Libraries crucial to agric development

EDITOR — Libraries provide important services to agriculture and in the development of the country. The provision of information makes the library an essential democratic, and democratising vehicle.  
There is a greater demand for up-to-date information needed by farmers. This is made even more critical by the dynamic nature of agricultural information such as equipment, climatic changes, new technologies, pest control, and new types of small grains.


Farmers have to be kept abreast of new developments in the field of agriculture if they are to remain productive enough for the ever growing population.  The library and information profession have joined in this battle of disseminating information to the agriculture sector. 

According to Harry Chipunza, communities expect libraries to provide the necessary information required by the farmers. As source houses of information, libraries should expertly anticipate the information needs of the farmers. Libraries should not only collect, organise and store the information, but should make deliberate efforts to disseminate it as much as possible to the relevant target users. 

To be effective in this, it is important to repackage the information into appropriate media which suit the user categories.  This demands a high level of selective dissemination of information (SDI).  Libraries must provide outreach services to farmers within the locality instead of waiting for the farmers to come to the library in anticipation. 

To penetrate to the farmers and gain their acceptance, libraries must also produce quality products, for example, free social networking services. The farmers need information to know the procedure of increasing output, the use of fertilisers, useful pesticides, high yielding seeds, testing needs of soils, access to credit facilities, advantages of using plastic money and  marketing of the products. 

With such a wide spectrum of the various information needs of agricultural stakeholders, it is very clear that libraries need to develop a strategy of information provision so as to satisfy the information needs of users. 

Libraries and information centres are created to provide the information needs of the local people. The main concern of these facilities is the repackaging and the dissemination of information (which is often in foreign languages) in the language and medium best understood by the farmers.  

Libraries are therefore required to transmit the available information to the local farmers in the format they can understand. They should be able to closely monitor the information requirements of the agricultural sector. It is thus important that librarians be adequately involved in the activities of the sector in order to play a more meaningful role in the field. 

As already mentioned, they should endeavour to provide outreach services with keen interest and go out to the selling floors to disseminate relevant agricultural information to farmers. 

Librarians should work in cooperation with the Agritex officers who can offer expert advice in developing outreach services and repackaging of information. 
Learnmore James Kagwiro.

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