Tools & Services



In how many languages is AGROVOC available?

AGROVOC is currently available in up to 36 languages: in 6 FAO languages - English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Russian and Chinese, and in other 27 languages, including: Arabic, Chinese, Czech, Danish, English, French, German, Hindi, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Lao, Malay, Norwegian Bokmål, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Slovak, Spanish, Swahili, Swedish, Telugu, Thai, Turkish and Ukrainian. For all languages, please, take a look at: http://agrovoc.uniroma2.it/agrovoc/agrovoc/en/

What topics does AGROVOC cover?

AGROVOC covers all areas of interest to FAO, such as food, nutrition, agriculture, forestry, fisheries, names of animals and plants, environment, biological notions, techniques of plant cultivation, etc. The thesaurus is hierarchically organized under 25 top concepts. The graphic below shows the distribution of concepts under these top concepts:

Does AGROVOC include scientific taxonomies and names of plants and animals?

Yes, some 80% of AGROVOC concepts are about animals and plants. They can be found under the top concept "Organism".

Does AGROVOC include geographical entities?

Yes, AGROVOC includes geographical entities, such as countries and continents, under top concept "entities". It also includes geographical entities such as lakes and mountains, which can be found under "features". The fact that a given lake passes through a given country, is expressed by means of the concept to concept relation “Spatially includes”.

Concepts referring to geographical entities are grouped together in “subvocabularies of concepts”. Currently AGROVOC distinguishes the following ones:

  1. 1. Geographical entities country level
  2. 2. Geographical entities above country level
  3. 3. Geographical entities below country level

What type of information is attached to AGROVOC concepts?

For each concept in AGROVOC we can distinguish the following types of information:

  • Terminological information: All the terms/labels in all languages that represent the concept.
  • Structural information: Relations between concepts and between terms.
  • Semantic information: Definitions and/or pictures of the concept.
  • Editorial information: Editorial notes and scope notes.

I think I noticed an error, how can I communicate this to AGROVOC?

Write us at [email protected]
And thank you for letting us know!

My language is not covered by AGROVOC. Can it be added?

Yes, with your help :) For the maintenance of each language version we collaborate with different domain experts (or information managers with domain knowledge). For the current community of AGROVOC editors, see People.
If you are interested in translating (a part of) AGROVOC into your language, please let us know by writing to [email protected] and we will provide you with the needed support.

How is the quality of AGROVOC content ensured?

All AGROVOC editors are recognized experts in the field, working in centers of recognized value in the area of agriculture. Moreover, our workflow distinguishes two editorial roles: “validator” and “editor”. Beyond being very knowledgeable in their specific area of expertise, validators are also well acquainted with the AGROVOC structure and editorial issues. Validators are entitled to accept or reject contributions made by editors.

Editorial guidelines for editors (English content) and validators are avilable. The latest version of the guidelines is available online as a wiki page, while the stable version from May 2015 is available as a pdf. These guidelines support the editors in understanding how AGROVOC is constructed and how terms or concepts can be best inserted or updated within AGROVOC. 

Why do URIs use numbers and not terms?

A typical URI (or URL) for an AGROVOC concept has this shape:

The English label for this concept is "maize", and people often ask: why don't you use
http://aims.fao.org/aos/agrovoc/c_maize instead, just like Wikipedia does?

Well, the point is that AGROVOC has terms in many languages. How to chose only one among them? Also, what if no term in that language was available for some concepts? That is why we chose numeric URIs

AGROVOC is a KOS. What does this mean?

KOS stands for Knowledge Organization System. Thesauri, authority lists, controlled vocabularies and classification systems are examples of KOS. In particular, AGROVOC is a KOS because its terms and concepts are normally used as values of certain metadata properties. For example a concept from AGROVOC may be used as the value of dct:subject, the Dublin Core property used to indicate the topic of a resource (see http://dublincore.org/documents/dcmi-terms/).


AGROVOC core and AGROVOC LD - What is the difference?

See question: How can I access AGROVOC?

In what sense is AGROVOC a concept scheme?

AGROVOC is a concept scheme in the sense that it attempts to provide an organization of the domains related to agriculture.

AGROVOC is also a concept scheme in a more technical meaning, related to the fact that AGROVOC consists of a number of SKOS concepts.

AGROVOC was born as a purely terminological resource hierarchically organized, i.e., a thesaurus. Now, AGROVOC is a full fledged web oriented resource available in RDF, in which all notions related to thesauri (e.g., the traditional notions of RT and BT/NT) have a translation into SKOS properties.

Concepts and terms - what is the difference?

