UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
INFORUM; August, 1993
INFORUM was created at a workshop sponsored by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, the United Stated Department of Agriculture, and the Rodale Research Center in New Delhi, India in February, 1990. At the workshop a working group of scientists from 9 countries was formed to develop an initiative that could facilitate continued information exchange. The working group received support from the Ford Foundation and they met in Padova, Italy in October, 1990 and took the necessary steps to set up INFORUM.
INFORUM's mission is the development of sustainable land use systems. Its clients are individuals and local organizations that have accepted the challenge of developing more sustainable land use systems and are interested in both sharing what they are learning and learning from others. INFORUM is interested in working with other organizations and networks that provide services to these clients that compliment INFORUM's emphasis on electronic communications technologies.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
INFORUM has six board members:
Dr. I.P. Abrol Dr. Demitri N. Durmanov ICAR, Krishi Bhawan Dokuchaev Soil Institute New Delhi 110001, INDIA Pygevsky - 7 Telex: 31-62249 ICAR IN Moscow, Russia Fax: 91-11-387293 Telephone: 230 80 72
Dr. Evaristo de Miranda Dr. Peter Anyang' Nyong'o Director Member of Parliament ECOFORCA Nairobi Sao Paulo, BRAZIL Kenya Fax: 55-192-541100 Tel: 741080 Tel: 55 192-531363 Fax: 741080
Dr. Gelia Castillo Mr. William Dietel (Chair) Agricultural Education and Box 309; Flint Hill, VA 22627 Rural Studies; University of Retired; past president of the Philippines at Los Banos Rockefeller Brothers Fund Los Banos, Laguna; Philippines Tel: (703) 675 3104 Fax: c/o IRRI (63-2) 818 2087 Fax: (703) 675 3069
INFORUM's board of directors has decided that INFORUM's administrative office should be at an International Institution. This has been discussed with several organizations, including: The World Bank, IUCN, IFAD, ISNAR, and others. INFORUM's programs will be directed by partner institutions in different countries and continents.
INFORUM's uses electronic communications technology to:
- help local organizations in different countries with similar or complementary objectives to find each other and form global partnerships
- help existing global partnerships to efficiently exchange information and use this information to catalyze their local development efforts
- help existing global partnerships share the technology, methods, and general principles they have developed with local organizations everywhere
To accomplish these goals INFORUM is developing a set of distributed electronic services organized using the metaphor of an electronic campus. Different types of electronic highways can be used to access different types of electronic information management services: (1) commercial telecommunications networks such as SPRINTNET and TYMNET, (2) publicly-supported networks that make up the INTERNET, and (3) FIDONET technology based networks used by the Association for Progressive Communications and other non governmental organizations. Individuals and institutions can use these networks to access various types of electronic services, including:
a) electronic mail b) electronic bulletin boards c) electronic listservers d) electronic newsgroups e) electronic conferencing
INFORUM's distributed electronic campus is still under construction. A pilot initiative has been set up on a computer in Pennsylvania in the United States that can be accessed using SPRINTNET, the INTERNET, or FIDONET. Initial emphasis has been on electronic conferencing using a software program called Participate that functions as a shared database for online services, and a recent emphasis on using an Almanac software program for e-mail mediated services that make it possible to set up conference topics as listservers. Since Participate topics can receive electronic mail they can also join listservers on other computers and relay and archive information in a database.
The campus is organized into "buildings", such as a Conference Building and a Networks Building, which are subdivided into "rooms". Each room has a "bulletin board" for short messages, a "conference table" where conferees can discuss issues, and a "file cabinet" for longer documents that can be searched by key word.
The campus can be accessed through a direct online connections from SPRINTNET, or from the INTERNET by telneting PARTI.INFORUM.ORG. At the login prompt, type: inforum (in lower case), then at the username prompt type: visitor; then follow instructions to give yourself a username and password. The campus services can also be accessed indirectly by electronic mail by sending mail either to individuals or to topics or using the Almanac mediator to subscribe and request documents (this function is still being tested).
INFORUM is very interested in working with others to set up a distributed "campus" with "buildings" on different computers in different countries. A first step could be a network of listservers that are members of each others lists.
PROJECT EXPERIENCE TO DATE
Under the program area of brokering partnerships:
1. INFORUM's recently worked with IDRC and Winrock International to convene a 5 month electronic conference on livestock and development. Approximately 35 people from more than 25 countries exchanged more than 1000 pages of information.
2. INFORUM is working with the Rodale Institute to set up an electronic service for individuals and organizations involved in Green Manure research and training activities.
3. INFORUM is negotiating a contract for a project with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to evaluate the costs and benefits of cooperation among livestock projects in China, Guatemala, Kenya, and Turkey.
Under the program area of supporting existing partnerships:
1. INFORUM has been contracted by RIMISP (Red Internacional de Metodologia de Investigacion de Sistemas de Produccion) based in Santiago, Chile to provide support for their network.
2. INFORUM has been contracted by RISA (Regional Infrastructure for Sustainable Agriculture) to provide support for a project jointly implemented by Penn State University and the Rodale Institute.
Under the program area of information dissemination:
1. INFORUM is currently implementing a project funded by USAID in which institutions in Chile (RIMISP), China (Nanjing Institute), Kenya (KENGO), Senegal (RARC), Philippines (IESAM/UPLB), US (UC Davis), UK (U E. Anglia), and Zimbabwe (ZERO) have been working together to develop an electronic information exchange mechanism. A set of interacting listservers for topics that are components of sustainable systems (e.g. policy, agroforestry, watersheds, etc.) is being developed.
2. INFORUM is working with the Rodale Institute to electronically publish their AgSieve Newsletter.
LOOKING FOR CLIENTS AND PARTNERS
INFORUM is actively looking for institutions or networks that are interested in brokering new partnerships, supporting existing partnerships or in information dissemination. INFORUM is actively looking for partners that are currently providing financial support, technical assistance, or training to local institutions developing more sustainable land use systems. Please contact:
Robert D. Hart
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