World Agricultural Information Centre(WAICENT)

Information Services


Information Technology

Improving Information Access

Francisco Pérez-Trejo
Library & Documentation Systems
Division - GIL
Tel. (39) (6) 570 53425

World Agricultural Information Centre
Inter-departmental Programme on Information Services

WAICENT Components

The World Agricultural Information Centre (WAICENT), part of the GI and AF Departments, through the provision of a coporate platform for acquisition, updating, management and dissemination of information; access to FAO's databases and Virtual Library, and documentation on food and agriculture; and direct technical co-operation, assists member countries to establish and enhance their capacity to access, collect, analyze, interpret and disseminate information relating to food security and agricultural development.

The information services provided by WAICENT present a platform to enable member countries to access agricultural information that is essential to achieving food security and sustainable rural development. Using the most up-to-date technologies such as the Internet, WAICENT provides a mechanism for the decentralisation process that the Organisation embarked in, to improve its efficiency in servicing the needs of member countries. A series of corporate information tools have been set up for enabling access to FAO's information base, including FAOSTAT statistical services, FAOINFO providing textural and hypermedia services, and FAOSIS providing access to the data generated by specialised information systems.

Through the WAICENT information services FAO is able to organise and disseminate the wealth of information resources on agriculture, fisheries and forestry, and to play a key role world-wide in providing relevant information for the analysis, review and improvement of agricultural policies on food security. The use of Internet has provided the means for an unprecedented capacity to disseminate information in a cost-effective manner to millions of users around the world in Arabic, English, French and Spanish. As part of efforts to expand access to WAICENT, especially in member countries where the Internet is not yet widely available, a portable set of WAICENT CD-ROMs have been developed, including the FAOSTAT CD-ROM, AGRIS and CARIS CD-ROM and many others.

Providing access to FAO information around the world in a timely and effective manner has been a priority for WAICENT since its creation, especially in developing countries, where developing sustainable capacities hinges on strengthening IT infrastructure, including equipment, software, services and specialised skills. The Information Technology component of WAICENT has focused on establishing and improving networks within FAO offices and connectivity between FAO offices around the word. These links, referred to as the "Intranet" when used for internal purposes, employ the same techniques as those used to disseminate FAO information through the Internet allowing administrative information available to staff members in the field so that they can perform their tasks more efficiently.

WAICENT is actively involved in promoting and facilitating the capacities to access to collect, analyse, interpret and disseminate information relating to food security, and agricultural development in Member States, and particularly in countries targeted by the Special Programme on Food Security.

Support to the management of information relating to food security and agricultural development in member countries are being directed towards developing national capabilities, facilitating the transfer of information technology and establishing national information networks and partnerships. These activities are specifically aimed at enabling member countries to co-operate in policy and technology development through the Special Programme for Food Security, and other initiatives such as the Telecentres programme under the auspices of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).

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