31 August 2006

Strengthening agricultural knowledge capacities

The draft chapter 8 of the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development discusses ways to strengthen capacities to generate, disseminate, access, adopt and improve agricultural knowledge, science and technology (AKST).

A sub-chapter discusses 'information and communication technologies for knowledge sharing and exchange.' The authors argue that a "new paradigm for improved knowledge access, sharing and exchange is rapidly emerging" and that "strengthening equitable access to information, especially through the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) and enabling learning opportunities is the fundamental basis for any effort to satisfy the emerging demands by agricultural communities for knowledge."

The authors identify 6 important issues concerning the implementation of agricultural information systems (AIS):
    "The first is that there are few accepted, widespread frameworks to describe and analyze AIS. This makes it difficult to discuss issues related to further development of these systems. Second, there are several systems and initiatives to provide agricultural information systems at the global level. There is very little integration and collaboration between these systems leading to significant duplication of efforts and access to information. Third, there are also fewer AIS at the regional, sub-regional and local levels. Fourth, some of the global and international systems are more evolved in their architecture, design and access than others. Fifth, there is great heterogeneity in the availability of information through ICT enabled AIS within and across regions, at the national and, apparently, at local community levels. Sixth, the NARS have till now generally failed to provide information useful to agricultural communities through ICT enabled AIS."
The authors also list some important questions that remain unanswered concerning the effective use of ICT for agricultural development:
  • What are the 'real' information, knowledge and skills needs of agricultural communities?
  • What are the appropriate policies to enable improved access to the information which agricultural and rural communities need?
  • What are the appropriate ICTs for each community and how to make the best choice of ICTs to address the information needs of an agricultural community?
  • What capacities, in terms of infrastructure and skills, need to be developed in various AIS components, i.e. ARD organizations, information platforms, the information bus, the information and knowledge intermediaries and the user communities?
Readers are invited to view the draft chapter (in PDF format) and provide comments using the templates provided (Before 25 September 2006).




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