Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Saturday, January 24, 2009

India's new wiki-based repository for agricultural research

India has launched the beta edition of Agropedia, a publicly-funded, wiki-based repository of Indian agricultural research.  From the site:

agropedia is an agriculture knowledge repository of universal meta models and localized content for a variety of users with appropriate interfaces built in collaborative mode in multiple languages. agropedia aims to develop a comprehensive digital content framework, platform, and tools in support of agricultural extension and outreach. In other words, it aspires to be a one stop shop for any information, pedagogic or practical knowledge related to extension services in Indian agriculture an audiovisual encyclopedia, to enchant, educate and transform the process of digital content creation and organization completely.

Using state of the art practices and techniques of the semantic web, agropedia is a platform where both specialists in the agriculture research and education domain and students and others interested in agriculture can make lasting contributions to the vast knowledge base. The specialists have a choice to contribute towards the gyan dhara (certified content) or participate in the interaction space to contribute to janagyan (emergent knowledge). All other registered users are co creators of janagyan (emergent knowledge) through their participation in the agrowiki, agro-blog, agro-forum and agro-chat like interaction spaces....

For more details, see M. Sreelata's article in SciDev.Net, India debuts 'agricultural Wikipedia', January 21, 2009.  Excerpt:

...The government-backed initiative, Agropedia, was launched last week (12 January).

It aims to disseminate crop- and region-specific information to farmers and agricultural extension workers who communicate agricultural information and research findings to farmers and provide information for students and researchers....

Content will be continually added and validated through review and analysis by invited agricultural researchers, in a manner similar to that used by Wikipedia and using open source tools, says V. Balaji, head of knowledge management and sharing with the International Crop Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), a partner in the project.

The site also houses blogs and forums where anyone can provide and exchange knowledge.

The 85 million-rupee (around US$17 million) project is being implemented over 30 months and is backed by the National Agricultural Innovation Project, a six-year government programme intended to modernise agriculture.

The World Bank and the Indian government have provided the funding for the project and six Indian agricultural and technology institutions are partners in the project, providing information and technological expertise....

It is hoped that even where farmers have no access to the Internet, the Agropedia information can be used as a basis for radio plays, for example, says Balaji.

Agropedia's lead architect, T. V. Prabhakar of the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur, initially envisioned the website as the equivalent of Wikipedia for global agriculture three years ago, but for now it will concentrate on India-specific information.

He says that the initial phase of the project developing a mechanism to manage the vast repository of knowledge is nearly completed, and the next step is to develop ways to disseminate the knowledge.

Trials will soon begin in six locations around the country.