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Information system vital for agri development

Information is power and the up-keeping of an effective and efficient information management system is paramount for NARI and the PNG National Agriculture Research Systems (NARS).

The maintenance and expansion of the Melanesian Agricultural Information Systems (MAIS), formerly the PNG National Agricultural Information System (NAIS), adds value in ensuring better management and usability of research information in the agriculture sector.

MAIS is home to over 37, 000 records of information that is currently shared between PNG, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

The Secretariat of the Pacific Community, in its efforts to revive a network of regional extension advisory services, to be called PIRAS or Pacific Islands Rural Advisory Services, recently conducted a series of meetings in PNG with major agriculture agencies, which included a workshop for MAIS operators from NARI, Coffee Industry Corporation and the New Britain Palm Oil.

Australia-based agricultural information specialist, Peter Walton, who had been instrumental in setting up MAIS, conducted the information knowledge management workshop (November 22-23 2016).

Walton said the workshop was aimed at training database operators as librarians to record, manage and make information easily available for their organisations and interested users. He said information management should not be taken lightly and the level of commitment in maintaining and providing funding support is essential. Walton added that the sustenance of MAIS can be better achieved through strengthened partnerships in information sharing and networking.

MAIS will also help in preserving historic information from potential losses to natural disasters, fire, and theft among other external factors.

Workshop participant and NARI’s Southern Regional Centre Information Associate, Roselyn Winston, said information gathering is one important part of research. Winston said MAIS is a good tool for managing information and sourcing literature.

She said some records kept in the system date back to the 1960s, making such information very real while availability of such information avoids duplication of past scientific information.

CIC Librarian Wahapo Kokorime and NBPOL Librarian Mariah Luange were pleased that their work (collecting and storing information) will now be made available online for other organizations and interested users. Luange agreed that storage, processing and sharing of information is very vital to support most organisations in the country as well as enhancing skills in research work.

MAIS is managed by NARI in terms of validation and uploading of contributions from all development partners including CIC and NBPOL. The database system has been in operation for the past 15 years.

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