Rome -- AGORA, a programme that brings key scientific literature on food, agriculture and related fields to students, researchers and scientists, has become a crucial tool for some of the world's poorest countries.
Ten years after its launch in 2003, AGORA (Access to Global Online Research in Agriculture) now provides free or low-cost access to over 3 500 key journals and 3 300 books in food, nutrition, agriculture and related biological, environmental and social sciences.
'Lack of access to knowledge is a major bottleneck for many poor countries to develop their agricultural sector and ensure food security,' said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva celebrating AGORA's 10th anniversary in Rome.
Graziano da Silva added that knowledge is only valuable to the extent that those who need it can access it.
'And this is the strength of the AGORA partnership: FAO, publishers and the scientific community have come together to facilitate the access to knowledge to hundreds of thousands of people worldwide.'
'Knowledge is a public good. By putting this public good at the reach of those in the poorer countries, we are helping to break an important barrier that hinders development,' he said.
AGORA has opened the door on a huge array of technical knowledge for 116 of the least developed FAO member countries where food insecurity is greatest.
Individual scientists, academics and practitioners from over 2 500 institutions in those countries have downloaded millions of articles from AGORA over the ten years.
AGORA is one of the four literature access programmes of the Research4Life public-private partnership between WHO, FAO, UNEP, WIPO, Cornell University, Yale University, the International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers, nearly 200 internationally recognized publishers, and several technical partners including Microsoft.
'Our congratulations to AGORA for reaching a decade of service to scientists in the developing world,' said the CEO of Elsevier, Ron Mobed. 'We are very proud to be a founding member of AGORA and Research4Life - working with partners like FAO towards enhanced quality of life for all.'
The Partners of the Research4Life programmes, including AGORA, have pledged their continued support until 2020.