Agriculture Information Branch

 

   

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 Information, both verbal and written, is to-day the worlds most valuable commodity.
Without accurate information, researches, extensionists, farmers, distributors and marketing agents and planners would become incapacitated. 
  Dr. Chris Dekuku.

Introduction:


This Branch consists of Information and Publication, Library and Multi-Media Productions. This Branch is responsible of designing and publishing the Papua new Guinea Agriculture & Livestock Web Site.

Objectives:  
The Information and Publication is involved in preparing and publishing agricultural; research and other documents from other divisions of Department Agriculture and Livestock (DAL).

The Library and Information’s Services is responsible for collection, processing and distribution of information at the national and international levels. It collaborates with similar institution overseas.  
The Media Productions is aimed at promoting agriculture through the Mass Media and is responsible for maintaining this Website.

Appropriate and timely Information is the key to progress in all enterprises. Lack of information or too late information normally retards progress and may result in failure to achieve ends or targets, and this is true for the agricultural industry too. In all the developed countries, agricultural information is a key component of National, Provincial, Districts and Individuals agricultural development and promotion systems, and is a major tool that helps decide on options. Effective decision-making results in progress and helps to prevent failures. Agricultural information as a tool in third world countries is poorly developed, not well understood, and therefore not much utilised in agricultural decision making processes. The Lack of information therefore results in overall poor productivity and poor production of the agricultural sector. It is important to have a good network of information services in the agricultural sector.   Farmers need reliable advise on farming activities, marketing information, trader and consumer preferences to make variable production decisions. Agriculturists and extension personnel need to be updated on new technologies and option, that they in turn pass on to the farmers   Planners need accurate data in making planning decisions for the sector.   The processing and dissemination of information must be done rapidly for it to be useful/profitable and to avoid it from becoming out dated/ failure.

Policies
he main goal of the Agricultural Information and Publication Support Systems is to provide efficient and effective information on agriculture on timely and regular basis for the success of the agricultural industry.

    The sub-goals are:

To edit, publish and disseminate relevant agricultural information in print form; such as newsletters, journals, farming notes, rural development handbooks and pocket books, for a wider spread of agricultural knowledge for greater knowledge dissemination to a wider audience.

To develop and rationalize sector information services to ensure that sectoral data are collected, processed and disseminated on a timely basis through the development and use of updated library and documentation options to give access to agricultural information to the community as a whole.

To produce up to date videos and photographs of relevant agricultural developments and issues, and use these to improve access to agricultural information on a wider scale for agriculture promotion in PNG.

To use information technology to initiate, investigate and harness recent developments in information technology to provide instant access to developments in agriculture at all levels across time and distance for a faster and wider dissemination of agricultural information at home and abroad.

Objective

To upgrade technical skills of personnel in the Agricultural sector by production, storage, retrieval and distribution of information and other knowledge related activities, through audio visual production, radio, library services, farmer, extension and scientific publication and AGRIS and CARIS, web-page and other electronic media.

Background and historical information

Papua New Guinea is an agricultural country with 85-93% of its population engaged in mostly subsistence agricultural activities. The country has adopted a policy of dynamic agricultural development. Currently, agricultural diversification and intensification is being encouraged to provide more job opportunities and for additional export earnings, import substitution and self sufficiency in food production.

Information, both verbal and written, is to-day worlds most valuable commodity. Without accurate information, researches, extensionists, farmers, distributors and marketing agents and planners would become incapacitated.

The development of new information technologies using computers, satellite communications, etc, has made information processing and dissemination easier and more efficient.

It is an acknowledged fact that agricultural scientists and farmers in the developed world, using the above stated advances, can have immediate access to scientific and technical information that is unavailable to many developing countries.   Policy makers in the third world countries at times find it difficult to understand the fuss that is being made on information needs, citing other more important priorities and oblivious to the fact that satisfying the information needs of farmers and extensionists has the potential to boast productivity/ production and hence reduce poverty.

Fortunately, in economic development and planning, policy makers are beginning to stress the role of information and extension provision as our important component in the rehabilitation of National Agricultural Systems.

