AIMS Newsletter no.46, December 2015

FOCUS ON agricultural information management in China and the Knowledge Engineering Division (KED) of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS)

Agricultural information management in China is becoming increasingly important with regard to challenges like climate change, competitive markets, diseases and pests, loss of agro-biodiversity, diminishing access to natural resources and rising energy costs. Especially the growing gap between well-connected farmers that are integrated in Chinese farmer organizations and isolated Chinese rural farmers in China is an important challenge that can be addressed with improved information and knowledge management. There is a trend wherein farmers work closer together in cooperatives, enabling them to increase their market participation. However, there are also rural farmers isolated from complex markets, which loose access to agricultural information due to a lack of knowledge, skills and technology. Thus, food chains are becoming more complex with multiple intermediaries while at the same time simple food chains are also re-emerging between farmers and consumers. Inclusive agricultural information management is one of the keys to allow rural farmers to join these complex food chains and to make farming sustainable and resilient.

The Knowledge Engineering Division (KED) of the Agricultural Information Institute (AII) of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Science (CAAS) focuses on agricultural information and semantic knowledge management. KED/CAAS’ goal is to support authorities and key actors in the agri-food chain in making solid evidence-based decisions. With this purpose, KED/CAAS collaborates with several Chinese organizations, including agricultural universities and academies at provincial level as well as with the National Science and Technology Library (NSTL). NSTL is a virtual umbrella institution that is financed by the Chinese Ministry of finance at the national level and that is constituted by major Chinese libraries and information-based institutions. Currently KED/CAAS is developing a “Knowledge Management Roadmap of CAAS” that aims to provide a national sharing system for agricultural knowledge as well as capacity development to reach all stakeholders in the Chinese agri-food chain.

The work of KED/CAAS is oriented towards the twelfth national Chinese five-year plan, a quinquennial strategic national development framework defined by the Chinese government. The plan includes a section on information management that was developed in cooperation with NSTL and contains seven goals focused on organization, monitoring and analysis of data as well as on big data, tools and usage of integrated thesauri for automatic indexing. Currently the role of KED/CAAS focuses on automatic indexing and a demonstration of the analysis and monitoring of databases. The upcoming plan (2016-2020) will address the reduction of the “digital gap” between farmers as well as the improvement of agricultural information services among other objectives.

As well as the implementation of the Chinese five-year plan, KED/CAAS also works on the integration of open access resources in a single platform and on the classification of resources using Chinese classification systems. Another activity is the development of a platform that automatically collects and monitors information about food and nutrition from the web. Furthermore there is a project concerning agricultural knowledge organization and data mining which includes trend analysis and “hot spot“ detection, to be able to select and publish only important articles that have been cited by other people.

The work of KED/CAAS is a good example of the current trends within Chinese agricultural information management: data and knowledge integration and centralization, knowledge organization in the semantic web as well as automatic aggregation, classification and validation of electronic content.

Highlights from the Community

  • Major repository networks agree to adopt common guidelines. On November 25 and 26, 2015 representatives from LA Referencia, OpenAIRE and COAR met in Rio de Janeiro to discuss the adoption of common metadata guidelines for repository networks and identify areas for further collaboration. More info
  • Call for Proposals for Open Repositories 2016: Illuminating the World. The Eleventh International Conference on Open Repositories, OR2016, will be held on June 13th-16th, 2016in Dublin, Ireland. More info< br />Using Drupal again, I am in the preparation of setting up a database in agro-chemicals for a consortium of sustainability initiatives. More info
  • Challenges and potentials of open data discussed at the GFIA panel session about open data for agricultural innovation.The session was part of the Global Forum for Innovations in Agriculture Africa (GFIA Africa) that took place on the 1st and 2nd of December 2015 in South Africa. More info
  • Exposing vocabularies for soil as Linked Open Data. This paper reviews standards for describing soil data and reports on the work done with the EC funded project. More info
  • The First NKOS Workshop at ICADL. The First NKOS Workshop at ICADL was held in conjunction with the International Conference on Asian Digital Libraries (ICADL), on 9th December 2015 at the Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea. More info
  • Data in libraries: the big picture. "Data in libraries: the big picture" is the theme for the Call for Papers by the IFLA Information Technology Section. More info
  • Workshop “Establishment of the International Network of Soil Information Institutions”. On 8-10 December 2015 participants from different National Soil Information Institutions gathered at FAO Headquarters to join their efforts in order to establish the First International Network of Soil Information Institutions (INSII). More info
  • IFLA TOOLKIT to support immediate advocacy for ACCESS to information in national development plans. Following the United Nations (UN) 2030, IFLA launches a new TOOLKIT. More info
  • Are databases under-representing scientific research by developing countries? The authors of the study set out to investigate whether mainstream bibliometric databases are misrepresenting science research, including agricultural research, in developing countries. More info

Conferences and Workshops

Upcoming Webinars

  • 27th Jan 2016. [email protected] on the use of bibliometrics in agriculture, by Ismael Rafols (Polytechnic University of Valencia)
  • TBA. [email protected] on CGIAR and big data, by Elizabeth Arnaud (Bioversity International) - in cooperation with the BigDataEurope consortium 


What does “Word sense disambiguation (WSD)” stand for? WSD is the task of identifying the correct meaning of a word in context. As a basic semantic understanding task at the lexical level, WSD is a fundamental problem in natural language processing. It can be potentially used as a component in many applications, such as machine translation (MT) and information retrieval (IR).

More info: Publications by Zhi Zhong and Hwee Tou Ng and Mark Saunderson.

"Latest developments in the Chinese Agricultural Information management sector", an interview with Xuefu Zhang

Read the interview with Xuefu Zhang in the AIMS Interviews section.


The scope of the AIMS Newsletter is to bring under the attention of the AIMS community recent news, events and achievements in the field of agricultural information management. If you have any contribution, suggestion, or need assistance with the newsletter, please contact us at [email protected] You received this message because you are subscribed to the AIMS Newsletter