21) ICRISAT and partners launch initiative on open access information on agricultural research

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), in collaboration with the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, has launched an initiative to promote open access information sources in agricultural sciences and technology in India.

The initiative was launched at the First AGRIS workshop on open access in agricultural sciences and technology: Indian initiatives organized at ICRISAT headquarters at Patancheru on 6 and 7 November.

The workshop brought together library and documentation specialists from the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) institutes, state agricultural research universities. There were also representatives from specialized institutions such as the National Institute of Agricultural Extension Management (MANAGE), the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF), the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) at Bangalore, and the National Informatics Center (NIC).

Launching the first phase, the participants of the workshop decided to suggest the establishment of the two pilot open access information repositories in the agricultural domain within the first year. One would be in Delhi with support from ICAR, and the other in Hyderabad with support from ICRISAT and MANAGE.

According to Dr Dyno Keatinge, Deputy Director General of ICRISAT, speaking on behalf of Director General William Dar, the new initiative will create a new platform for information sharing on agricultural research in India.

Dr P M Bhargava, Vice Chair of Indian National Knowledge Commission, participated in the workshop, and said that the technology and application can take agricultural information sharing into a new paradigm.

Though open access documentation systems have been popular in many other areas of science communication in India, it is not being used in agricultural research documentation. The initiative has been launched to bridge this gap. It will also implement lessons learnt from existing global open access systems such as AGRIS, the international information system for the agricultural sciences and technology, initiated by FAO.

The AGRIS Secretariat in Rome has taken up several new initiatives in the last few years in face of the exponential growth in available information on agricultural research. Development of new metadata (information that describes how, when and by whom data has been collected and formatted) standards to share information coupled with open source software now in use can ensure open access for users worldwide.

The new open access agriculture information will enable agricultural scientists to obtain information through the Internet that are more searchable, more value added information such as who is the writer, citation and source credibility.

For further information, contact Mr S Srinivas at s(dot)srinivas(at)cgiar(dot)org.

by ICRISAT. All rights reserved.