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.

Languages

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 agrovoc@fao.org

Concept scheme

Concepts, their labels and relations are the basic notions for an RDF/SKOS-XL concept scheme like AGROVOC.

  1. Concepts are anything we want to represent or “talk about” in our domain. Concepts are represented by terms. A concept could also be considered the set of all terms used to express it in various languages.

    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.

  1. Terms are the actual terms used to name a concept. For example maize, maïs, 玉米, ข้าวโพด are all labels for the same concept in English, French, Hindi respectively.

    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.

  1. Relations (hierarchical & non-hierarchical)

    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.