25 August 2008

Japan congress opens in Atsugi

Atsugi, Japan, 25 August 2008. This morning, the World Conference on Agricultural Information and IT was officially opened.

IAALD President Peter Ballantyne welcomed participants, warmly welcoming them to this 12th World Congress of IAALD.

At the end of his remars, see below, he posed participants an ‘Atsugi Question’: “How can we make agricultural information and IT truly accessible?” - asking people to reflect on this and share their thoughts during the congress.

text of the remarks by Peter Ballantyne:

"The first IAALD world congress was held in 1955 in Belgium. Since then, IAALD has held world congresses in Germany, the USA, France, Mexico, the Philippines, Canada, Hungary, Australia, Senegal, and the USA. In 2010, we will return to France.

This is the first time that IAALD has come all the way to Japan; it is also the first time that we joined up with our colleagues from INFITA to hold a world congress on agricultural information and IT.

As our good friend Takashi Nagatsuka from JAALD has said, this joint congress is a step forward for the information management and information technology communities – IAALD with AFITA; JAALD with JSAI, together we can combine our efforts, pool our resources, and fuse together our different and complementary expertise. Let us use this chance to cross-fertilize across and among the many types of information and communication professionals here represented. I urge us all to seek out and make contact with our neighbours!

This is a very opportune moment for us to meet: AFITA, IAALD, INFITA, JAALD, JSAI, NARO, Tokyo University of Agriculture, and the World Congress on Computers in Agriculture – This group of 8, this G8, is a chance for us to take up some of the challenges recently identified by another group of 8 who met in Hokkaido in July.

Their ‘Statement on Global Food Security’, among other things calls for actions to:

“promote agricultural research and development, and the training of a new generation of scientists and experts ... focusing on the dissemination of improved, locally adapted and sustainable farming technologies”

It also calls for actions to

“accelerate research and development and increase access to new agricultural technologies to boost agricultural production”

For me, these keywords – dissemination and access – of technologies, knowledge, and information, are at the core of this congress.

I wish express the appreciation of IAALD to some people present in this room.

Let me start with the closest to us – the Tokyo University of Agriculture. We very much enjoy these marvelous facilities; we very much appreciate the strong support provided by the University to our congress; we recognize the important role of the University in promoting agricultural information in Japan. Thank You.

I am sure that very few of us visiting Japan from abroad have previously visited this city of Atsugi. I have found this to be a friendly city, an eco-friendly city, a visitor-friendly city. It also seems to be an information- and an agriculture-friendly city where we can feel at home and relaxed, and stimulated to share and learn with our colleagues, and indeed with the people in this city. Thank You.

I would like to express our great appreciation to our colleagues working in agricultural information here in Japan – especially the members of JAALD and JSAI. It was truly impressive to see the hard effort and dedication of the many people who worked through the weekend to get this congress ready for us today. And of course, the work has been going on a lot longer than just this weekend. An international meeting like this requires dedicated individuals and organizations, on the ground, to make a success. I am sure this week will be such as a success! Thank you!

However, the most important asset in this room is you, us, the participants. Thank you for investing your time and energy to get here; let us work hard, let us be accessible with each other, openly sharing and disseminating our knowledge. Let us also enjoy ourselves in this wonderful country!

Finally, before I close, I want to pose us all a question. I want to pose us all an ‘Atsugi Question’: “How can we make agricultural information and IT truly accessible?”

I have asked some colleagues to circulate among us this week, asking you for your answers! Let’s see what new and interesting ideas we can generate here in Atsugi!

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