AVAILABILITY AND UTILIZATION OF ELECTRONIC INFORMATION DATABASES FOR RESEARCH BY AGRICULTURAL SCIENTISTS IN FEDERAL UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES IN NORTH CENTRAL NIGERIA.

Author:Abubakar, Mohammed Suleiman
 
FREE EXCERPT

INTRODUCTION

Agriculture is the set of activities that transform the environment for the production of animals and plants for human use. Agriculture concerns techniques, including the application of agronomic research. Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi, and other life forms for food, fibers, biofuel, medicinal and other products used to sustain and enhance human life. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary human civilisation, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the development of civilisation. But irrespective of the categories, they are seen as phases of decision making that farmers' are required to face during the cropping season. Nevertheless, studies on farmers' information needs have taken various patterns such as gender, farmer group (e.g. youth) and development area; like men and women farmers' information needs revolve around the resolution of problems such as income generation, best farming practices, methods of fertilizer application, agricultural inputs, market prices, transportation, food processing and preservation and new agricultural technologies (Okwu & Umoru, 2009; Zaid & Popoola, 2010; Saleh & Lasisi, 2011).

Agriculture formed the bedrock of the Nigerian economy and was the major activity and foreign exchange earner prior to the discovery of crude oil in Oloibiri. Nigeria was then self-sufficient in terms of food production. However, with the shift to the oil and gas industry, coupled with the alarming growth in population, Nigeria eventually had to start importing more food. This situation has become a source of concern to many stakeholders. Agriculture, which should be the bedrock for a broad based economic growth and development in an agrarian country like Nigeria, had been neglected and needed to be revitalized and returned to the centre-stage not only as a provider of food for the teeming population, but also as a major foreign exchange earner for the country. Undoubtedly, agricultural research and training provide a solid foundation for a sound development of agriculture in any nation and the success of this, to a large extent, depends on access to information. Information on agriculture spans across major subject fields such as Animal Production, Nutrition, Crop and Plant Science, Soil Science, Agricultural Engineering, Pharmacology and the Environment. There are many sources of information in this regard available in articles published in scientific literature, conference proceedings, textbooks, informal communications and others.

Kumar, Hemanth & Subramanyam, (2012) studied the use and awareness of the Internet at the University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore, India. This study demonstrated the different factors such as Internet usage, awareness about Internet usage, awareness about Internet services, favorite search engines, constraints faced by the users in surfing the internet, various purpose for using Internet, and satisfaction of adequate infrastructure facilities provided to use the Internet. The authors discovered that the usage of electronic information resources cuts across all members of the university community as there was an increase in library use in the university which was a result of the introduction of The Essential Electronic Agriculture Library (TEEAL) that has 130 journal titles on CD-ROM. Scientists all over the world use various databases, journals and other e-resources to search and use the latest information in their respective fields and related ones.

The results of agricultural research are published through various channels of communication in order that the information may be communicated and transmitted to the agricultural scientists as speedily as possible. It is essential that the agricultural scientists be informed on time of the latest innovations and developments in their areas of specialization. Agricultural scientists investigate plants, animals and soils in order to research and eventually improve the quality of food, farming or the environment. Educational requirements generally include at least a bachelor's degree for the private sector and a graduate level degree for most jobs at universities and some research firms. In undergraduate and graduate programmes alike, aspiring agricultural scientists usually focus on an area of specialisation.

Devi, Maya & Prasad (2010), investigated the information seeking behavious of agricultural scientists in electronic environment with reference to the Indian Institute of Vegetable Research, Varanasi. The survey result showed that there was great impact of electronic information sources on the searching habits of agricultural scientists. 60% of the agricultural scientists spent 1 to 2 hours of their time searching electronic sources and 60% used it daily for their work.

In view of the above, agricultural scientists are to carry out research in order to increase the commercial plants, animals and cultivation techniques to improve productivity and sustainability of farms and agricultural industries. Agricultural scientists collect and analyse data and samples of produce, feed and soil, and study other factors affecting production, advise farmers and farm managers about techniques for improving the production of crops and livestock, advise farmers about issues such as livestock and crop diseases, control of pests and weeds, soil improvement, animal husbandry and feeding programmes; study environmental factors affecting commercial crop production, pasture growth and animal breeding; study the effects of cultivation techniques, soils, insects and plant diseases on animal and crop production, as well as develop procedures and techniques for solving agricultural problems and improving the efficiency of production.

An agricultural scientist, therefore, seeks new knowledge to support and strengthen the existing systems, and to establish new ones by applying scientific and usually experimental methods. This ranges from simple trials to advanced research according to information need. It is changing the way agricultural science professionals obtain information. They use the Internet and electronic resources to do things such as accessing agricultural records. Faculties and students also depend more on the internet. Agricultural product information, continuing education resources, online supply catalogues and reference information have made the Internet increasingly popular in agriculture. The study is an attempt to examine the role of the University of Agricultural Libraries that is established to provide information to the students, staff and scientists researchers in the university communities. One of the objectives of these libraries in Nigeria is to develop and maintain collections of information resources in all formats such as print and non-print and to make these information resources available and accessible to users.

Salaam, Ajiboye & Bankole (2013) studied the use of library electronic information resources (EIR) by academic staff at the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria. The study shows that most used e-resources in decreasing order were the CAB Abstract, TEEAL, AGORA, e-granary and HINARI. The scientists used EIR for various purposes; the major ones being for research.

Availability in this study is the extent to which electronic information database is available or provided for use by agricultural scientists in Universities in North Central, Nigeria. Availability, accessibility and use of information resources are indispensable to the teaching, research and community activities of academic staff members in any university system.

Information is an inevitable tool in the process of creativity; and that acquiring, processing and utilizing of relevant and timely information should be channeled through the development of perspectives (technical and human relations skills) among workers to produce novelty, new designs, new realities and new experiences. Swain (2010) in his study reveals that the majority of scientists are aware of EBSCO, and Emerald Management Xtra. Creativity is the ability to make connections from various pieces of information in a novel way and to bring these ideas to a fruitful result.

Database is an organised collection of information. The data is typically organized to model aspects of reality in a way that supports processes requiring information, such as the representation of agricultural scientists in universities to assist in research findings. Databases are mostly characterized by the kind of data they contain that is word, numbers or by their subject matter. Word-oriented databases contain, word or text as the principal data, whereas numbers-oriented databases often referred to as databanks--contain numbers, symbols, series, graphs and tables. The good news is that when you use an electronic database, you can be guaranteed that the information is reliable to a large extent. You can trust it. This is because all the articles and pictures and information that get into a database may have been reviewed by an editor. Plus, sometimes your teachers don't want you to use regular sites, it's better to use electronic databases that make it easy for you to cite articles.

An important result of Information Communication and Technology (ICT) has been the development of databases covering specific areas of knowledge. Their development has made easier access to relevant information on specific topic in agriculture. Scientific agricultural literature is pretty well accessible and users are well served by these modern information services. These sources of information are classified into CDROM and online. Some of the databases made available through these medium are; Centre for Agricultural and Bioscience International (CABI) Abstracts, Agricultural Information System (AGRIS), Agricultural Online Access (AGRICOLA), Biosciences Information Services (BIOSIS)...

To continue reading

FREE SIGN UP