Over 100 of the world’s poorest countries will now be able to access leading food and agriculture journals for little or no cost with the launch today of the second phase of a joint United Nations-private sector initiative to provide yet one more tool in the fight against poverty and under-development. The Global Online Research in Agriculture (AGORA) project responds to the needs of thousands of students, researchers and academics in poorer countries, who continue to face challenges in accessing up-to-date information which is vital to their work.AGORA was launched in 2003 by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 37 leading science publishers and other key partners including the UN World Health Organization (WHO) and Cornell University, providing access to 69 low-income countries. Under today’s expansion it will now include universities, colleges, research institutes and government ministries as well as non-governmental organizations in an additional 37 lower-middle-income countries.“We have seen from the first phase of this initiative that there is increasing demand for access to vital information by poorer countries,” FAO Library and Documentation Systems Division Director Anton Mangstl said. “In less than three years, AGORA has already helped bridge the knowledge gap by providing 850 institutions access to over 900 journals in the areas of agriculture and related subjects.” Under the second phase, 37 countries with a per capita GNP of between $1000 and $3000 will be eligible. Institutions wishing to register will have a three-month free trial period before they are asked to pay an annual subscription of $1000. FAO will invest all subscription income into local training initiatives to help increase awareness and usage of AGORA amongst librarians and scientists.“AGORA is making an important contribution to the achievement of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals by providing essential information to improve the livelihoods of those who need it most,” FAO said, referring to referring to the targets of slashing a host of ills, such as extreme hunger and poverty, high infant and maternal mortality and lack of access to education and health care, all by 2015.