groups on the Internet can ensure that decisions by government planners and managers of agribusiness are based on adequate information. Decision-makers need to be trained on how to surf the Internet, and they should subscribe to the numerous discussion groups on agriculture on the Internet. Agricultural institutions that generate information must create their web sites to make this information available worldwide. This will ensure that decision-makers have access to information generated locally and abroad. Agricultural information personnel must be well trained on how to search the relevant web sites on the Internet for appropriate information, and they need to be trained on how to repackage information obtained from the Internet so as to be able to present concise information to decision-makers. From author's summary.


Effective information and knowledge delivery in the electronic age

The role of information and communication technologies (ICTs) is discussed from the standpoint of an information provider, CAB International, a not-for-profit organization. The advent of the Internet has meant a rethink of publishing initiatives in a variety of ways. The need for continuing sustainability has encouraged a mix of income from subscriptions, pay-per-view and sponsorship. Expectations of integrated content have led to the generation of a wider range of content types, along with the re-purposing of information and collaboration with, or linking to, other providers to gain critical mass. Authors are questioning the role of the publisher and the allocation of copyright, especially in the scientific, technical, and medical arena. The need to invest in technology is critical yet difficult at a time when costs associated with print cannot be discontinued. The development of effective ICTs is expensive and therefore should be collaborative with different organizations working together to understand their own competitive advantages, their own customers and the value that they each add to the information chain. Only through such concerted effort can information be passed on effectively to enhance the knowledge of those who are central to the improvement of rural livelihoods. From author's summary.


Enhancing germplasm utilization to meet specific user needs through interactive stratified core selections

A computer-based stratified selection methodology that allows users to create focused selections of the germplasm with a broad representation of the diversity in the domain of interest is described. It was developed for the germplasm collection of sorghum, pearl millet, chickpea, pigeon pea, and groundnut, which is maintained at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) under an agreement signed with FAO and Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). It contains in excess of 111 000 accessions. The size of the stratified selection can be chosen to be between 1 and 10% of the total collection size. The user can choose the selection algorithms based on either the proportional or logarithmic sampling strategy. The system selects a minimum of 1 entry/group to ensure the representation of small groups. Both the information on the accessions and the stratified core selection program are available on the Internet.


Enhancing the timeliness and relevance of food and nutrition security information

Food and Nutrition Security Information (FNSI) is a critical tool for achieving food and nutrition security, yet FNSI efforts to date have not produced the intended  impacts on policy and programme decision making, largely due to shortcomings in available technologies and frameworks. This article by Nancy Mock and  colleagues from Tulane University reviews the evolution of FNSI efforts in the context of emerging technology and data collection techniques. A conceptual framework  is provided to describe the evolution towards an FNSI characterised by integrating conventional and novel approaches to the collection, analysis and communication  of information into a value stream that supports decision making to achieve food security.    (Global Food Security, Vol. 2 Iss. 1, 01/03/2013)   


Farmers information and search needs

This case study published by IFPRI is about public agricultural extension systems and the inadequate consultation of farmers about their information needs and poor understanding of their information search strategies. The authors believe that in discussing and implementing extension programmes and advisory services, the following questions need to be addressed: What information do the farmers need? How and where do they search for information? What factors determine their search behaviour? How much are they willing to pay for information? While the first two questions are addressed fairly well in the literature, the latter two have not yet been dealt with in the context of developing countries. (IFPRI, 2012)


Global agricultural knowledge sharing: the CGIAR libraries consortium

CGIAR pools resources and moves towards developing strategies to share agricultural knowledge within and beyond the system. Information and communication technologies affect not only the areas within organizations that address information processes and services but they have an impact on organizations as a whole. The new technologies facilitate broader access and distribution of information through the Internet. The libraries and information services of the 16 centres of the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) are working together to share resources and make the information and knowledge of all CGIAR centres accessible to the world through a common Internet portal. The initiatives of the information management professionals in CGIAR are outlined to pool their resources and move towards developing strategies to share agricultural knowledge within and beyond the system. Subjects discussed include: the formation of a community of practice; the knowledge sharing initiative; the organization of a consortium to share resources; and, the constraints and challenges to achieving such a consortium. From authors' summary.


