The Regional Agricultural Information and Learning Systems (RAILS) is a project initiated by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) in collaboration with the Sub-regional Organizations (SROS), ASARECA, CORAF/WECARD and SADC and the National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS).
RAILS objectives are:
- To undertake advocacy to encourage increased investment in agricultural information systems (AIS) by African governments and institutions;
- To improve access to information and the ability of African stakeholders to contribute to global agricultural knowledge;
- To facilitate synergies by linking African information conduits to global providers of agricultural information; and
- To develop an African platform for agricultural information and learning systems.
ARARECA/FARA-RAILS and Sudan:
Under the support of ASARECA/RAIN, The first workshop for the establishment of the Sudan National Agricultural Information Network (SNAIN) was held on Monday and Tuesday 30th -31st of August 2004 at the Conference Hall of the Training Centre, Agricultural Bank of Sudan at Khartoum. The main results of the workshop were the establishment and agreement of the Sudan National Agricultural Information Network (SNAIN). National Steering Committee (NSC) for SNAIN has been established and more national institution, Ministries, universities, NGOs, information and KM initiatives has joined SNAIN since its establishment. Sudan RAILS consultation was held at the Agricultural Research Corporation (ARC), Wad Medani during the period 20th – 21st of January, 2010. This workshop convened by FARA in collaboration with ASARECA and the Agricultural Research Corporation (ARC). The main objectives of the workshop are the following:
- Create awareness among stakeholders about RAILS and introduce the Africa-wide AIS being established under RAILS.
- Establish the national learning team to support the development of the national AIS gateway
- Agree on the roles, terms of reference (TORs) and outputs of the National Learning team (LT).
- Select members of the core national learning team and agree on its responsibilities
- Identify activities to be carried out by the learning team
The workshop was attended by 33 participants and guests of honors from Sudanese national agricultural research institutions, ministries, national library and information centers, universities and higher education, extension, national agricultural information networks, media, private sector and NGOs. Francois Stepman and Daniel Mwesige presented FARA and ASARECA at the workshop. The output of Sudan/RAILS workshop could be summarized as follows:
- Sudan/RAILS Learning Teams has been established under the framework of the Sudan National Agricultural Information Network (SNAIN) and their capacity strengthened to facilitate communication and knowledge exchange among diverse stakeholders
- The Sudan/RAILS learning team consisted of 13 members mainly directors of national agricultural research and information centers, library and agricultural knowledge managers, ICT and GIS professionals and extension specialists.
- Sudan learning teams capable of gathering quality contents and mobilizing other NARS stakeholders for content development, i.e. success stories, research results, investment opportunities, agricultural policies, etc. to be used in their own national platform.
- Each of the 2 selected focal institutions have acquired or improved its Internet connectivity and computer facilities to maintain a dynamic national RAILS network.
- Development of Sudan/RAILS dgroup: http://dgroups.org/groups/fara-rails/SNAIN
- Improved access and capacity to share information, learning and knowledge at national, regional and international level.
Under the support of the AfDB and partners, ASARECA/FARA-RAILS provides considerable support to strengthening the national capacities of ICT/ICM, enhance access and sharing of agricultural information and knowledge, exchange of experience between researchers, human resources development for both information and knowledge managers and research scientists. RAILS-Sudan actively created country gateway at eRAILS portal, www.erails.net and providing ICT equipment infrastructure support. RAILS-Sudan implemented a number of national workshops and activities at different parts in the Sudan to create awareness among stakeholders about RAILS and introduce the Africa-wide AIS being established under RAILS. RAILS-Sudan activities and projects work aims to achieve the common goals and objective by enhance access to information and knowledge for improved and sustainable agriculture growth in the Sudan. Since its establishment, RAILS-Sudan has developed strong collaboration and partnership with the other national, regional and international agricultural information and knowledge networks and initiatives.