26-29 April 2010, Montpellier, France
Scientific and Technical Information and Rural Development
Information scientifique et technique et développement rural
Highlights of Innovative Practices / Eclairages sur des pratiques innovantes
|iaald2010 web site
Theme 3 : Communication and information exchange between actors/ Communication et partage d'informations entre acteurs
Chair : Michel MENOU
Incorporating use of a mixed-media information tool into the work of actors involved in the development of livestock production in Tanzania; dissemination, user training, monitoring and evaluation, and impact.
1CABI Africa, ICRAF Complex, United Nations Avenue, Gigiri, PO Box 633-00621, Nairobi, Kenya; 2CABI Head Office, Nosworthy Way, Wallingford, Oxfordshire, OX10 8DE, United Kingdom; 3COSTECH, P.O. Box 4302, Ali Hassan Mwinyi Road, Kijitonyama (Sayansi ) COSTECH Building, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Documentation for building and sharing agroecological knowledge
1ILEIA, Centre for Learning on Sustainable Agriculture, Amersfoort, the Netherlands; 2AS-PTA, Agricultura Familiar e Agroecologia, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
For 25 years, the work of ILEIA and its partners has been shaped by the idea that millions of small-scale farmers, together with all those who work with them, experiment and innovate in their daily work, helping increase their technical and economic autonomy, and raising productivity and incomes in an ecologically sound way. With our quarterly publication, our main objective is to make these innovations visible, as examples of an alternative model of development. Sharing knowledge also points at the development of social networks based on shared identities, aiming at unity amid diversity. This paper looks at the results achieved in terms of information exchange and knowledge building, at the challenges we’ve met, and also at those which still lie ahead.
A major difficulty we regularly face is the lack of written material. Virtually everywhere, field visits show that farmers and practitioners regularly innovate, and thus actively contribute to the “body of knowledge” on sustainable agriculture. But these processes are often not written down, limiting the possibilities for dissemination and wider use. As an answer to this, we started a documentation programme, with which, by focusing on a detailed description and a thorough analysis, we want to help “unearth” a greater number of experiences, contribute to their analysis and wider dissemination, and in this way contribute to the field-based generation of knowledge on sustainable agriculture. Running this programme also helped us identify additional challenges and aspects that need further elaboration: field visits regularly reveal that the tackiest problems small-scale farmers face are not always technical or economic, but are also institutional: land tenure issues, access to water or pollution, and the like. Thus, besides “field-based innovations”, we also aim to come to grips with the way “institutional innovations” take place and help exchange knowledge and information among key stakeholders.
Strengthening the capacity of National Agricultural Research Systems to sustainably manage banana Xanthomonas wilt in East and Central Africa
1Bioversity International, Uganda; 2Bioversity International, France ;
Since 2001 banana Xanthomonas wilt (BXW) has seriously threatened east and central African food and income security, with entire crop holdings being wiped out in some areas. In response, Bioversity International, funded by USAID through the Catholic Relief Services, coordinated regional partners to develop a novel communications strategy to raise awareness of stakeholders along banana value chains and equipping them with the knowledge and skills to manage the disease and arrest its spread.
Bioversity engaged farmers, farmer organizations, extension-workers, local councils, NGOs, community-based organizations, universities, NARIs and the private sector to develop, test and disseminate the tools for disease control and employed an innovative onion-peel approach to deliver appropriate messages that addressed the needs of stakeholders. Communication materials included brochures; leaflets; billboards; clothing-slogans; radio talk-shows; drama; training workshops; CDs, and posters and videos as well as a bilingual website (http://platforms.inibap.org/xanthomonaswilt/).
The campaign adapted Participatory Development Communication, including “going public” strategies from NARO-Uganda, and ABCC (from HIV-AIDS campaigns) to advance the strategy in the six countries. The project facilitated sharing information via seminars, workshops, radio and television talk-shows and stakeholder exchange visits, designed for the different contexts and needs.
Project activities were evaluated on 96 randomly but representatively selected farm-holdings that had been exposed to BXW sensitization across the 6 countries. Competencies doubled; those applying the recommendations significantly reduced disease incidence; and the rate of reported disease outbreaks went down by 20-40%. An estimated 51,000 farmers in all were reached with control messages.
