TechTip: AGIS

Suppose you are an extension officer and you need information about the boundaries of a farm or on the soil properties in a particular district – life would be a lot easier if you could retrieve these data at will. Enter the Agricultural Geo-referenced Information System (AGIS), which has been developed in and for South Africa.

Suppose you are an extension officer and you need information about the boundaries of a farm or on the soil properties in a particular district – life would be a lot easier if you could retrieve these data at will. Enter the Agricultural Geo-referenced Information System (AGIS), which has been developed in and for South Africa. At the core of this CTA-sponsored information service are several geo-referenced databases that provide the facility to store, query and display physical, social and economic information crucial to agricultural planning and decision making. These databases contain interactive maps, graphs, text and pictures describing the variability of South Africa’s natural agricultural resources in terms of geomorphology, climate, soil and vegetation, as well as land use, agricultural industries and general socio-economic conditions. AGIS offers unprecedented potential to deliver information to agricultural extension officers working in rural communities, and is increasingly considered as an important tool for integrated and sustainable rural development in South Africa.

AGIS resulted from the combined efforts of the National and Provincial Departments of Agriculture and the Agricultural Research Council. The initiative strives to integrate the economic, social and biophysical information required to support sustainable agricultural development into a single demand-driven information system. Although still in its infancy, AGIS offers a single point of entry to comprehensive, integrated and up to date agricultural information as well as decision support systems.

Using the Internet as well as off-line CD libraries, AGIS provides an interface for agricultural decision makers, scientists, the staff of rural information centres, extension officers and the farming community to support their day-to-day activities. Decision support tools currently under development include a risk management system, long-term and monthly grazing capacity data, and a food insecurity and vulnerability mapping system, as well as the functionality to guide users through certain decision-making processes. In the future, specialist user support will be provided through an electronic question and answer service, linked to South Africa’s extensive network of agricultural scientists and researchers.

For more information contact Hein Lindemann , or visit www.agis.agric.za .

30 October 2003

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