Creating the Turkish AGROVOC version

The AGROVOC team invited Yasemin Çevik, an agricultural engineer who has been working since 1999 for the Turkish National AGRIS Center, located within the Publication Department of the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock, to talk about the preparation of the Turkish AGROVOC version. The Turkish Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock has been carrying out AGRIS activities since 1986. 

Yasemin, when did the collaboration with AGROVOC start and what were the main reasons?

The Project for Turkish AGROVOC was initiated in 2008, because no agricultural thesaurus for indexing existed in Turkish. Our Project was carried out by voluntary people, producing a Turkish AGROVOC version, with the goal of contributing to the increase, facilitation and improvement of information access in agriculture.As a Turkish AGRIS Center, we started to work on the Turkish AGROVOC version in cooperation with the FAO/AIMS team. Before we started, thesauri related standards (ISO 25964) were taken into consideration. Vocabulary preparation techniques and studies related to its publication, dictionary of terms and terminology studies were collected.

Please highlight some of the areas you have worked on in AGROVOC

We took the English version of AGROVOC as an example. We also created a team composed of 17 people including a translator, language experts and other experts working in various areas of agriculture and forestry. I organized a meeting for field experts, and language experts introducing the structure, scope and terms of AGROVOC. I also prepared a manual for the team.  I provided them with spelling dictionaries and electronic documents. I've created a Google group to discuss the concepts and agricultural terms. A friend from the team and I attended a course related to term expertise.  

With the assistance of the AGROVOC team at FAO, we analyzed and classified the English terms of various areas in the database. We also made the experts of relevant areas responsible for the terms. Team members started to find correspondence to these terms. The translator and language experts, on the other hand, provided them with their assistance. We often organized face to face meetings for sharing the struggles, experiences and views, in order to overcome the problems. We collected the term lists from field experts periodically. In order to minimize duplications, errors and mistakes, we created a database and analyzed the terms in Excel lists in a controlled way. At the end of 2011, we created a database and sent it to the AGROVOC team. This database was integrated into VocBench in 2012. I provided the members with VocBench related documents and made a presentation thereof. I also informed them of the working principle of it. I informed them that although our Project had not been completed yet, they could login on VocBench whenever they wanted and could contribute to the enrichment and improvement of Turkish AGROVOC. The work that followed used VocBench as the editing platform.  

What are you planning to work on in the near future?

I plan on continuing to enrich and develop the Turkish AGROVOC. During our studies, we realized that AGROVOC involves few taxonomic and common names related to Turkish fauna and flora: I am planning to add these terms to AGROVOC  in the near future. I am also constantly examining the CAB and NAL thesaurus.

What are, in your view, the strengths and weaknesses of AGROVOC?

I think AGROVOC is an important resource due to its multilingualism. AGROVOC presently is used as an indexing tool in many countries.  Vocbench is a very convenient tool  for managing  and maintening  AGROVOC. I think these are strong features of AGROVOC. However, there are aspects where AGROVOC is weak. For example, there are discontinuities with other agricultural thesauri used in the world. For example, NAL thesaurus includes many agricultural terms that are not present in AGROVOC. I think, NAL and CAB and AGROVOC should contain agricultural terms in a similar way developing science and technology, the emergence of new terms should be transferred into AGROVOC.