Thank you for making the 2022 AGRIS Virtual Annual Conference a success!
We would like to thank all participants for making the 2022 AGRIS Virtual Annual Conference, which was held online on Thursday 7 July, a very successful event.
The informative presentations, the interactions in the skillfully moderated breakout sessions in the six official FAO languages, as well as the knowledgeable and engaging contributions of the two invited panelists from the AGRIS Country Hubs in Georgia and the Republic of Moldova, respectively, were instrumental in making the conference a memorable and enlightening one.
Structured around the theme of partnership and titled "Partnerships: focus on the AGRIS Network and Country Hubs", the conference was conducted in English, with breakout sessions in all six official FAO languages enabling participants to engage, interact with one another and ask questions in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. (The conversations in each breakout room were "consolidated" by moderators and reported back to a main breakout room to be discussed and addressed.)
Opened with a short speech by Enrico Bonaiuti of the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) -- with whose organization FAO has commenced a collaboration earlier this year -- the conference was divided into three main sessions:
- What is new in AGRIS (Imma Subirats, AGRIS Programme Manager, FAO)
- How to join the Network and the benefits of doing so (Valentina De Col, Agricultural Information System Officer, ICARDA, and Hrijoy Bhattacharjee, Communications Specialist, FAO)
- AGRIS Country Hubs: what they are, their roles and responsibilities, and how to become one (Imma Subirats, AGRIS Programme Manager, FAO)
Session 1: What is new in AGRIS
Imma Subirats introduced AGRIS and its composition, outlined the evolution of its content and its usage statistics before focusing on the latest developments, including the partnership with ICARDA, findings from the AGRIS data provider survey, new and upcoming publications and capacity development activities, both completed and planned.
Imma outlined ongoing and planned trainings and capacity development activities before proceeding to describe the collaboration with ICARDA.
Imma also highlighted some of the main findings from the AGRIS data provider survey that collected feedback on different aspects of AGRIS, ranging from contributing data to useful training activities, which gathered responses from 117 data providers earlier in the year.
Session 2: How to join the AGRIS Network and its benefits
Valentina De Col and Hrijoy Bhattacharjee delved into the details of the AGRIS Network, including its evolution over the decades since the 1970s, its current composition in terms of the kinds of organizations comprising it, before moving on to describe the benefits of being part of the network and the process of joining it.
Valentina and Hrijoy then proceeded to explain the AGRIS Data Provider Registry, in which all details of data providers are managed, as well as improvements to it that provide greater visibility to data providers' profiles and activity status.
The session concluded with an explanation of a special service -- the institutional dashboard -- that enables data providers to:
- monitor the usage statistics of their data in AGRIS (through a dashboard feature) - how many people are viewing their data; from where; which are the most frequently viewed records; how does this change over time?
- easily access their collections and embed them on their organizational websites; and
- filter the collections of other data providers.
Session 3: AGRIS Country Hubs: what they are, their roles and responsibilities, and how to become one
Presented by Imma Subirats, the third session focused on a special category of data providers -- AGRIS Country Hubs. Formerly known as AGRIS National Centres, AGRIS Country hubs are data providers of long standing that act as national or regional focal points for AGRIS and are responsible for:
- promoting AGRIS;
- guiding eligible partners on joining the AGRIS Network;
- advising existing and potential organizations on submitting information to AGRIS;
- assisting in selecting appropriate encoding strategies, such as the use of AGROVOC, for producing bibliographic metadata; and
- coordinating capacity development activities.
Imma described how AGRIS Country Hubs promote AGRIS before outlining the different ways they could support potential and existing data providers as well as engage in capacity development activities within the AGRIS Network.
Imma listed the existing AGRIS Country Hubs and then left the floor to two representatives from the AGRIS Country Hubs in Georgia and the Republic of Moldova for an interesting panel discussion. Marina Razmadze from the country hub in Georgia and Viorica Lupu from the hub in the Republic of Moldova discussed their organizations' experiences as country hubs, in particular the benefits and challenges of becoming and remaining one.
Marina, the Deputy Director of Institute Techinformi of the Georgian Technical Institute, highlighted an important benefit of her organization becoming an AGRIS Country Hub
"...after receiving the status of Country Hub unexpected opportunities and new initiatives became available at the National Level for Georgia as well.
For example, now as a Country Hub in Georgia our institution is able to strengthen and enforce our collaboration with different NGO's and governmental organization and applied for the joint development programs and funds at the National level. Of course, it was possible before as well but with the new status we rise the chances to be more visible and prioritizable among other targeted organizations and institutions in the field of Agriculture. Moreover, as a Country Hub, our organization and the AGRIS team play kind of consultant role for other universities, libraries, researchers and other targeted organizations in the field of agriculture. We assist them in all matters related to agricultural information management. We offer them a wide range of workshops, training, teaching sessions and round tables."
Viorica, the Deputy Director at the Republican Scientific Agricultural Library of the State Agrarian University of Moldova, explained that country hub status had
"significantly strengthened our role and helped us to become a focal point at the national level in the context of agricultural data management and capacity building activities. AGRIS offers agricultural institutions from the Republic of Moldova the opportunity to be part of an advantageous international network and to contribute to the promotion of Moldovan scientific research globally. Being part of AGRIS we have access to a dynamic global community of practice working on modern infrastructures and have the opportunity to strengthen our own national network."
"...I would like to mention one important news for us as a Country Hubs. Gaining experience in capacity building AGRIS Country Hubs, our institutions from Georgia and Moldova applied for and won EOSC (The European Open Science Cloud) grant in 2022, which will strengthen awareness about open data in food and agriculture in the Republic of Moldova and in Georgia. In fact, the experience of our institutions as AGRIS Hubs had a positive and clear effect serving as a bridge to EOSC."
The recording of the conference, including the panel discussion and the "consolidated" breakout sessions, will be available in the coming weeks.
The presentation used in the conference can be downloaded HERE.