CASE STUDY: Institution Based Systems, Ghana. GAINS
The organizers of the 2nd Expert Consultation on International Information System for Agricultural Sciences and Technology (IISAST) invited actors from the national level to document their experiences in developing information systems and institutional networks in the form of case studies. This approach had been recommended by the Advocacy Task Force, so that lessons drawn from these case studies would provide the basis of advocacy with the key stakeholders.
The Ghana Agricultural Information Network System (GAINS) is a Ghanaian information network which has primarily been used for the sharing of agricultural research information. Since 1991, it has linked the libraries of 18 of Ghana's agricultural research and academic facilities to each other and to external contacts. It facilitates a question and answer service to address stakeholders' agricultural information needs, attempts to improve the accessibility of locally produced research, and builds the capacity of stakeholder institutions' libraries and information management professionals. It is managed by a coordinating centre based in the secretariat of the Ghana Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
GAINS' purpose is to bring together the creators and disseminators of agricultural research information in Ghana to increase information sharing and collectively address their common needs. GAINS' coordinating centre has been increasing stakeholders' collective access to scientific information, especially international journals, and in seeking external partnerships. However, the network faces major challenges in assisting its member institutes to improve their own information management and sharing capabilities. Despite the efforts of the coordinating centre, locally generated research output is still quite difficult to access, as very few of GAINS' member institutes have functioning repositories of their research output, and even fewer effectively share their output with the rest of the network. GAINS was formed as part of a national government program, rather than from the initiative of member institutes, and members have often been unwilling to devote sufficient resources to their library systems or to the network. GAINS is currently trying to re-position itself to increase member participation, and recently held stakeholder workshops for this purpose.
GAINS has also recently been attempting to expand its focus to address the needs not only of research and academia, but also of end users such as farmers and intermediaries such as extension agents and community radio stations. This is partly in response to donor funding priorities.
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