MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE EXTENDING REACH VIA WORLDWIDE WEB

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The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is seeking to ensure that it better meets the needs of its various publics through the click of a mouse.

According to Agricultural Officer, Mark Byer, the Ministry is working assiduously to improve their website and by extension extend the ministry’s outreach programme and presence via the internet.

“It (the website) is a great means of communicating with people throughout Barbados and worldwide. We have been getting quite alot of hits; we have been putting the information there and persons have been coming in and accessing it,” he explained.

With the hurricane season around the corner, Mr. Byer said a large number of persons had been showing an interest in the Meteorological Services’ web page, and numerous queries had been forthcoming through the website’s question and answer link, especially in relation to veterinary services and the importation of meat.

“This kind of communication makes it easier for our clients and provides an added service from the Ministry. It is also a lot faster”, he added.

Stressing that there was a lot more potential in the utilisation of the internet, the officer in charge of Agricultural Information Services (AIS) said the Ministry was seeking to extend the scope of its presence through the development of graphics and more visual presentations.

“People are seeing more and reading less,” he opined.

In  an effort  to “put the tools in the hands of interested officers”, Mr. Byer said the Ministry would be facilitating two half-day training workshops for approximately 25 members of staff, the first of which will take place  this Wednesday,  May 28, and  the other on  Thursday, June 12, at the Harbour Industrial Park.

“We will be bringing people out from their work to spend time. There are no dedicated website officers, but where people show an interest we are training them,” he explained, adding that improvements would be based largely on the time which officers had available outside of their regular duties to dedicate to their departments’ web pages.

Participants will be trained in four main areas: content improvement; the use of graphics programs; the use of Microsoft Movie Maker and the efficient usage of the ‘Help Desk’ function on the website to allow for the provision of timely answers to clients’ queries.

Noting that training had been ongoing since the website’s launch in 2003 – 2004, Mr. Byer stressed that the Ministry would be continuing this training drive, with the assistance of Future Shock Inc., a private sector partnering agency, to ensure that the Ministry remained on the cutting edge in terms of technological development.

The Ministry’s website is http://agriculture.gov.bb and the site contains links to 17 departments and one partner agency. It also includes information about the Ministry; a site map; a question and answer service and agricultural related links.

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