AGRIS Hubs - Georgia

In this short document, the work and experience of the AGRIS Hub in Georgia is described, along with an overview of food and agricultural science and the role of AGRIS in the country.

Food and agricultural science in Georgia

Agriculture has always played a key role in the development of Georgian social and economic sustainability, remaining the main pillar of the Georgian economy. A moderate continental climate with short and relatively warm winters and long hot summers permits early planting, giving producers a strong competitive advantage in addition to favorable soil resources and climate conditions for all types of agricultural production.

Digital and national libraries play a key role in raising awareness about food safety risks and agricultural technologies in general. Agricultural publications, open data and digital platforms provide the best methodological guidelines for the evaluation of national agricultural policy, food systems, agroecology and the food supply chain.

Civil society in Georgia, represented by organizations such as the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN), AGRIVI and SmartAgriHubs, have a crucial role in using science, technology and innovation to achieve the SDGs and a sustainable and resilient recovery from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak. The knowledge-driven programmes and e-learning platforms are crucial for national agriculture and for recognizing and engaging civil society organizations and communities as critical partners in handling such tasks. They need to create demand and accountability for sectoral research and knowledge generation, depository, dissemination, monitoring and evaluation. Libraries can facilitate networking and exchanges within scientific communities and foster a science-society dialogue by supporting the incentives for agricultural policies and necessary reforms).

The increasing use of digital technology in agriculture can initiate a major transformation: better services and products, innovations, enhanced decision making and increased profitability and productivity. Farmers can use innovative technologies to reduce waste and increase sustainability at the beginning of the food chain. When tracking the level of food insecurity at the national level, it is necessary to understand the scale of the problem, and trends across time. The data collection, data aggregation and data ownership at the local area level are essential to address food insecurity and its impacts.

In this context, there are various possibilities to perform agricultural research and increase the role of libraries in digital agriculture:

  • invest in information and training, particularly for family farming and agricultural cooperatives, to increase the uptake of new digital technologies;
  • ensure new environmentally friendly farming methods and support the adoption of climate-resilient crops;
  • increase research on how to help small-scale producers in water-scarce regions; and
  • target types of research on improvements in the quantity and quality of livestock feed to small and medium-sized commercial farm models.

The libraries and open data platforms will collect all necessary data in an automated way through the combination of sensors or advanced processing stations. The application of data processing techniques on external sources and the addition of data by farmers will reduce production costs, optimize farming methods (fertilizers, irrigation, pathogen control, harvest season and physiological adaptation of the crop to weather conditions) and certify the quality of food and the sustainability of agricultural production.

The digital and innovative transformation of the agrifood system in Georgia can demonstrate how digital technologies can accelerate the transformation of the agrifood system by increasing efficiency on the farm; improving farmers’ access to output, input and financial markets; strengthening quality control and traceability; and improving the design and delivery of agricultural policies. It can also identify the key role of the public sector in maximizing the benefits of this process, while minimizing its risks through an innovation ecosystem featuring open datasets, digital platforms, digital entrepreneurship, digital payment systems and digital skills – and by encouraging adoption of innovative technologies. This challenge can identify and promote new and innovative concepts, ideas and tools in agricultural advisory services that have the potential to spread agroecological approaches widely.

The Institute for Scientific and Technical Information - (TECHINFORMI)

In 1958, TECHINFORMI was founded under the decree of the Cabinet of Ministers of the former Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic as a research institute for scientific and technical information. Over the past 60 years, its official name and legal status has undergone several modifications. In 1992, it became the Georgian Research Institute for Scientific-Technical Information and Technical-Economic Studies (TECHINFORMI, 2021).

In 1993, under a resolution of the Georgian Prime Minister’s Office, TECHINFORMI was created to represent Georgia at meetings and in international organizations of scientific and technical information. In 2006, the government of Georgia decreed TECHINFORMI be founded as a legal entity of public law, and in 2010 incorporated it as an independent research institution at Georgian Technical University. Today, TECHINFORMI is one of the leading organizations in the fields of scientific and technical information in Georgia.

Its mission is sharing scientific and technical information and knowledge in the country. It is the largest provider of information services, and is a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research institute. It is also one of the main actors of the scientific and technical information system of Georgia, where information management in the agricultural sector is one of the main topics of interest.

TECHINFORMI and AGRIS

TECHINFORMI retrieves, processes and disseminates scientific and technological information both inside and outside the country. It creates open databases describing scientific products such as the results of research projects and publications. These databases are visible and accessible for all interested individuals on the TECHINFORMI webpage (TECHINFORMI, 2021).

In 2021, TECHINFORMI became an AGRIS Country Hub in Georgia. AGRIS is one of the most comprehensive search engines in food and agricultural scientific literature, providing free access to millions of bibliographic records in 90 different languages. TECHINFORMI is engaged in the regular provision of bibliographic references and annotations of agricultural research works, covering all FAO’s areas of interest in Georgia, and in adding the scientific works of Georgian scientists to the FAO AGRIS database (FAOc, 2021).

Relevance of AGRIS in Georgia

Computing and communications technologies have improved significantly during the last decades, and the development of digital networks have revolutionized the way data are stored and disseminated. Science and research results have always played a significant role in the development of modern society, and agriculture is not an exception. Access to scientific data and research materials related to agriculture and food has become even more crucial due to the recent outbreak of COVID-19, which heavily disrupted agricultural and food supply chain systems around the world. Developing the systems that support the visibility and accessibility of scientific information and data can be considered one of the key indicators of the world’s social development, which also directly contributes to the wellbeing and wealth of the population worldwide.

Agriculture has always played an important role in the formation of Georgian social and economic sustainability, and has contributed to its economic and social development. Georgia, and particularly TECHINFORMI, has accumulated significant experience in the dissemination of scientific resources in the agricultural domain.