The value of information lies in the fact that knowledge can be used   to guide decision making and to encourage the introduction of more productive systems or technologies.

Barriers to farmers, extension staff, scientists and Planners

There are many problems that prevent farmers, extension staff, scientists and planners from achieving their goals.   An obvious barrier is the general lack of access to agriculture information or the lag time for information to reach its target. Although this document suggests some high-tech innovation to complement conventional means of facilitating access, there are wider issues, most beyond the control of DAL, that will continue to undermine any intervention. In addition, most lack adequate knowledge and or information and therefore insight to recognise their problems to think of a possible solution or to select the most appropriate options or solution to achieve their goals. Our objective is to remove or reduce these barriers by making available relevant information and insight into the problems through effective and efficient Information and Publication Support Systems.

Publications

One of the ways in which Information and Extension Services of DAL is already assisting the agricultural sector in PNG is through publications.

The aim of DAL Publications is:-

  • To provide a means by which results of research can be made available to a wide range of people
  • To provide a communication link among National and Provincial staff in the form of the staff News Magazine and journals
  • To provide reference material for students at the D.P.I Colleges to be used in the course of their studies and afterwards when they get in the field.
  • To produce materials for rural development and community well-being.
  • And ultimately, to promote rural development and community well-being through printed educational materials
  • To establish the PNG Agriculture & Livestock Website in June 2002.

Publications available

A complete extension effort needs to be carried in many ways. One of the ways is of course printed material and the Department of Agriculture and Livestock has available a wide range of educational publications. These are;

Education material
Specific educational materials for publications are prepared with technical advise from various authorities both within and outside the Department. The publications are revised regularly. For new subjects to be covered and articles to be included, rely upon, suggestions for topics and contributions of material form all DPI staff and staff of stakeholders.

Farming Notes
These booklets are written in simple English and are targeted at farmers to help them improve their farming procedures or to expand into a new endeavour.   Many who request for Farming Notes are young students. Didimen and Didimeris find them useful as quick reference

Rural Development Series Handbooks
These are written at a more technical level than Farming Notes. They are designed to provide handy reference material. The aim is to present useful information to the rural community. It targets in most cases the professional agriculture workers who would use the books and subsequently pass on the information to their clients. These books are also useful in the Agricultural Colleges.

Village Tok
These booklets tell their story by means of pictures with a short explanatory sentence in Pidgin, English and Motu. They present the same sort of information as Farming Notes. They are aimed at farmers or school children with less than grade 6 education.

Field Pocket Books
These are small enough to fit into a shirt pocket. They provide ready reference information which is useful in the field. They are to be used mainly by Didimen and Didmeris and other experienced people.

Reports of research
All research booklets and bulletins are approved by the Directors of the divisions that are most closely involved with the subject of the booklet.   Most of them are the work of one or more authors. Publications Section is involved in editing if specifically requested to do so.

Research Bulletins
Reports on completed research carried out in Papua New Guinea is presented in a more detailed manner than would be true of an article in a scientific journal. It is especially valuable to research stations and colleges and the University as well as interested researchers overseas.

Technical Reports
These present information of a preliminary nature and other information, such as bibliographies, which are not suitable for the Research Bulleting Series.   One importance of this series is to ensure that information does not get lost as unpublished material. The information may later be published in a more widely circulated publication.

Extension Bulletins
These are published to provide field officers with information and particular applications of extension techniques appropriate in Papua New Guinea . They contain case studies of development projects, reports of field studies and extension research projects, and discussions of the basic principles of extension work.

Discussion Papers
These are another means of getting information, ideas and suggestions out in form which is readily available.

Articles to other publications
Articles to outside publications such as overseas journals, Wantok, New Nation, or the Post Courier are approved by the Directors/ Deputy Secretaries of the divisions most closely involved with the subject of the article.   It is expected that all research carried out in Papua New Guinea will be reported within the country either in full or in abstracted form.   Furthermore, an author having a paper published in a scientific journal should also arrange to publish an extension article on the same topic in, for example, Harvest or Didimag.

