Worldwide concern about the issues of food security and climate change is at an all time high. It is widely accepted that the most vulnerable communities, those in the tropical regions of the developing world, will be hit hardest. Investment in international agricultural research is being increased to meet these threats and technological innovations offer great promise for improved food output in the future. Additionally, there is much that we already know at both local and national levels if effectively disseminated and implemented, could immediately improve yields and reduce losses. However, in developing countries, much of this information is not readily accessible and not in a format that allows it to be shared within countries, let alone across regions.
CABI has been leading a project to preserve and disseminate valuable agricultural material, and the knowledge it contains, for the benefit of current researchers and generations to come. The Global Agricultural Research Archive (GARA) aims to digitally capture research and create a knowledge archive on behalf of three developing countries in Africa, South Asia and South-East Asia, namely Malawi, Pakistan and the Philippines. This is already a vital resource within these countries as well as offering the potential for creating an information network that could be shared across the region. The archive is centrally managed and maintained to enable preservation, disaster recovery and the long term protection of knowledge which might otherwise become inaccessible.
Improving access will liberalise agricultural knowledge. When research succeeds and outputs are documented, disseminated and preserved, just a small team of researchers has the ability to raise the productivity and income of millions of farmers.
In 2013, we will be working with RUFORUM, The Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture, a consortium of 30 universities in Eastern, Central and Southern Africa. RUFORUM’s Mission is to strengthen the capacities of universities to foster innovations responsive to demands of small-holder farmers through the training of high quality researchers, the output of impact-oriented research, and the maintenance of collaborative working relations among researchers, farmers, national agricultural research institutions, and governments. In support of this Mission, GARA will be hosting the full text of a selection of RUFORUM publications and staff papers.