12 Aug 2004 -- Two workshops on important information management issues for agriculture and rural development were sponsored by FAO at the AFITA/WCCA 2004 conference in Bangkok, Thailand.
The first workshop focused on "Bridging the rural digital divide". Speakers and participants recognized that the information revolution has bypassed nearly one billion people, the rural poor, who constitute 75 percent of the people in the world who live on less than one dollar a day. The growth of ICTs has widened the gap between the rural poor and others who do have access to such technologies. The rural digital divide is most evident when comparing the disparities between urban and rural communities, between men and women, and between successful farmers and their less successful neighbors. FAO and other organizations have recognized this challenge and are working on a complimentary set of activities to bridge the rural digital divide by strengthening human and institutional capacities to harness information and knowledge more effectively. This workshop presented a sampling of these efforts from around Asia, and promoted discussion on how to best succeed at bridging the rural digital divide, using ICTs to reduce poverty and food insecurity.
The second workshop on “Multilinguality in agricultural information access” was co-sponsored by FAO, NARO and Kasetsart University. The problem of multilingual access to information resources can be seen as an extension of the general information retrieval problem. English has remained uncontested in its dominance but attention must now be given to other languages and subsequently to development of tools and methodologies to enable this. This workshop provided a platform to share concrete examples and methodologies that can eventually be extended to the development of live applications used in and for agricultural information management.
A schedule of the workshops, along with abstracts, papers and presentations can be found on the AFITA/WCCA 2004 web site.
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