Fortnightly Bulletin
DAL Bulletin is a fortnightly publication for internal circulation for the staff of DAL and other interested readers. Its purpose is to inform staff of happenings within the Organisation. we welcome news and information, articles etc. which are of interest to the staff and families of DAL. Materials may be faxed, emailed or delivered to Information Branch, 7th Floor of Monian Tower, with attention to the Editor, DAL Bulletin.

Distribution
To fulfil our aim of promoting rural development and community well being, we try to get as wide a distribution of our materials as possible. All DPI officers at the District level and above receive copies of new publications as they come out and they are sent free of charge. Additional copies are charged as listed in the   “Whats in Print: put out yearly.

Libraries within Papua New Guinea who make requests are sent free copies of any publications which are appropriate for their clientele. Additional copies are subscribed.

Many Libraries and institutions outside Papua New Guinea receive publications on an exchange basis. Individuals an obtain any publications they wish but there will be a charge; which includes postage, If requested publications are not in stock, we will reproduce larger orders or make photocopies for smaller orders at current cost per page.

Publications on high demand are:

  1. Papua New Guinea Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Journal

  2. Harvest-Pan-Pacific Extension Journal

  3. Farming Notes – All topics including Poultry, Piggery, Coffee, Cocoa, Coconut and Vegetables

  4. Rural Development Series Handbooks

  5. Field Pocket Book – All Topics – Rubber, Coffee, Oil Palm, Coconut, Cocoa ,   Potato.

  6. Horticulture Notes – all

  7. Livestock Development Notes - all

All publications printed are recorded before despatch. The distribution section distributes approximately 10,000 copies of publications running into over 50 titles each year.  Although demand for publications is increasing each year,    production has dropped by 50 % due to poor budgetary support for upgrading  obsolete and unserviceable equipment.

A recent Reader and Listener survey showed that there is demand for more publications to be distributed to more centres. With the introduction of this website, as a resource centre, it is expected that access to agricultural publications as well as links to other DAL and Agency activities is now available to a wider population, directly. This strategy is outlined under the Agriculture Website section.

Agriculture Website
The internet is arguably the most innovative and convenient medium for transferring information efficiently in the business world. Information can be accessed anytime, anywhere and by anyone with access to the internet. With real time interaction, access to internet enables users virtual opportunities and knowledge that deceive the traditional global barriers of time. With internet comes the benefit of electronic mail or email. Like the direct market of information the internet provides, email and the internet are also the most cost-effective mediums of information transfer or exchange.

A web page is basically an interactive gateway to your shop. It must not only catch attention but also offer viewers the widest possible range of your products in the most simplified form.

Realising the need to streamline access or the exchange of information,  the idea of a PNG Agriculture & Livestock Web Page arose.

Ideally, the website would assume the domain for the agriculture industry and would host linkages to all commodity agencies and authorities such as NARI and NAQIA as well as NGOs.

As well as the departments functions and key activities, information databases and publications. An illustration of a draft website and associated links is enclosed as appendix A.

A key point to remember is that while we would want to offer material or products to viewers, not all viewers want to roam in a pool of information. They simply want to satisfy a query and part. It is therefore important that we realise the need to continually revise our website in order to make it most convenient for traffic. The strategy is to be as adaptable as possible for your most common product while not compromising other visitors.

Radio and TV
Radio and TV broadcast by far are the more practical means of information dispatch. Despite, their lack of inter-activeness these mediums have perhaps the widest audience range. The Media Unit will require equipment funding of K15,000 initially, and at least K10,000 annually to maintain broadcast material consistently.

Priorities
The main concern is to improve access and therefore the linkage between Research-Extension-Farmer through information. First priority of publications goes to activities directly involved with helping Extension officers serve the Primary producers. There is also a special concern for mainstreaming the continuity of periodicals and an insistence on high quality in content, clarity of expression and appearance.    Finally, in order to be sure that our publications meet the needs of the intended audience, an ongoing evaluation programme is important.

