Collaboration between FAO and Makerere University on AGROVOC in Swahili language

FAO/Rebecca Pietrelli

From November 2021 to November 2022, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) collaborated with Makerere University to consolidate an institutional focal point for Swahili and AGROVOC, and to promote the use of AGROVOC in regional and national Least Developed Country (LDCs) languages. 

The FAO AGROVOC brochures 2022 in Swahili language

Makerere University is one of the oldest universities in Africa, based in Uganda, and for many years it has actively promoted programmes such as AGORA and AGRIS, in Uganda and in the region.

The collaboration with FAO on AGROVOC achieved several goals, including building of over 6 500 Swahili translated concepts, and capacity development  of over 230 staff members, students, librarians and researchers at Makerere University. 

Additionally, a virtual webinar was delivered in May 2022, attended by over 60 participants from different countries across the globe. The theme of the Webinar was “Changing data landscape: AGROVOC and the value of the Swahili content”.

This theme caught the attention of prospective users from both the Swahili and Non-Swahili-speaking countries. Accordingly, the statistics for the Swahili content requests in AGROVOC rose exponentially to values, several times higher than the previous years.

Mr Onan Mulumba during the 100th anniversary celebrations of Makerere University, October 2022

Mr. Onan Mulumba, who coordinated this collaboration at Makerere University, says that:

The collaboration has helped to boost the awareness and usage of AGROVOC to improve the quality of research at Makerere and other institutions where Swahili language is used in pursuing scientific research agenda.

Multilinguality is still a significant barrier to the global transfer of scientific knowledge in food and agriculture, and tools like AGROVOC and other terminologies across languages are  valuable instruments for data to be classified homogeneously, facilitating interoperability and reuse in information systems. 

FAO encourages collaboration proposals from other institutions based in LDCs interested in participating in the AGROVOC Editorial Community.