Guidelines for assessing nutrition-related knowledge, attitudes and practices

The FAO Guidelines for assessing nutrition-related knowledge, attitudes and practices is a reference guide and practical tool for conducting high-quality surveys of nutrition- and health-related knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAP) at the community level. The manual is written for people in charge of planning, implementing and evaluating food security and nutrition projects; these include project managers, nutritionists, health workers, planning and evaluation specialists and many others. The manual includes definitions and key indicators for nutrition- and health-related knowledge, attitudes and practices. It provides useful guidance for planning and conducting a KAP survey, and for analysing and reporting the survey results. The manual also provides model questionnaires (modules) to help standardise survey efforts across the world.    (FAO, 2014)  


Histoire de la recherche agricole en Afrique tropicale francophone

Histoire de la recherche agricole en Afrique tropicale francophone traces the path taken by agricultural research over thousands of years. It shows the route taken by technological development, which was initially ‘obscure and silent’, towards organised, scientific research, which became established as of the end of the 19th century, with a constant objective: to satisfy people's food, economic, social and cultural requirements. The six volumes of a history of agricultural research in French-speaking tropical Africa are now online on the FAO archives website.


How can information and communication technologies make a difference to the rural poor?

The International Fund for Agricultural Development's (IFAD) approach to the use of information and communication technology (ICT) to support development initiatives is to focus on people and not technology, putting emphasis on communication processes and on learning and sharing. IFAD considers participation, horizontal sharing of knowledge, and respect for diversity and culture to be key to social change, and fundamental to its commitment to strengthen the capacity of rural poor people and their organizations to overcome poverty. Information and communication technologies can be used to stimulate social change and empower poor people economically, socially and politically. IFAD will create the Rural Poverty Portal, an interactive Internet-based tool to connect individuals and organizations with the information and knowledge they need to eradicate rural poverty. From author's summary.


Impact of organic agriculture on economic development in Africa

The publication represents a selection of some of the research studies presented at the international conference on ‘Mainstreaming Organic Agriculture in the African Development Agenda’ and includes a paper ‘Information for Better Yields and New Markets’ by the International Institute for Communication and Development IICD in The Hague.(IICD, 11/06/2013)


Important changes to the Botanical Code

The XVIII International Botanical Congress held in Melbourne, Australia in July 2011 approved sweeping changes to the way scientists name new plants, algae, and fungi. The changes will allow online-only publication of names of new taxa from 1 January 2012. Electronic material published online in Portable Document Format (PDF) with an International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) or an International Standard Book Number (ISBN) will constitute effective publication. The requirement for a Latin description or diagnosis for names of new taxa of algae, fungi, and plants will be changed to a requirement for a description or diagnosis in either Latin or English. In addition, effective from 1 January 2013, new names of organisms treated as fungi must, in order to be validly published, include in the protologue (everything associated with a name at its valid publication) the citation of an identifier issued by a recognized repository.(Eurekalert, 14/9/2011)


Industry news via the internet

News bulletin service to Australian rice growers via the Ricegrowers' Association (RGA) website In 200 a pilot project to provide a news bulletin service to Australian rice growers via the Ricegrowers' Association (RGA) website was carried out. First, a subgroup of the Rice Research and Development Committee identified a preferred approach based on its perceived cost-effectiveness and "best fit" with growers needs. The primary aim of the pilot was to help growers manage the increasing amounts of information from various sources they need to process if they are to operate their rice business in the most effective and efficient manner. Software included a database module known as SoW and a rice industry specific search engine, the RIO. The challenges that had to be overcome included: growers' inexperience with the Internet; a fear of the technology; matching the very low allocation of time given to reading such information; and, supplying information growers would find of value. E-mail addresses for over 400 growers were collected and a person was assigned to collect articles and place them on the website. After 7 bi-weekly editions, questionnaire results showed that almost 100% of the respondents were very satisfied with the system.