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Enhanced HarvestChoice Website Aims to Help Better Target Agricultural Investments

The HarvestChoice initiative has launched a comprehensive collection of data products designed to better inform strategic policy and investment decisions aimed at improving farm productivity and profitability, and market development. The website is intended to be the “go-to” resource for analysts and decision makers seeking integrated, consistent, and spatially-referenced information, provided in an interactive portal. The data collection focuses on factors relevant to crop production and marketing in Sub-Saharan African (SSA) agriculture, such as climate, soil and pest conditions and constraints, current and future cropping systems geography and performance, and access to markets. Recognizing the site-specific nature of many interventions designed to boost productivity, especially in the rainfed systems common throughout SSA, HarvestChoice takes a spatial approach, using interfaces built around open-source platforms such as Google Maps. By providing both public and private investors with an increasingly broad and in-depth understanding of major production and marketing challenges and opportunities, HarvestChoice hopes to shed light on the potential payoffs to productivity-enhancing innovations for smallholder farmers, as well as how to promote the commercialization of smallholder agriculture. The HarvestChoice website will continuously be updated and improved over time. View the website and download these early data offerings here.

HarvestChoice was launched in October 2006 and is jointly led by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and the University of Minnesota’s International Science and Technology Practice and Policy (INSTePP) program.

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(by Mila Ramos)

In response to the demands of scholars in this digital age, a new service is now being offered by the Consultative Group on International Research (CGIAR) Virtual Library. Researchers seeking to avail of instant agricultural information, specially those pertaining to CGIAR research outputs, may now use the services of the CGIAR Virtual Library (GGVL) via a social networking tool: Skype. This is envisioned to provide services required for the 21st century and to realize better awareness and usability of the CGVL as a primary information resource for agricultural scientists the world over.

With the Skype name CGVLibrary, users, on demand, will receive instant assistance from libraries of the various agricultural centers. Currently information providers from the Bioversity (Rome), International Potato Center (CIP, Lima, Peru), International Rice Research Institute (IRRI, Los Banos, Philippines), International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT, Hyderabad, India), International Water Management Institute (IWMI, Sri Lanka), International Center for Research on Agroforestry (ICRAF, Nairobi, Kenya), Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR, Indonesia), International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA, Aleppo Syria), and International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI , Washington, D. C.) are testing and taking turns in looking after site. Live service through Skype is available 16 hours a day (2:00 AM – 6:00 PM GMT) with the collaboration of 9 centers mentioned above.

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Not only does the library of congress have a blog they also started a flickr partnerships to share “more than 3,000 photos from two of our most popular collections […] on our new Flickr page, to include only images for which no copyright restrictions are known to exist.”

If you want to read more about this you can read a blog post by David Weinberger or go directly to the original post.

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Ron Davies an expert in information systems wrote a review of the CGIAR Virtual Library, which was published in The Electronic Library.

His main Conclusion is that the project was overall a success, and that there are good reasons for creating specialized library portals that pool different resources on specific subjects together in one place alongside institutional portals, which focus more all information concerning one organization or institution. These reasons include reduced risk, faster implementation and reduced maintenance costs. The main challenge, however, remains to find the right degree of integration between the institutional portals of the CGIAR centers and the library portal (the Virtual Library) to increase accessibility and visibility of the resources and keep the maintenance costs and time low.

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