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Possibilities for agricultural ontologies at Ciat
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  • CIAT is one of 16 food and environmental research organizations known as the Future Harvest Centers. The centers, located around the world, conduct research in partnership with farmers, scientists, and policymakers to help alleviate poverty and increase food security while protecting the natural resource base. These Centers obtain funding from 58 countries, private foundations, and regional and international organizations that make up the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).
  • To reduce hunger and poverty in the tropics through collaborative research that improves agricultural productivity and natural resource management
  • CIAT’s research is conducted through a number of projects. These provide the elements for integrating research within the Center and for organizing cooperation with our partners
  • CIAT conducts international research on cassava, beans, and tropical forages with a global reach, while rice, and tropical fruits targets Latin America and the Caribbean.
  • A hardy root crop of tropical American origin, cassava ( Manihot esculenta ) provides food and livelihoods for about 500 million people across the developing world. Farmers particularly appreciate its strong tolerance to drought and poor soils. Some countries are tapping the potential of cassava’s starchy roots for processing into animal feed or for industrial use. Thus, in addition to strengthening food security, the crop offers new opportunities to generate employment and income for the poor.
  • This is the most important food legume for more than 300 million people, most of them in Latin America, where the crop was domesticated, and in Africa. Rich in protein, iron, and other dietary requirements, the common bean ( Phaseolus vulgaris ) has come to be known as the nearly perfect food. In addition to bolstering human nutrition, it has considerable economic importance, generating income for millions of small farmers. In Africa the vast majority of bean producers are women.
  • The many species of tropical forages are a prominent feature of agricultural landscapes around the world. Improved forage grasses and legumes boost meat, milk, and fish production, helping to enhance human nutrition and raise farm income. But they also have many other uses beyond their traditional role in livestock production. Nitrogen-fixing legumes, for example, enhance soil fertility, increasing the productivity of other crops.
  • Rice ( Oryza sativa ) is the most important food grain in most of the tropical areas of Latin America and the Caribbean, where it supplies more calories in people’s diets than wheat, maize, cassava, or potatoes. More efficient rice production is a central prerequisite for enhancing lives of the rural poor.
  • An estimated 2,300 tropical fruit species show production potential. Some of them offer small farmers the opportunity to break into lucrative domestic and export markets, while at the same time improving family nutrition and land management.
  • CIAT’s integrated research on crops and natural resource management centers on three major agroecosystems: hillsides, forest margins, and savannas. Africa and Asia Much of the improved crop seed that CIAT develops in tropical America, together with many of the tools we devise for natural resource management, are also applicable in key environments of other regions. Our products are especially relevant to the midaltitude areas of eastern, central, and southern Africa as well as to the uplands of Southeast Asia—environments that are similar in many ways to the tropical American hillsides.
  • The CIAT’s experience and knowledge in diverse agricultural topics is widely recognized. Commodities like cassava, common bean, tropical forages, and rice have been studied for more than thirty years, which represent a tremendous amount of knowledge. But the experience is not only on research activities; also the organization of knowledge has been an important issue in CIAT’s life. In 1972 and 1975 “specialized information centers” on cassava and beans, were created with support from IDRC. In 1978, , a similar center was established for tropical forages. In this process, thematic thesauri were created and were used to organize knowledge. The resulting experience together with its research and information management makes CIAT an invaluable source for ontologies. An example:
  • Several years ago, CIAT’s Rural Agroenterprise Development Project, based on user- requests, started to create the “Information System on Postharvest Management and Processing of Cassava: Helping farmers to plan and make decisions”. This system, that will start operationing in July 2002, was actually perceived as an ontology, without the authors knowing the concept.
  • The idea is that users, based on this categories, can navigate easily to find the information required through a number of hyperlinks. Every concept, depending on its nature, will include a brief definition; Also data and images, among others, will be included.
  • In addition to the various comments and questions regarding the AOS Project, I’d like to point out that: CIAT considers the AOS project as an important and ambitious initiative to improve access to agricultural knowledge. CIAT has knowledge domains in several agricultural topics for which ontologies may be created. Type of participation and responsibilities need to be clearly defined CIAT’s participation in the project will depend on the human and financial resources involved Regional information systems, such as the Agricultural Information and Documentation System for Latin America and the Caribbean (SIDALC), might be better suited participants than individual organizations Ontologies should be user-driven Mini-ontologies could play an important role to satisfy specific needs Local KOSs could be improved and integrated into existing structures.