FAO offers many tools and platforms for fostering scientific information and digital data on food and agriculture, and AGRIS is one of them. Since 2000, TECHINFORMI has been functioning as a data provider centre and in 2021 it was nominated as the AGRIS Hub in Georgia. Since then it has contributed over 1 000 bibliographic records to AGRIS and 499 documents just in the last six years (see Figure 1).

Documents provided by TECHINFORMI to AGRIS

Figure 1. Documents provided by TECHINFORMI to AGRIS. Source: TECHINFORMI, 2021 

AGRIS also serves as a platform for sharing national scientific and technical information from Georgian academic and research institutions with the world. It has an important impact in increasing the level of knowledge directly in the key domains of the agricultural sector that are considered most relevant in today’s world environment.

For Georgian scientists, AGRIS serves as a great platform for sharing national scientific information from local research institutions, academia and individual researchers, to make it globally visible and available among high-quality structured bibliographic records indexed from international providers. From the data content perspective, it is important to highlight that through AGRIS it is possible to have access to grey literature – academic papers, conference proceedings, technical specifications and standards, non-commercial translations, bibliographies, technical and commercial documentation – and official documents that are not indexed by major databases. AGRIS prioritizes the collection and the harvesting of peer-reviewed and grey literature in equal measure, opening the door to valuable information about emerging or less-popular research areas.

Having access to the world's grey literature in food and agriculture allows Georgian scientists and researchers to analyse alternative sources, and also provides a good platform to share national grey literature.

AGRIS – Diversity in accessing multilingual scientific literature in food and agriculture

Due to the diversity of languages being used in food and agriculture, AGRIS is multilingual. Embracing multilingualism is an important factor in increasing accessibility to scientific literature. It is an exceptional opportunity for Georgian scientists and researchers. AGRIS provides accessibility and visibility to enormous quantities of information and knowledge in different languages through the use of FAO’s multilingual thesaurus AGROVOC (FAOf, 2021), which is available in more than 40 languages, including Georgian. At the same time, interaction with AGRIS and AGROVOC keywords helps Georgian scientists as well as master’s and PhD students to use the most relevant, updated and correct terminology for future scientific papers.

AGRIS – An international network of data providers and a knowledge exchange platform

Being part of a group of data providers from 150 countries (FAOd, 2021) is a considerable benefit for Georgia, which officially participates in the global events and sessions organized by FAO. This facilitates sharing of multiple views and approaches, and provides new opportunities for developing intercultural and international collaboration and partnerships.

Sharing knowledge among different data providers from a huge number of developing and developed countries will support the integration of Georgia into the world’s global research collaboration.

AGRIS – A tool to visualize activity of data providers on the global map

AGRIS offers a very useful tool integrated into the AGRIS interface (institutional dashboard), which provides access to statistics including page views, country visits by week/month/year (see Figure 2), browsing and searching institutional collections, and filtering content by data providers. The ability to monitor data discoverability and usability internally and externally is important for identifying gaps and prioritizing new development areas to contribute to achieving the SDGs in the country and on a global level.

Techinformi page views

Figure 2. Page views per month - June 2020 - June 2021. Source: FAOe, 2021

 

Next steps

TECHINFORMI, as an official representative in AGROVOC and an AGRIS country hub, will continue supporting local educational organizations, publishers, editors and non-governmental organizations to increase awareness on the benefits of sharing metadata. It will also focus on the requirements of metadata production of relevant scientific materials for AGRIS and other international scientific information databases. TECHINFORMI continuously seeks opportunities to enhance and deepen its ability to develop and advocate visibility, accessibility and usability of agricultural data and science in Georgia.

In 2021, TECHINFORMI planned several activities to further increase the information, visibility, accessibility and usability of AGRIS by frontlines in the Georgian agriculture domain. Their goal was to:

  • promote AGRIS through TECHINFORMI as a national hub, to enhance the number of existing AGRIS data providers in Georgia;
  • increase AGRIS documentation and promote it through AGRIS campaigns to help local food and agriculture institutions to meet and satisfy quality requirements to become AGRIS data providers in Georgia;
  • enrich contribution from Georgia to AGRIS with materials like unique grey literature;
  • organize online discussion with the TECHINFORMI network and engage with local organizations willing to become AGRIS data providers, and conduct training on content preparation and quality verification;
  • organize more online sessions (separate sessions with different targeted groups) about AGRIS and its benefits in Georgia;
  • give guidance to eligible partners to join the AGRIS network;
  • offer advice to existing and potential organizations on submitting resource (metadata) information; and
  • disseminate and promote information about AGRIS publications and social events organized by FAO.

References

FAO. 2021a.Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations [online]. Rome. [Cited 16 July 2021]. www.fao.org/ home/en/

FAO. 2021b. Sustainable Development Goals. In: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations [online]. Rome. [Cited 16 July 2021]. http://www.fao.org/sustainable-development-goals/en/

FAO. 2021c. AGRIS. In: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations [online]. Rome. [Cited 16 July 2021]. http://www.fao.org/agris/

FAO. 2021d. AGRIS data providers. In: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations [online]. Rome. [Cited 16 July 2021]. http://www.fao.org/agris/data-providers

FAO. 2021e. AGRIS data providers. In: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations [online]. Rome. [Cited 16 July 2021]. https://agris.fao.org/agris-search/provider_stats.dotspan=?1y

FAO. 2021f. AGROVOC. In: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations [online]. Rome. [Cited 16 July 2021]. http://www.fao.org/agrovoc/

TECHINFORMI. 2021. The Institute for Scientific and Technical Information [online]. Tbilisi. [Cited 16 July 202] https://techinformi.ge/en/