Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Working on the TAPipedia report

As soon as I finished working on the GODAN Discussion Paper, I found myself involved in another important deliverable; this time it was a report to be delivered to the Tropical Agriculture Platform consortium.

About TAP

In developing countries, most of the challenges facing agriculture and natural resources management can be addressed through innovation. But many developing countries don’t have sufficient resources or capacities to develop their innovation systems effectively. The “capacity gap” is worse in the tropics, where poverty is pervasive. In fact, investments in agricultural innovation in low-income tropical countries are less than 10 percent of the total global investment in agricultural R&D.

In an effort to address this problem, the G20 Agriculture Ministers requested that FAO lead the development of TAP. The G8 leadership also endorsed the development of TAP. TAP was launched at the first G20-led Meeting of Agriculture Chief Scientists (MACS) in September 2012 in Mexico. (source).

How did I get involved in this effort?

To make a long story short, there was an open call for consultation services, my colleague (and Agro-Know CEO) Nikos Manouselis applied and he was selected as an experienced researcher to work on a report describing the conceptual architecture of TAPipedia, recruited to help by the FAO Research & Extension team that hosts the TAP secretariat. TAPipedia is one of the three envisaged services of TAP, aiming to be "a global information system for innovation outputs, success stories, socioeconomic impacts, lessons learned, and analyses of impacts. TAPipedia will use virtual collaboration tools and media, and could result in the identification of demands for new areas of agricultural research". Nikos asked for some help with this deliverable and I was really glad to jump in and start working on that!

What are we actually doing in this work?

What we are actually doing in this report is to define the conceptual architecture of TAPIpedia, which is expected to be a complex, multi-functional service consisting of several different components. These components will serve different purposes, such as content management, file sharing and collaborative content creation and editing, collaboration and communication of TAP partners and stakeholders etc., so we are talking about a platform that is expected to combine a content management system, a digital document repository, a wiki, a collaboration platform, an analytics component and a service for publishing content as linked open data, among others - all of them open source and freely available.

It is a pretty challenging work that requires literature review (including previous related work from TAP partners), desktop research, exploitation of available knowledge and information from colleagues as well as detailed and organized reporting in the deliverable. We are currently in an advanced phase of the report, which at this point covers about 80 pages (without the Annexes). Despite the high volume of information that needs to be evaluated, validated and reused in the report, we are confident that we will provide a high quality outcome that will provide the basis for the actual implementation of TAPipedia at a later stage. This alone looks really promising and it seems that this specific work will have significant impact at a global level.