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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.

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an overview of agricultural information services in the caribbean
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
The Caribbean Region

Antigua & Barbuda

The Bahamas



The Dominican Republic



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 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
Regional studies on agricultural information needs

Needs assessment of agricultural information needs in the Caribbean. CTA/CARDI. 2005.

Available on

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
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
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 statement1
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 sector 1
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
The Users

Policy makers


Extension personnel

Information professionals



The Media

the providers
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
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 agriculture1
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
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
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
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 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
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…



Generally very good access in MoAs, most institutions, homes and Internet cafes. Some countries still have problems of access – e.g. in rural areas.


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
SIDALC in the Caribbean?

10 years behind?

Need to fit the pieces of the puzzle together!

sidalc in the caribbean1
SIDALC in the Caribbean?

Dominican Republic

Red de Documentación e Información Agropecuaria y Forestal-REDIAF 2000


Agricultural Documentation and Information Network (JADIN) - 1999

Trinidad & Tobago

Agricultural Library and Information Network of Trinidad and Tobago (ALINTT) – 2009 revitalisation

sidalc in the caribbean2
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.