Knowledge sharing

As the world’s population grows, the climate changes and people increasingly migrate from rural areas to cities, global food and agriculture systems will need to transform in order to be able to provide everyone with enough safe and nutritious food. Access to scientific knowledge, research and information for food and agriculture is crucial for this transformation to happen sustainably, in a way that safeguards both livelihoods and the environment.

FAO’s role

FAO promotes the exchange of scientific research and technical knowledge related to all aspects of food and agriculture. Through a series of knowledge programmes, FAO helps to increase the accessibility and visibility of research products in its Member Countries, and to make this information available, accessible and usable worldwide. These programmes help to:

  • Promote accessibility of scientific information and digital data in food & agriculture.
  • Strengthen engagement of international, regional and national organizations in scaling up access to and dissemination of agricultural data.
  • Improve the quality and effectiveness of agricultural research and education.

This exchange of knowledge, information and data not only supports FAO’s work for a world free of hunger, malnutrition and poverty, but also contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 


FAO makes scientific information and digital data on food and agriculture available and accessible worldwide through the following platforms:

  • AGRIS: the International System for Agricultural Science and Technology

    A compelling, living example of North-North, North-South and South-South cooperation, AGRIS is a global information service that promotes free access to the knowledge that is vital to defeat hunger. Coordinated by FAO since 1974, AGRIS is comprised of two main elements: an international network of organizations, known as data providers, spanning 150 countries and a multilingual database. The data providers, including governments, academic institutions, publishers, non-governmental and intergovernmental organizations, among others, contribute the information that is stored in the free-to-use database. This periodically updated database is searchable via a user-friendly interface and contains more than 14 million structured bibliographic records on food and agricultural literature in over 90 languages (as of August 2022). These records facilitate access to reference books, journal articles, monographs, book chapters, datasets and grey literature – including unpublished scientific and technical reports, theses, dissertations and conference papers – and help increase the flow of information in the domain of food and agriculture. 
  • AGORA: Access to Global Online Research in Agriculture

    Subscription-based journals remain an important source of high-quality scientific information to advance higher education, improve the work of development practitioners and inform public policy decisions. Since 2003, FAO has led AGORA, a knowledge platform that provides free or low cost access to major scientific journals and books in food and agriculture to public institutions in low-income countries. Staff and students from eligible institutions, including universities and colleges, research institutes, agricultural extension centers, government offices and libraries, receive access to the journals for free or at greatly reduced rates.
    Most of the world’s leading scientific journal publishers participate in the programme, and partners include more than 150 world’s leading scientific publishers, WHO, FAO, UNEP, WIPO, ILO, Cornell and Yale University Libraries, STM and other technical partners.

  • AGROVOC: a multi-lingual, collaborative thesaurus for agricultural concepts

    AGROVOC is a free multilingual thesaurus available online in more than 41 languages created and coordinated by FAO since 1981.  AGROVOC promotes the visibility of research produced in FAO’s members: each term and concept collected and added to the vocabulary is the result of agreements among experts that contributes to the creation of a common, standardized terminology in the food and agriculture domain. Standardization matters: using AGROVOC concepts to tag scientific publications (journal articles, conference proceedings, dissertations, etc.) can help researchers around the world to find and discover scientific literature easily. An important part of the food and agricultural research production is not published in English, and thus may not be easily discoverable. Using AGROVOC to tag resources can facilitate the search of topics, allowing searches in a specific language and providing results in many others, strengthening visibility worldwide. Nowadays, many national and international organizations contribute regularly to AGROVOC as editors, by adding new definitions in their own language, expanding its multilingual coverage, and making data more accessible.

  • FAO KnowledgeLab: Innovative learning environment to foster knowledge sharing

    KnowledgeLab offers an environment to support the knowledge platforms which currently includes AGRIS, AGROVOC and AGORA programmes. Through these knowledge programmes, FAO helps to increase the accessibility and visibility of research products related to food and agriculture, and to make this information available, accessible and usable worldwide. Additionally, KnowledgeLab facilitates capacity development activities to communities of practice like the Agricultural Information Management Standards Portal (AIMS). KnowledgeLab targets existing stakeholders that use and contribute to the knowledge platforms by providing tailored online training activities. These courses are designed and announced in the communication channels of the relevant programmes, and participation is upon registration based on the defined criteria.

  • AIMS: the Agricultural Information Management Standards Portal

    AIMS is a worldwide community of experts in food and agricultural information and data management facilitated by FAO. The knowledge sharing platform provides a space for members to reach out and share projects, best practices, learning opportunities, events and new ideas. It also keeps community members up to date on relevant news, events and stakeholder updates through monthly newsletters, interviews with AIMS community members, publications and free webinars. The AIMS community encompasses different types of professionals related to food and agricultural information and data management such as technicians, librarians, data managers, information management specialists, policy makers and semantic experts. Anyone interested in being involved in the community can register at  

In numbers:

  • AGORA provides access to up to 74,000 leading journals and books in the fields of health, agriculture, environment, and applied sciences.
  • More than 9,000 institutions in more than 120 low- and middle-income countries benefit from free or low-cost online access through AGORA.
  • AGRIS provides free access to more than 14 million records about publications in over 90 different languages
  • More than 500 institutions including research centers, academic institutions, publishers, governmental bodies, development programmes, international and national organizations from 150 countries currently contribute to AGRIS.
  • AGROVOC consists of more than 40,600 concepts and more than 960,000 terms in up to 41 languages.

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