Is information part of on-farm equipment?
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CTA. 1992. Is information part of on-farm equipment?. Spore 37. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
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workshop on agricultural information in Central Africa. The meeting was organized by CTA in Libreville, Gabon (October 7-11, 1991)
Can information be classified under the same heading as farm equipment or chemicals, in the same way as machinery which does the work of human hands, or fertilizer which enriches the soil? According to the participants at a workshop on agricultural information in Central Africa, it can indeed. The meeting was organized by CTA in Libreville, Gabon (October 7-11, 1991) together with the Institut de Recherche Agronomique et Zootechnique (IRAZ) and supported by the Economic Community of Central African States (CEEAC). This was the first of a series of gatherings of this kind that CTA intends to organize for the coming few years. The objective of these meetings is to bring together the Centre's various target groups in order to analyze their different information needs so that a cooperative strategy can be evolved. This first meeting was meant particularly to determine the most urgent requirements in the region, as a basis for the development of remedial programmes. This procedure will be followed for all the other regions of the ACP. The primary task of agricultural information is to oil the wheels of agricultural production, and it does this by informing decision makers, promoting innovation, raising awareness and by making a link between the farm and the outside world. This last is all the more important nowadays because many of the extension and training systems set up during the last 20 years are under threat, and it is vital to keep open the channel between the scientist and the peasant farmer. For this reason the current Lomé Convention, more than any of its predecessors, puts great emphasis on the necessity to develop the ACP countries' own potential for generating and disseminating STI (scientific and technical information) in the field of agriculture and rural development. Awareness of existing STI resources is a prerequisite for development, and so the participants in the workshop underlined the necessity of making a working inventory of operational centres: research programmes should be listed, possibilities of training for scientists and documentalists in publication and dissemination of the results of their work should be identified, and existing publications in the region should be documented. From this inventory of existing resources it will be possible to link complementary activities in the different countries but an effort should be made to make them truly synergetic. Information exchange is the key to this process. Participants at the workshop recommended the creation of a climate conducive for this; this would involve workshop meetings, exchange of publications, free inter-state movement of scientists, creation of a regional scientific journal, streamlining the profession of extension officers and increased publication in international media by scientists from ACP countries. The Libreville meeting was a fruitful learning experience which, it is hoped, will have laid the foundations of a regional organization bringing together the various professions involved in agricultural and rural development.
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