The Requirements for Year 2001 to 2006.
The objective for the year 2001-2006 is to rehabilitate and strengthen all units of the Information and Publication Support Systems Branch of the Department of Agriculture and Livestock. We need to

  • Rehabilitate the publication/printing unit by purchasing and replacing all outdated computers and printing equipment.
  • To update the library and documentation unit, by subscribing to essential and relevant periodicals and books
  • Revive and update the AGRIS [Agricultural Research and Information Systems] and the CARIS [Current Agricultural Research Information Systems] by timely collection and updating of data [This updating has stopped as a result of fund shortage]
  • To set up information exchange system by use of Internet and Web-page systems, to allow for access to and exchange of information with Provinces, Districts, other Departments and Outside/Inside Agricultural Agencies.
  • Set up Audio-visual unit to promote video, photo and radio information to support agriculture.
  • Review and re-edit all outdated publications, such as Field Pocket Books, Farming Notes, Rural Development Series, Horticultural Notes etc.
  • Promote and sponsor new articles for subject areas or crops that lack any information, e.g. Vanilla production, Hill-side farming, care and management etc.
  • Link up with Provinces in the establishment and promotion of Provincial Resource Centers as an important information link between DAL and Provinces/Districts.
  • Provide upgraded Staff Training and Development, to levels of current technology management.

Summary and Conclusion on Information Services
Information and the knowledge it generates are arguably the most important factors for change and prosperity. If change is for the better, then planning and decision making need to be premised on the most valid information. Yet in the Agriculture Sector, availability of authoritative information has been declining, inaccessible or at worst, not available.

Technology advancements today provide easy and complete access to the latest information from a wide range of disciplines. And the framework for instant delivery is nevertheless important for improving any delivery range.

Information and therefore knowledge can be converted into income and jobs, and the opposite results into failures. We thus need to ensure that credible Agriculture Information is gathered, processed and made available and/or delivered on a timely basis.

For Success, the information must be timely, innovative and suitable.

There is an urgent need to develop and rationalize sector information services to ensure sectoral data are collected, processed accurately and disseminated on a timely basis to users. We need to initiate, investigate, explore and harness recent developments in information technology to provide instant access to developments in agriculture at all levels, example is the use of internet and web site, Television, Radio etc to reach more people across time and distance. The method of information must be appropriate, sustainable and targeted at the respective users, such as illustrated handbooks, farming notes, pocket books, scientific and extension journals and rural newsletter for use by farmers, extension and development staff, scientists and policy makers.  

A national Agricultural information system currently in place in Papua New Guinea is simply ineffective, slow and outdated in certain areas, as a result of low fund investment in the agricultural information systems. The future of agriculture and its contribution to food security, job creating, employment and income would be enhance by an efficient and effective information and publication support systems. If only a quarter to half of the 85-93% of the rural/subsistence PNG population could get assess to agricultural information, it would help to bring them out of subsistence to semi-commercial agriculture. With increased productivity and enough surplus to market PNG would not need to import any food items that are grown or produced in this country. Subsequently income levels of households would improve. We believe informed agriculture is a sure way to improve on rural income, create jobs and employment, provide food security and reduce on rural poverty, and ultimately reduce on food imports and therefore save on foreign currency. Government is thus urged to provide adequate resources for effective and efficient agricultural information and publications systems development in PNG. The future of the world hinges on information, and agricultural information, especially in the developing would is ‘green minefield that must be explored and utilised’ to move the country forward.


Are you in need of more information? Go to:    Information Request Form

Point of Contact:

The Director
Agricultural Information Branch

Tel                     (675)    320 2885, 320 2884, 320 2899
Fax :                  (675)    320 2883

Address :            Department of Agriculture & Livestock
                          P O Box 2033
                          Port Moresby
                          Papua New Guinea

Email:                dalit@datec.net.pg

A recent Workshop in Suva, Fiji Aug/Sept 2004, sponsored by FAO/SPC launched EInPac...a webpage for all ICT (Information Communication Technology) Electronic workers to network all pacific island databases, digital libraries, and electronic resources...
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Last modified: December 29, 2004