The AGROVOC thesaurus was first published at the beginning of the 1980s by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations in English, Spanish and French. Its purpose: To serve as a controlled vocabulary for the indexing of publications in agricultural science and technology.
In 2000, AGROVOC abandoned paper printing and went digital, with data storage handled by a relational database. In 2004, a conversion to OWL was tested and in 2009 AGROVOC became an SKOS resource.
Today, AGROVOC is available in 27 languages as an SKOS-XL concept scheme, also published as a Linked Open Data (LOD) set which is aligned to 16 datasets related to agriculture, see AGROVOC LOD.
The advantage of having a thesaurus like AGROVOC published as LOD is that once thesauri are linked, the resources they index are linked as well. A good example is AGRIS, a mash-up Web application that links the AGRIS bibliographic repository (indexed with AGROVOC) to related Web resources (indexed with vocabularies linked to AGROVOC).
Currently, AGROVOC is a collaborative effort, coordinated by FAO. For more information on the AGROVOC community see People.
AGROVOC is a multilingual vocabulary consisting of 32,000+ concepts having labels in up to 27 languages.
Here below the total number of preferred and non preferred terms per language:
Moreover, Malaysian and Telugu are under development.
If you or your institution would like to contribute to a particular language or translate AGROVOC into a new language, please write us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Concepts, their labels and relations are the basic notions for an RDF/SKOS-XL concept scheme like AGROVOC.
In SKOS concepts are formalized as skos:Concept, identified by dereferenceable URIs (= URL). For example, URI http://aims.fao.org/aos/agrovoc/c_12332 is the AGROVOC concept for maize.
AGROVOC labels are expressed by means of SKOS extension for labels, SKOS-XL. The predicates used are:
skosxl:prefLabel, used for preferred terms (“descriptors” in thesaurus terminology), and
skosxl:altLabel, used for non- preferred terms.
In SKOS, hierarchical relations between concepts are expressed by the predicates skos:broader and skos:narrower. They correspond to the classical thesaurus relations broader/narrower (BT/NT).
Non-hierarchical relations express a notion of “relatedness” between concepts. AGROVOC uses the SKOS relation skos:related (corresponding to the classical thesaurus RT), and a specific vocabulary of relations called Agrontology.
AGROVOC also allows for relations between labels (i.e. terms), thanks to the SKOS-XL extension to SKOS.
The figure below represents a fragment of the AGROVOC concept scheme. Circles are used to represent objects with URIs, boxes are used for literal values and AV, SKOS and SKOS-XL are short for http://aims.fao.org/agrovoc, http://www.w3c.org/2008/05/skos-xl#, http://www.w3c.org/2004/02/skos/core# respectively.
The figure shows two AGROVOC concepts linked by the property skos:broader (hierarchical relation), each with an SKOS-XL label.