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i-Bulletin 8

i-Bulletin 8



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Published by CaRAPN

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Published by: CaRAPN on Aug 04, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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This is the final in the 8-bulletin series. The
aimed at promoting wider appreciation of information and knowledgemanagement for agriculturaldevelopmentgenerally and specifically, support for the IICA/CTA project on building amonitoring and evaluation informationsystem - MEAgrISys.
#8 of 2008
a collaborativeeffort of:Naitram RamnananCaRAPN memberand:Diana Francis
Trade Policies andNegotiations ProgrammeIICA Caribbean Region
enabled by:Technical Centrefor Agricultural andRural Cooperation(CTA –ACP)
The Views expressedherein are not necessarilythose of the CTA and IICA
Agricultural I Agricultural I Agricultural I Agricultural In  n nformation  formation  formation  formation Systems Systems Systems Systems projects  projects  projects  projects!  !  !  !  
CARICOM countries are no strangers to projects to developinformation systems in agriculture. 
We have had many national, sub-regional, regional projects; projects managed by Ministries of Agriculture, bydevelopment organisations, such as IICA and CARDI, by private sector agencies.There have been many! This current effort is just one of many recent initiatives.Its objective is not to solve all the information problems in agriculture inCARICOM. Rather, its objective is to stimulate a new thinking, outside the boxeven, of how we should approach the issue of building information systems inagriculture in CARICOM. This is especially given the new context for agricultureand the need to think and act in an integrated and systemic manner.
Are we making genuine Are we making genuine Are we making genuine Are we making genuine 
  progress   progress   progress   progress 
 ?  ?  ?  ? 
Consider this! In 2008, after many, many externally financed projects,needs assessments, and systems we are still listing “lack of information systems” as a major and binding constraint 
to competitiveand sustainable agriculture in CARICOM. Farmers complain that they are notgetting market information quick enough to make good decisions. Policy makerscomplain that they are not getting information from the private sector to feedthe policy process. Many the banks and financial institutions admit that they aregetting very little proposals for agricultural credits and loans, and they even if they did, they did not have the ‘information base’ to effectively assess theviability of these proposals.
Is the process backed by strong Is the process backed by strong Is the process backed by strong Is the process backed by strong policy  policy  policy  policy?  ? ? 
‘Lack of national information policy’, ‘limited value placed oninformation’ and ‘unwillingness to share information’ 
are often listedamong the major limitations to developing information systems in agriculture inCARICOM. This is aside from the usual constraint of limited technical (humanand information technology) capacity. Strong and enabling policy sends apowerful signal. It gives all a sense that the particular issue, target, industry orsector is important. It mobilises individuals to action! It provides a framework fororganising institutions, securing resources and implementing projects. Weak,ambiguous or no policy at all, also sends a powerful signal! This matter is notsufficiently important to warrant attention. It can be left up to its own devices ormarket forces. Is this how we value information generally and specifically,information for agricultural development? Then what have the many successiveand often simultaneously implemented information projects hoped to achieve?Can progress still be made in such an environment?
 tying information ne  tying information ne  tying information ne  tying information ne  eds to development goals  eds to development goals  eds to development goals  eds to development goals 
What What What What  
is this information?
Where Where Where Where 
 is it?
Who Who Who Who 
 has it?
Why Why Why Why 
 do we need it?
How How How How  
do we get it?
What What What What 
do we do with it?
The IICAThe IICAThe IICAThe IICA----CCCCTA project focused onTA project focused onTA project focused onTA project focused on tying information needs to development goals.tying information needs to development goals.tying information needs to development goals.tying information needs to development goals.
Such development goals are embodied theAgRuAgRuAgRuAgRu----matrix frameworkmatrix frameworkmatrix frameworkmatrix frameworkwhich forms the base for buildinga monitoring and evaluation information system tofollow-up on progress and to measure impact. It wasdeveloped mainly for the hemispheric AGRO Plan2002-2015. But because of the convergence of development priorities of Caribbean countries, it canbe easily applied to track progress and measureimpact of national agricultural policies andprogrammes and regional ones as well. AgRu-matrixdefines three key groups of partners in thesustainable development of agriculture and ruralcommunities. These are rural stakeholders,agriculture value chain actors and policy makers.Each of these groups interacts and take actionstowards particular objectives. AgRu-matrix defines aset of seven strategic objectives for sustainabledevelopment. These are competitiveness,environmental sustainability, equity, governance,rural prosperity, food and nutrition security andpositioning ‘building’ a new type of informationsystem for sustainable