A Concept may be just anything about which we want to say something. Concepts are represented by terms, i.e. words in a given language.

In SKOS, concepts are formalized as skos:Concept and identified by dereferenceable Uniform Resource Identifier (URIs), that is, URL. For example, URI http://aims.fao.org/aos/agrovoc/c_12332 is the AGROVOC concept for maize.

Terms, or labels, 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.

In AGROVOC, concepts always have at least one preferred term (or descriptor, in the classical terminology of thesauri) in each given language, and zero or more non-preferred term. In the RDF jargon, terms are called labels: preferred labels, and non preferred labels. In order to achieve more expressivity, AGROVOC uses the 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.

For more information see the About AGROVOC page or the AGROVOC publications page.

How is AGROVOC organized?

AGROVOC is organized as a hierarchy of concepts that have names in various languages (up to 36). A concept is expressed by terms, as in the case of “maize”, “maïs”, “玉米”, “ข้าวโพด”, which are all terms (labels) for the same concept in English, French, Hindi respectively.

AGROVOC concepts are hierarchically organized under 25 general top concepts, such as: activities, processes, methods etc. The figure below depicts a few AGROVOC top level concepts (as visualized in VocBench, AGROVOC's editing tool). Concepts may also be linked by non hierarchical relations, either expressing a generic notion of “relatedness”, or expressing some more refined relation (e.g. something “is a product of” something else).

From a formal point of view, AGROVOC is an RDF/SKOS-XL concept scheme. The classical BT/NT thesauri relations are expressed by the SKOS predicates skos:broader and  skos:narrower. For non-hierarchical relations between concepts and terms, AGROVOC uses the SKOS property skos:related, and a number of subproperties of skos:related, that are grouped together and called the Agrontology vocabulary.

AGROVOC RDF file. What should I do with it?

AGROVOC.rdf is a file containing the AGROVOC data in RDF-SKOS format or rather, various serializations of RDF: RDF/XML, N3, NQ, TRIX. It is not a program to install!

The file is big, but usually RDF files are not build to be read by humans, but by machines. Files like that are either loaded into a triple store (e.g., Sesame, OWLIM, ...) or loaded into an rdf editor/viewer (e.g. TopBraid, Protege) or parsed by an application (by IT people...). Once in your triple store (e.g. OWLIM, Sesame), you can manipulate the data as you like and use it in your application.

However, if your goal is simply to inspect the AGROVOC content, we suggest that you use either the online AGROVOC browsing tool (http://aims.fao.org/standards/agrovoc/functionalities/search), or the web-based AGROVOC editing tool (rather, its Sandbox version: http://agrovoc.uniroma2.it/vocbench3/    (AGROVOC test version, registration needed).


Who is the owner of AGROVOC?

AGROVOC was created in the 1980s by FAO as an indexing tool for the AGRIS repository. Nowadays, AGROVOC is maintained by a wide community of experts and institutions, with the coordination and technical support of FAO. For more information about the people involved in AGROVOC, see People.

Copyright for AGROVOC content in FAO languages - English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Russian and Chinese - is with FAO, while content in other languages rests with the institutions that authored it. 

AGROVOC thesaurus content in English, Russian, French, Spanish, Arabic and Chinese is licensed under the international Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY IGO 3.0). This licence allows you to SHARE: copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format; ADAPT : remix, transform, and build upon the material, for any purpose, even commercially.  You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use. No additional restrictions: You may not apply legal terms or technological measures that legally restrict others from doing anything the license permits. If you need further assistance or have any questions related, please contact [email protected].


Who maintains AGROVOC?

AGROVOC is a collaborative effort.

The AGROVOC team of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN keeps AGROVOC up to date, together with a number of institutions and individual domain experts serving as focal points for specific languages or topics.

FAO carries mainly the responsibility for the six FAO languages (English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese and Russian), facilitates the technical maintenance of AGROVOC, including its publication as a Linked Open Data resource, and coordinates all editorial activities.

See the list of institutions collaborating on the maintenance of AGROVOC.

How often is AGROVOC updated?

AGROVOC is updated by our editors and our team on a continuous basis. Updated AGROVOC content will be released once a month.

I would like to become an AGROVOC editor. How should I proceed?

Talk to the AGROVOC team. The procedure for becoming an editor is the following:

A) As a first step you should register on the VocBench Sandbox, where you can learn how the system works and where you can experiment with adding concepts, terms and relations as you wish. This is the link: http://agrovoc.uniroma2.it:8080/vocbench3/ (lfirst register for agrovoc-test version).  You will receive an email asking for a little more information, please reply to that. 

