Current Trends in Agricultural Information Services for Farmers in Trinidad and Tobago/Caribbean
Renwick, Shamin. 2010. “Current Trends in Agricutlural Information Services for Farmers in Trinidad and Tobago/Caribbean.” Paper presented at the World Library and Information Congress: 76th International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) General Assembly and Conference, Gothenburg, Sweden, Aug 10 – 15, 2010.
At present, farmers in the Caribbean are at the dictates and vagaries of the various trade agreements and government policies. Limited by colonisation and geographic location, in order to survive from an economic standpoint, trade agreements are being signed by Caribbean countries with surrounding and relevant countries/trade blocks which may work against the best interest of farmers, especially those who produce for export markets. Government resources are being committed to politically expedient policies and procedures which are often not holistic and do not take into full consideration farmer’s livelihoods, food security issues and the protection of the environment. In addition, the implications of climate change, reduced water availability, production of genetically-modified crops, and the mitigation of the effects of years of “green revolution” practices on agricultural production are some of the relatively new issues to be addressed. The information needs of the small farmers in this changing scenario, beyond that of merely traditional production and marketing information, should be recognised and addressed. To a large extent, authoritative, appropriate, factual information in a format and at a level that enables them to make wise pre-production, production and marketing decisions is not being made accessible to farmers. This paper discusses the sources of information for the Caribbean farmer including the traditional and the relatively new sources as well as those using ICTs. An overview of the current information providers, social networking efforts as well as barriers and constraints in the utilisation of agricultural information by farmers is provided