CTA is currently conducting an evaluation of two of its programmes: the Selective Dissemination of Information (SDI) service for ACP researchers, and the Question-and-Answer (QAS) service. The idea is to find ways of adapting or developing these services at a time of great change in information systems.

When we asked ACP researchers to re- apply to the SDI service, we noticed that only a third of all beneficiaries renewed their subscription. Is this due to problems of communication and Internet connection? Do researchers have access to more precise and detailed information from some other source? Do they prefer other databases? If necessary, this evaluation should enable us to review our approach to the information we provide researchers, albeit within the main guidelines of our new Strategic Plan.

The evaluation of the Question-and-Answer service has a two-pronged objective: it seeks to understand the long-term impact and effectiveness, while at the same time gauging the potential for other experimental approaches which could supplement the services provided by the various QAS agencies in rural settings. It will also involve examining case studies in Cameroon, Ghana, South Africa and Uganda. These are all countries where the QAS has evolved in a different format – there is a voucher system for producers and farmers in Uganda, contact with experts is made available via GSM in Cameroon, via radio programmes in Ghana and through information bulletins in South Africa. The aim is not just to assess the performances of these services, but also to have a clearer idea of the most effective methods.

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