CSIR sensitises stakeholders on Regional Agriculture Information and Learning Systems

Stakeholders in the agricultural and related sectors are attending a sensitisation workshop on the Regional Agricultural Information and Learning Systems (RAILS), to strengthen the management capacity of the National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS) in Africa.

This would facilitate the dissemination of improved technologies and good agricultural practices throughout the continent.

The workshop which is being organised by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research’s (CSIR), Institute for Scientific and Technology Information (INSTI), would build synergy among stakeholders in Agriculture for Development.

It would further introduce participants to issues such as RAILS activities, the Dissemination of New Agricultural Technologies in Africa, as well as the eRAILS platform, an African internet portal on agriculture innovations and Learning Team concept and discuss ways of strengthening and institutionalising RAILS in existing NARS.

Dr Joel Sam, Director, CSIR-INSTI, told the opening session in Accra on Friday that although the eRAILS which was an internet-based platform, had been in operation since its launch in 2009, it had not been properly used to ensure that the platform functions at its optimum in dissemination of agricultural information to national partners.

He stated that the ability of African stakeholders to contribute to global agricultural knowledge was critical to facilitate synergies by linking African information conduits to global providers.

“Therefore, it is important that such platforms are harnessed to maximise the mobilisation of relevant local contents and particularly research outputs, local knowledge and experiences from African stakeholders for knowledge and sharing,” he said.

Dr Sam explained that RAILS, which was a component of the Promotion of Science and Technology for Agricultural Development in Africa was funded by the African Development Bank to fill current gaps in the rural community NARS regional, continental and global information chain.

He indicated that the project also strives to improve the Information and Communication Technologies advocated by the African Union, the regional economic communities and national governments to improve the utilisation of web-based information and use of traditional communication tools.

Mr Jeffrey Yeboah, Information Officer, CSIR-INSTI, said the RAILS project was tackling effective communication through two major platforms, which included the designing of a system known as the “eRAILS”, which is an African internet portal on agriculture innovations.

“This would provide a platform for… stakeholders in the agro-business to share useful information and knowledge on agriculture and other related issues including research outputs and allows users to create their own websites free of charge to post agricultural-related information,” he said.

He said RAILS learning teams had been built to facilitate the use of relevant ICT tools to gather manage and exchange information to make agriculture research, training and advisory services provisions more responsive to the needs of users.

Mr Yeboah said the national learning team members represent various backgrounds and disciplines and the members work together as information intermediaries.

He said anyone or organisation that belonged to NARS with written approval from their institution could apply to become a member.

Source: GNA

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