agriculture. The first four of these objectives relate directly to four keydimensions of development – Economic, Ecological,Socio-cultural/Human and Political-Institutional -that define the priorities for guiding actions andinteractions of the partners. It is these interactionsof the 3 partners along the 4 dimensions of development that leads to the definition of 12Purposes for actions. It is on these 7 macro-levelstrategic objectives and the 12 micro-level purposesthat the MEAgrISys project is providing theframework for building modern information systemsin agriculture.Current national agricultural information systems are not sufficient to provide the information required forplanning, measuring progress and monitoring the impact of development actions. The project does not intendto solve all national problems, or address all concerns regarding the weaknesses of agricultural information inthe Caribbean. The issues for the project were on
building: building: building: building: 
appreciation appreciation appreciation appreciation 
among information professionals, of the need to think outside the box, and see informationin a broader dimension;
awareness awareness awareness awareness 
among agriculture stakeholders of the value of information and the importance of sharing thatinformation for the benefit of the ‘agriculture’ system.
sy sy sy synergies nergies nergies nergies 
among existing interests and capacities on the ground; not re-inventing the wheel.
elements elements elements elements 
of an information system that are practical and mutually-reinforcing to cater to the needs of sustainable development that links agriculture to quality of life. The system will provide a tool fordocumenting and monitoring actions, evaluating progress and reporting results and expectations.
At the end
, the project hopes to provide: (a) a conceptual framework and methodologies for obtainingnational Experiences and Expectations, (b) a set of common Indicators for measuring progress, and (c) animproved method of reporting.
Making Information Work for Agriculture: Making Information Work for Agriculture: Making Information Work for Agriculture: Making Information Work for Agriculture: 
We often hear about 'declining growth rates', or 'declining shares of agricultural GDP', or 'exportsincreased by 5%', etc.
These conclusions are based on economic indicators that measure the status for aparticular point in time, or change between points in time.An ‘Indicator’ it is like a ‘pointer’ or ‘marker’ for asomething, at a point in time that has value andexpresses meanings. It is more than a statistic and isbased on accepted indicators to measure progress ormovement toward a stated goal or target. Indicatorsare quantitative and must be measurable. Indicatorscan help countries to track progress, measureperformance, identify trouble spots and show-upimportant trends. This information is part of what isneeded to enable policy makers, business anddevelopment organisations to redefine goals, realignand monitor strategic actions and adopt furtherdecisions to improve agriculture and rural life at thenational, regional and hemispheric levels.The MEAgrISys project has defined a set of Indicatorsas the basis for measuring performance in each of the macro objectives (national and sectoral) and eachof the Cell Purposes (micro level). The importance of establishing credible and measurable PerformanceIndicators at the micro level cannot be understated.A sample of a list of variables (main topics) that canbe used to determine progress at the macro andmicro level, for which Indicators were defined toguide data collection, analysis and reporting isprovided for two of the development dimensions,namely Economic (production and trade) andEcological.
EconomicEconomicEconomicEconomic - Macro
Cell ICell ICell ICell I:::: promotecompetitive ruralenterprisesCell II:Cell II:Cell II:Cell II: Integrate chains, fosterlinkages and enhanceproductivityCell III:Cell III:Cell III:Cell III: Promote enablingnational policies forcompetitive business
Position of Agriculturein National Economy;
Trade Dependenceand Performance;
Rural entrepreneursand InnovativeCapacity;
Institutional SSSSupport;
Entrepreneurial Activity andInnovative Capacity;
Chain organisation andintegration;
Private Sector Investment;
Macroeconomic PolicyEnvironment andInstitutional Support;
Trade Policy Regime andExtent of Openness;EcologicalEcologicalEcologicalEcological - MacroEnvironmentalSustainabilityCell IVCell IVCell IVCell IV: promotecompetitive ruralenterprisesCellCellCellCell VVVV:::: Integrate chains, fosterlinkages and enhanceproductivityCellCellCellCell VVVV:::: Promote enablingnational policies forcompetitive business
Status and quality of natural resources:water, land, forests,fisheries,
Resource Vulnerabilityand Degradation
Quality and use of natural resources in/close proximity to ruralareas;
Community-BasedDisaster ManagementCapacities;
Application of sustainableresource management (SRM)principles;
Utilisation of Agro-chemicals;
Capacity for Risk and DisasterManagement in the Chain;
Integration of SRM inPublic Policy andPlanning;
Natural Hazard andDisaster Managementand Adaptation toClimate Change;
The MEAgrISys project has defined a set of 
as a base for measuringperformance
in eachof the seven macro objectives and each of the micro purposes as defined by the 12 Cells of the AgRu-matrix,and as illustrated above. Using these indicators, countries and institutions can make more informed decisionson where capacity already exists to collect them and prioritise those in which capacities should be developed.

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