  • 1. Possibilities for Agricultural Ontologies At Ciat Information and Documentation Unit CIAT Mariano Mejía University of Florida Gainesville, Fl 9-10 May, 2002
  • 2. Contents
    • An Overview of CIAT
    • Knowledge Domains and Possible Ontologies
    • A Sample Ontology for Cassava Postharvest and Processing
    • Comments on the AOS Project
  • 3.
    • An Overview of CIAT
    • Knowledge Domains and Possible Ontologies
    • A Sample Ontology for Cassava Postharvest and Processing
    • Comments on the AOS Project
  • 5. CIAT's Mission
    • Reduce hunger and poverty
    • Tropics
    • Collaborative research
    • Agricultural productivity
    • Natural resource management
  • 6. Project Portfolio
    • Institutional links
    • Crop improvement
    • Agrobiodiversity
    • Pest and diseases
    • Soils and systems
    • Land management
  • 7. Crop Focus Cassava Beans Rice Tropical fruits Tropical forages
  • 8. Cassava (Manihot esculenta )
    • Provides food and livelihoods for 500 million people
    • Tolerant to drought and poor soils
    • Potential for animal feed or for industrial use
    • New opportunities for employment and income
  • 9. Common Bean (Phaseolus vulgaris)
    • Important for more than 300 million people
    • Latin America, and Africa
    • Protein, iron, and other dietary requirements
    • Economic importance
  • 10. Tropical Forages
    • Prominent feature of agricultural landscapes
    • Boost meat, milk, and fish production
    • Nitrogen-fixing legumes enhance soil fertility
    • Increase the productivity of other crops
  • 11.
    • The most important food grain in tropical areas
    • Supplies more calories than wheat, maize, cassava, or potatoes
    • Important for enhancing lives of the rural poor
    Rice ( Oryza sativa )
  • 12. Tropical Fruits
    • 2,300 species show production potential
    • Lucrative domestic and export markets
    • Family nutrition and land management
  • 13. Target Agroecosystems Hillsides Savannas Forest Margins
  • 14.
    • An Overview of CIAT
    • Knowledge Domains and Possible Ontologies
    • A Sample Ontology for Cassava Postharvest and Processing
    • Comments on the AOS Project
  • 15. Knowledge Domains and Possible Ontologies
    • Experience and knowledge on agricultural topics
    • Organization of knowledge
    • Ontologies for an heterogeneous audience
  • 16. Ontology for Cassava Cassava Botany Physiology Biotechnology Genetics Agronomy Entomology Phytopathology Economics Planting Fertilization Irrigation Harvesting Manual Mechanical Agricultural practices Postharvest
  • 17.
    • An Overview of CIAT
    • Knowledge Domains and Possible Ontologies
    • A Sample Ontology for Cassava Postharvest and Processing
    • Comments on the AOS Project
  • 18.
    • Information System on Postharvest Management and Processing of Cassava:
    • Helping farmers to plan and make decisions
  • 19. Knowledge is organized in six categories:
    • Cassava: general context
    • Postharvest management
    • Processing and utilization
    • Quality control
    • Looking at the future
    • Contacts and additional information sources
  • 20. Processing and Utilization
    • Fresh and processed roots
    • Dry roots and derivates
      • Processes for obtention
      • Uses
      • Markets
      • Quality standards
    • Starch
    • Co-products
    • Foliage
    • Byproducts
  • 21.
    • An Overview of CIAT
    • Knowledge Domains and Possible Ontologies
    • A Sample Ontology for Cassava Postharvest and Processing
    • Comments on the AOS Project
  • 22. Comments on the AOS Project
    • Opportunities for AOS use
      • Institutional & Inter-inst. Level (CGIAR-FAO)
      • Country level (Colombia)
      • Regional level (SIDALC)
      • International level (AGRIS)
  • 23.
    • Other issues
      • AOS based on users needs
      • Participation and responsabilities
      • Human & Financial resources
  • 24. Thank you Gracias
  • 25.