AGRIS is a bibliographic database of scientific publications in the food and agricultural domain. The AGRIS web portal is highly visited, reaching peaks of 350,000 visits/month from more than 200 countries and territories. Considering the variety of AGRIS users, the possibility to support cross-language information retrieval is crucial to improve the usefulness of the web-site. This paper describes a lightweight approach adopted to enable the afore-mentioned feature in the AGRIS system. The proposed approach relies on the adoption of a controlled vocabulary. Furthermore, we discuss how expanding user queries with synonyms increases the sensitivity of a search engine and how we can use a controlled vocabulary to achieve this result.