Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Interview about GAINS

We did an interview with Clement Entsua-Mensah, Director of CSIR-NSTI about the experiences of the Ghana Agriculture Information Network Systems. The video is about 7 minutes long. Here's a summary of the interview:

Question: What is the objective of GAINS?

To provide information support to the agricultural sector, the research and academic community.

Question: How many institutes do you work with?

13 research institutes, 5 faculties of agriculture and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture.

Question: In how far have you achieved your objective?

GAINS has been able to provide for the information needs of the research and academic community with the help of CTA, IICD and KIT the Netherlands. We provide databases for researchers, and other stakeholders including farmers and extension workers. One problem we had is that we can not provide information to the farmers, but have relied on intermediaries like FM community radio stations and agricultural information centers.

Question: How have the databases helped the researchers and extension workers to do their work?

The Ghana Agricultural Information Research Database is a historical database with regards to journals and articles. Most of the times we only have the abstracts. Often researchers want the full text then we order it for them. We use the TILL database, if the article is not there we search in the other databases, otherwise we go to KIT in the Netherlands.

Question: What would you advise a similar project in another country?

GAINS' experience shows that building a network should start from the building blocks, the partner institutions. Once the partners buy into the idea, they become more committed and feel part of it. We had a situation where the coordinating centre had to go out and encourage the partner organisations. Some institutes were more endowed than others. We had to advocate for resource for them to participate more effectively. As far as other organisations are concerned: building a network requires commitment of the partner institutions.

Question: What would you do differently next time?

Next time we'd have to sign contracts and get stakeholders and partner institutions to be seen as shareholders. Have to give some input and then you can reap some benefit. As partners there must be an input and output.

2 comments:

thinfox said...

You stated that: One problem we had is that we can not provide information to the farmers, but have relied on intermediaries like FM community radio stations and agricultural information centers.

I'm just wondering what are the steps being take to address this problem? I believe an environment where the people who are actually doing the work(farmers) can get a face-to-face interaction with knowledgeable experts to get information and to address any concerns or questions would be much more effective than just broadcasting the information through FM stations.
I understand one of challenges is the issue of language barrier. what are the steps being taken to ensure people who do not speak english (farmers especially) get access to the services, and not just limited to english speakers only?

Peter said...

FM and AM stations are communication instruments that can reach farmers in their own language. It even reaches those farmers who can't read or write.
It al depends on the willingness of the radiostation to broadcast in languages other than english.