The Sixth Annual AGROVOC Editorial Community Meeting 2023


The sixth Annual AGROVOC Editorial Community Meeting took place on July 13-14, 2023, in Freising, Germany. The main goal of the meeting was to enhance interaction with the editorial communities and establish priorities for the upcoming year.

The two-day agenda encompassed crucial discussions on 2023/2024 priorities, usage statistics services for editors, outreach activities and online courses, and addressing content gaps. Additionally, the meeting placed considerable emphasis on reviewing AGROVOC services and exploring areas for platform improvement.

Imma Subirats, team leader of the Agricultural Information Management and Knowledge Sharing Team (FAO). ©FAO

During Session 1, the AGROVOC team presented the activity report for 2022/2023, highlighting the expansion of AGROVOC's coverage.

Imma Subirats, team leader of the Agricultural Information Management and Knowledge Sharing Team at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), shared insights on content and definition development since 2017, usage statistics, enhancements in editor monitoring, and the outcomes of AGROVOC's Statistic Task Force. Noteworthy features included daily and monthly request statistics, requests by country, and access to SKOSMOS.

Andrea Turbati (FAO) at the pre-meeting event in Freising. ©FAO




Subirats and Andrea Turbati from FAO, underscored the importance of increasing SPARQL utilization and gathering feedback from editors to provide more customized services and insights.

The meeting emphasized the significance of outreach activities and collaborations with user communities, particularly in Latin America. Effective communication methods such as webinars, workshops, social media engagement, and collaboration with FAO country offices were highlighted. Notable initiatives, such as the AGROVOC concept of the month and the publication "The role of metadata in the innovation cycle of land administration," were also given prominence.

During the second part of Session 1, members of the editorial community shared how their institutions utilize AGROVOC and identified areas for improvement. Alan Orth, from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), showcased CGSpace's utilization of AGROVOC, demonstrating the use of Python coding for batch validation, resulting in a significant 47% exact match between CGSpace and AGROVOC terms.

Alan Orth (ILRI) showcased CGSpace's utilization of AGROVOC. ©FAO

Carsten Hoffman from the Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF) discussed the role of semantic resources in data management infrastructure for agrosystems and landscape research. He emphasized the importance of the Research Data Strategy (NFDI) as a German platform and highlighted FairAGRO as a data infrastructure for agrosystems.

Clement Jonquet, from the Institut national de la recherche agronomique (INRAE), emphasized the significance of Agroportal and the FAIR (findable, accessible, interoperable, reusable) data. Jonquet highlighted AGROVOC's essential role within Agroportal, providing ontology descriptions along with metadata. However, opportunities for improvement were identified, particularly in the organization of metadata from AGROVOC.

Tamsin Vicary, FAO Fishery Officer, highlighted AGROVOC's role in their partnership with the ASFA Network. She discussed the process of cleaning up over 5,000 concepts and maintaining the ASFA thesaurus, concepts, and definitions in different languages.

Tamsin Vicary, FAO Fishery Officer (ASFA). ©FAO

Imma Subirats concluded the meeting with a presentation on the challenges and opportunities AGROVOC faces in Central America and the Caribbean. Efforts have been made to strengthen collaboration, reduce language barriers, and enhance Spanish coverage through seminars, workshops, and partnerships with organizations in the region.

Session 2, held on July 14, 2023, delved into discussions on new services, the AGROVOC Online Course, and addressing content gaps.

Turbati provided a comprehensive explanation of data analysis and visualization using Power BI for AGROVOC services. This empowers the creation of graphs based on log information from different servers, capturing monthly requests, number of institutions, and enabling filtering by country or region.

Collaboration between editors was emphasized as vital for service improvement, with their feedback playing a crucial role in understanding specific needs and enhancing data availability.

The AGROVOC Online Course, introduced by Imma Subirats, targets individuals and institutions interested in exploring controlled vocabularies. Its primary aim is to raise awareness about the importance of data sharing and interoperability, while highlighting AGROVOC's significant role in facilitating reliable, accessible, and transparent data. The course includes six comprehensive PDFs and self-paced, online mini-courses on Moodle, providing an interactive learning experience.

The members of the AGROVOC editorial community in Freising. ©FAO

The meeting also focused on addressing content gaps, with Kristin Kolshus (FAO) and Esther Mietzsch from Kuratorium für Technik und Bauwesen in der Landwirtschaft e.V. (KTBL) examining the importance of ensuring quality assurance within AGROVOC. They emphasized the significance of a systematic analysis approach and offered practical suggestions for improvements, such as introducing new concepts, repositioning existing ones, updating labels, and improving definitions. The involvement of interested volunteers for content analysis and the need for research and collaboration were encouraged.

During the interactive session, Imma Subirats addressed questions from the audience and explored avenues for prioritizing definitions over alignments. Collaboration among institutions with shared interests was emphasized.

The importance of maintaining up-to-date vocabularies within each institution was also highlighted.

The editors and Subirats engaged in a discussion about handling homonyms, considering the possibility of managing them through independent schemas within the overarching system. The conversation will continue in subsequent discussions to further explore the topic.

Turbati raised a critical question regarding the sufficiency of the current e-infrastructure in meeting the evolving needs of users. He highlighted ongoing analyses being conducted to ensure that the e-infrastructure aligns with the changing requirements of the user community.

Veranika Barbaryka-Amelchanka, from the I.S. Lupinovich Belarus Agricultural Library of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus, delivered the final presentation, focusing on the development of the Belarusian version of AGROVOC. The presentation outlined Belarus's usage of AGROVOC and the motivations behind creating a localized version. Prospects for 2023-2025 were discussed, with a projected increase in the number of terms to over 30,000.

All the members of the AGROVOC editorial community who participated in the event. ©FAO

Overall, the second day of the Annual AGROVOC Editorial Community Meeting, along with the entire event, successfully fostered collaboration and facilitated fruitful exchanges and feedback, ensuring the continued growth and development of AGROVOC in fulfilling its mission.

By addressing user needs and striving to ensure the quality and accessibility of agricultural knowledge, AGROVOC reaffirmed its commitment to supporting data sharing and interoperability in the agricultural domain.