Ghana Agricultural Information Network System (GAINS)
GAINS operates through a Coordinating Centre, based at the Institute for Scientific and Technological Information (INSTI) in Accra. This Centre acts as the referral centre for information requests on agriculture and allied disciplines and coordinates activities of 18 libraries and information centres of agriculture-related research institutes and faculties of agriculture of the universities in Ghana with the objective of providing effective and efficient information delivery services to users. This networking strategy is based on collaboration and cooperation that emphasises effective participation by the nodal points; it is not envisioned as being hierarchical.
A key focus is on establishing appropriate mechanisms for document delivery and inter-library lending service among the participating libraries of the network. One approach here involves establishing an effective system of collection development for pertinent literature from overseas, especially with regard to primary and secondary journals, as well as standard texts and reference materials. Creation of linkages with regional and international agricultural organisations is part of this strategy.
GAINS also provides tailor-made, selective dissemination of information and current awareness services to research scientists, policy makers, extension officers, and other personnel. These services include question/answer services, referral services, current awareness services, and publication of the GHAGRI Accession List. Research - in the form of a survey - was the key tool here used to identify the various categories of users of agricultural information and their specific needs.
Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are central to GAINS' networking and information dissemination strategy. For example, GAINS creates and maintains computerised databases of indigenous literature on agriculture and related disciplines, experts in the field of agriculture, a Union List of Serial holdings, and so on. The searchable GAINS website offers access to databases, as well as information, for researchers and scientists, policymakers and extension workers, and sponsors and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). In addition, GAINS uses Radio Peace, a Winneba-based community radio station, as information intermediaries to disseminate research findings to farmers. Finally, GAINS provides the Agona Swedru Agricultural Information Centre with a series of manuals on VHS videocassette. These manuals focus on topics such as grasscutter production, snails, poultry farming, mushrooms and seedling production. This organisation does not have internet access; officers of the Centre record the information needs of the farmers, and ask them to come back later. The officers then access the information the farmers need from commercial cybercafes.
GAINS’ objective is to establish a coordinated system to identify, collect, process and disseminate agricultural information generated in Ghana to support agricultural research.
CSIR, Biotechnology and Nuclear Agricultural Research Institute, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, University for Development Studies, University of Ghana, Ministry of Food and Agriculture Information Resource Centre, and University of Cape Coast.
Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CRIS) website; Information Intermediaries for Agricultural Livelihoods in Ghana [PDF], by John Ekow Yarney, iConnect - accessed on February 13 2006; GAINS website on December 22 2006; and email from Joel Sam to The Communication Initiative on December 26 2006.