An overview of agricultural information services in the Caribbean Presented by: Kathryn Duncan Information & Communications Specialist IICA Office in Trinidad and Tobago
The Caribbean Region Antigua & Barbuda The Bahamas Barbados Dominica The Dominican Republic Grenada Guyana CARICOM (Caribbean Common Market) and IICA Member States • Haiti • Jamaica • St. Kitts & Nevis • Saint Lucia • St. Vincent & the Greandines • Suriname • Trinidad & Tobago
Agriculture in the Caribbean Agriculture had fallen in stature as a mainstay of the economy and way of life however, with the effects of globalization, agriculture is once again being seen as a key contributor to or a source of: Food security Export earnings Poverty alleviation Sustainable development
Regional studies on agricultural information needs Needs assessment of agricultural information needs in the Caribbean. CTA/CARDI. 2005. Available on www.anancy.net Inventory and assessment of agricultural information systems in the Caribbean region. IICA. 2007 Introduces the rationale and framework for an M&E system that will try to pull all types of information together in a common framework to provide a more holistic analysis of the “situation in agriculture” in the Caribbean. Inventory of information sources and resources by country.
General Statement Inspite of several national and regional efforts, current information and intelligence systems in agriculture are weak, incomplete, non-integrated, with poor linkages between their various components. ‘Information’ one of the major binding constraints in the Jagdeo Initiative; MoAs still have underdeveloped capacity for building and managing information systems; Regional organisations still experience difficulties in sustaining regional information systems.
Issues and Challenges Non-existent or weak information policies Failure to sustain regional information networks Coordination and reactivation of national networks has varying success: Dom. Rep; Guyana; Jamaica; Suriname; Trinidad and Tobago Gaps in information Lack of qualified professionals in information units Understaffed “one-person” units Some limitations on ICT infrastructure There is still a lack of understanding and appreciation of ‘what’ and ‘why’ information is needed
General Statement Actors in the agri-food chain engage in a continuous search for information. That information must be credible, timely and must add value to the knowledge, experience and sometimes ‘gut feelings’ of policy makers, entrepreneurs, input and service suppliers and other actors in the chain.
Agricultural information needs as defined by sector1 Science of agriculture and food production Trade market information & market intelligence Business finance & risk management Socio-economic information Environment impact and intensive natural resource use Audience targeted information – conferences, training, trade fairs, etc. 1Inventory and Assessment of Agricultural Information Systems in the Caribbean Region - 2007
The Users Policy makers Researchers Extension personnel Information professionals Producers Consumers The Media
The Providers Ministries of Agriculture National Libraries/Documentation Centres Research Organizations Academic Institutions Agricultural agencies (international, regional and national) Networks, Industry Associations, Farmer Organizations The Media
Ministries of Agriculture Information Units, Communications and PR Departments, Extension & Training Divisions, Planning Division Typically - traditional library, or ‘documentation centre’ Strong in collection of information, generation of information products, history of service, personnel and ICT equipment. Capacity for training and audio-visual documentation and presentation of information.
Ministries of Agriculture Other smaller libraries may also exist in specialised organisations: research stations; commodity specific research and extension organisations such as sugar, coffee and cocoa; banana; dairy; cattle or small ruminants. Generally, these units have operated under human and financial resource limitations. Qualified staff, if present, are generally persons with information and library science background. Repackaging of information to meet the specific needs of the various consumers of agricultural information is done outside of this system.
Academic Libraries Well-established university libraries - Barbados, Dominican Republic, Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago Researchers, students, other libraries Loans, inter-library loans, document delivery services, OPAC, library instruction, research consultations, reference services, reprographic services, etc. online databases, websites, public education
Regional/International Agencies Strong presence of regional and international agriculture organizations in most Member States, e.g. Caribbean Agricultural Research & Development Institute (CARDI) Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) Researchers, consultants; students; farmers; other organizations; general public Access to a wealth of information sources and resources – local, regional and international Training and technical cooperation activities
Market Information Systems Grenada: Marketing and National Importing Board (MNIB) Jamaica: Agri-Business Information System (ABIS) Trinidad and Tobago: National Agricultural Marketing Information System (NAMIS) Participate in the Marketing Information Organization of the Americas (MIOA) The National Agricultural Marketing and Development Corporation (NAMDEVCO – NAMIS) is the current Chair of the MIOA
Directory of Sources Directory of Caribbean Agricultural Information Sources. 2009 Association of Caribbean University, Research and Institutional Libraries Coverage: English, French, Spanish and Dutch-speaking Caribbean Scope: Local offices of international and regional organizations; Ministries of Agriculture; Chambers of Commerce; Development Banks; Foundations; Farmers Associations; Rural NGOs, Libraries and Documentation Centres; Statistical Offices Limited print run – available on UWI website in November 2009
The Media Plays a key role as an information provider TV, radio and newspapers – first and only point of information for many agri producers and general consumers Media-Agriculture sector relationship varies from country to country Most report an increased coverage of agriculture stories by the media from issues/challenges to Government projects and agribusiness success stories Efforts to strengthen this relationship: Workshops – Grenada, Trinidad & Tobago, Brussels…
ICTs Infrastructure Generally very good access in MoAs, most institutions, homes and Internet cafes. Some countries still have problems of access – e.g. in rural areas. Usage Internet, TV, Radio widely used for disseminating and accessing information and news. Heavy use of cell phones – formal and informal information networks Content generation Websites – present – but not always current Web 2.0 tools increasing in popularity and use for developmental, professional and personal use (formal and informal) LinkedIn, Ning, Facebook, Blogger
SIDALC in the Caribbean? 10 years behind? Need to fit the pieces of the puzzle together!
SIDALC in the Caribbean? Dominican Republic Red de Documentación e Información Agropecuaria y Forestal-REDIAF 2000 Jamaica Agricultural Documentation and Information Network (JADIN) - 1999 Trinidad & Tobago Agricultural Library and Information Network of Trinidad and Tobago (ALINTT) – 2009 revitalisation
SIDALC in the Caribbean? Need to revisit the creation/reactivation of national networks – no matter how small; Increase communication and interaction among national networks Share experiences Build capacities Increase collaboration to address problems of scarce resources Forge linkages with other stakeholders and the media to have access to a wider range of information that exists Forge partnerships with some of our ‘traditional users’ who are now sources of information themselves Need to be more innovative and creative as to how we gather, create and store information and how we disseminate this to users – beAring in mind the technogogies now widely available and accessible.