B) As soon as you feel comfortable with the system, please contact us at [email protected]

C) The last step is the registration on the VocBench production version. Once registered on the production version you can edit the actual AGROVOC thesaurus.

We have manuals for editors that explain how to work with VocBench and how to edit the AGROVOC thesaurus itself.

The editing process: After having edited the thesaurus within the VocBench production version, your editing will be validated (accepted or rejected). Once the editing is accepted, it will be part of AGROVOC after the next update (uually monthly). We are looking forward to your cooperation!

I am AGROVOC editor. Where shall I "put" this new concept I want to add?

We have created a manual for editors, which are meant to guide you through the process of contributing to AGROVOC. Currently these guidelines are only available in English and have a special focus on the English version of AGROVOC. Dedicated guidelines for other languages may be developed in the future.

Tools & Services

What tool is used to maintain AGROVOC?

AGROVOC is edited using VocBench (VB), a web-based vocabulary management tool. VocBench fully supports multilinguality and embodies a formalized editorial workflow. Current release is 3.4.
VocBench allows for the distinction between "user roles", such as "editors" and "validators", with the possibility for validators of approving or rejecting "draft" edits. Also, different types of editing rights may be assigned by language. For more information see the VocBench User Manual.

The VocBench installation used to maintain AGROVOC is available only to AGROVOC editors. But if you want to explore VB functionalities, feel free to use the VocBench agrovoc-test (AGROVOC test version). Registration is needed. It shows AGROVOC data that may be safely modified and even deleted (real data is elsewhere! :)

Are there Web Services for AGROVOC?

The AGROVOC Web Services provide a way to include AGROVOC data in your application, with no download of data in your local system. Nearly 20 methods are available, as per the list below. From a technical point of view, the AGROVOC web services expose the AGROVOC rdf data (accessed through the SPARQL endpoint of AGROVOC, http://agrovoc.uniroma2.it/sparql) through SOAP Web Services technology.

Here the list of currently maintained Web Services. Note that no further web services will be developed in the future; access to AGROVOC through the current SPARQL endpoint is recommended.



How can I access AGROVOC?

You may access the latest version of AGROVOC in various ways:

  • Online
    Search & browse AGROVOC.
  • Live - always the latest version!
    Run SPARQL queries against AGROVOC through the SPARQL endpoint (Fuseki).
    Access the AGROVOC Web services which access the RDF version through the SPARQL endpoint.
  • Download in RDF the AGROVOC Core (contains AGROVOC concepts, terms and relations) or AGROVOC LOD (contains AGROVOC concepts, terms and relations + links to external datasets, see the AGROVOC LOD page for details on the linked resources).

For previous versions and more information on ways to access AGROVOC, visit the Access page.

Do I need to pay something to use AGROVOC? 

No, you do not need to pay anything. AGROVOC thesaurus content in English, Russian, French, Spanish, Arabic and Chinese is released under the international licence CC BY IGO 3.0. This licence allows you to SHARE: copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format; ADAPT: remix, transform, and build upon the material, for any purpose, even commercially. You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use. No additional restrictions: You may not apply legal terms or technological measures that legally restrict others from doing anything the license permits. If you need further assistance or have any questions related, please, contact [email protected].

Do I need to register to use AGROVOC? 

No, you do not need to register. Simply visit the Access AGROVOC page and open the links you are interested in.

Can l view or browse hierarchies when viewing AGROVOC online?

Please go to AGROVOC online at  http://aims.fao.org/standards/agrovoc/functionalities/search enter a search term, e.g. development, and click on 'search'. You will get a list of term results that match your search. When you click on one of the concepts, in the left panel the hierarchy of the selected concept will appear and in the right panel all the information regarding the concept. To navigate within the hierarchy, just click on other concepts in the left panel.

I am indexing agricultural articles. How do I get access to the AGROVOC thesaurus in order to search it?

You can search AGROVOC concepts and terms at http://aims.fao.org/standards/agrovoc/functionalities/search

I would like to use the AGROVOC Web services for my application. How to proceed?

First of all, you need to decide whether the web services are the solution for you. Remember that AGROVOC is also available for download and for access through its SPARQL endpoint. We actually recommend the use of the SPARQL endpoint. If you decide for the web services, and you are reading these FAQ, then you should probably liaise with your IT reference person and study the practical possibility for inclusion of them in your application.

Where can I search AGROVOC online?

You may search and browse AGROVOC online at http://aims.fao.org/standards/agrovoc/functionalities/search.
Accessible in the menu of the AGROVOC section on AIMS under "Search".