16 January 2006

Agricultural information actors and needs in the Caribbean

The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) recently published a series of reports on the agricultural information situation in Caribbean countries. All the reports can be found via CTA's virtual resource centre - http://www.anancy.net/.

Overall findings for the Caribbean are grouped according to information needs, information management capacity and information sources.

On information needs in the region, the findings indicate that institutions in the countries studied encountered difficulties in obtaining nationally generated data and information. Information on markets, market trends, current information on trade and trade agreements were important to all countries especialy those seeking to diversify away from sugar and bananas. Information on conferences, workshops trade fairs and commodity profiles was required across all institutions and countries. Three countries indicated that there was need for the adaptation and repackaging of information taking into account conditions in the local environment as well as the needs of target groups.

On information management capacity in the region, deficiencies are due to the lack of or sub-optimal allocation of human, physical infrastructure and/or financial resources. Each report indicated that there were no information policies and/or strategies to guide institutional information management processes. In all countries there are institutions with some capability for information and communication management. However the required mix of equipment and trained human resources is lacking. Institutions also lack capacity for continuing development and maintenance of websites, resulting in little or no information exchange on their websites.

On information sources in the region, agricultural ministries were important sources of information for all respondents. Input suppliers were identified as another source of information. CARDI and IICA were also cited as important information sources. While the Internet has become a popular source for identifying relevant information, many institutions cannot make full use of opportunities presented by ICTs due to lack of equipment and trained manpower. Therefore full exploitation of the benefits of electronic networking cannot be realised.

The following reports are available: Caribbean overview; Antigua & Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Suriname.




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