Stakeholders identified the need for more farmer-friendly methods for sterilizing tools and for kits for the detection of latent infection to arrest long distance transmission. Other significant outcomes included bye-laws, local and national Action Plans for wilt control campaigns; partial disease eradication, and national budgeting for wilt control by some countries.
The management of indigenous knowledge with other knowledge systems for agricultural development: Challenges and opportunities for developing countries
1Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania; 2University of South Africa, South Africa; 3University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Over the years, farmers predominantly in developing countries have planned agricultural production by using their indigenous knowledge (IK). However, farmers lack opportunities to share their IK, and are also deprived of access to global knowledge on agriculture. Nevertheless, information and communications technologies (ICTs) present a window of opportunities for farmers to access some external knowledge and manage their own knowledge. Despite their potential role for knowledge management, ICTs can also present challenges to farmers when managing their knowledge. This paper seeks to establish the challenges and opportunities for managing agricultural IK and access to external knowledge both physically and through ICTs in the rural areas of developing countries, with a specific focus on Tanzania. This paper presents preliminary findings from a mixed method research project, where a qualitative approach was used as a dominant approach. Six regions from six zones out of seven research zones were selected for the study due to their high agriculture production and the presence of ICTs such as telecenters, community radio, and cellular phone networks. Participant observation, semi-structured interviews, focus groups, and participatory rural appraisal were used to collect primary data from farmers in the selected regions. A total of 181 smallholder farmers participated in the semi-structured interviews, where the respondents ranged between 27 and 37 per region. Twelve focus group discussions were conducted in the selected regions. The findings indicated that farmers faced various challenges which inhibited them in managing their agricultural IK, and accessing external knowledge both physically and through ICTs. These barriers ranged from the personal, social, resources, skills, and technological to the external environment such as infrastructure, policy, Intellectual Property Rights, and weak linkages between research, extension and farmers. Various opportunities and recommendations are given for enhancing the management of IK together with external knowledge for agricultural development in Tanzania.
Collaborative research support in forestry
Oxford University Library Services, United Kingdom;
The volume of published literature now available electronically, coupled with rapidly increasing raw data in multiple formats, potentially offers vastly increased resources to researchers worldwide. However, realization of this potential is hampered by funding shortages, inadequate metadata, incompatible carrier formats, lack of multilingual access, bandwidth problems and many others. Access to electronic services in many locations is intermittent or impossible, and the case for retaining ‘traditional’ print-based library services is increasingly recognised. Local collections are however often seriously inadequate and under-resourced.
Two initiatives are aiming to improve matters in the forestry sector. The creation of a global network and forum for forestry librarians, for professional networking but also practical joint problem-solving, aims to link existing local and regional networks, sharing resources and expertise and developing wider awareness of existing sources. Following its success in the medical, social science and environmental fields, the introduction of evidence-based techniques in support of forestry research is now being pursued. This process, using systematic reviews to establish agreed, replicable distillations of the best global knowledge to provide reliable answers to specific questions, would be built upon international networks of subject specialists, supported by a central library making the reviews freely available to all. Libraries would underpin this structure, providing the literature base for reviewers and identifying specialists within their institutions.
These initiatives will support each other, ensuring that existing print resources, including grey and unpublished reports and data collections, continue to be properly considered in research projects alongside those which only exist in electronic formats, and help identify those items in either format for which long-term access remains essential.
Generating information through multi-stakeholder participatory approach for local planning development in Oyo-State, Nigeria
This article focus on the information generated through MSP Approach and its effect on local planning
development. The theoretical implication of MSP were explored while the information channel used
for Fadama programme were critically examined. The qualitative data collected showed that mass
media channel and group contact method were used to generate information on Fadama activities. The
farmers were taken through MSP of divergence, emergence and convergence. It was discovered that
the farmers were able to discover realities about what is going on around them, discover their common
strategic intention about what they need to do and also to take collaborative action towards the
implementation of their intention. The communication process used through group approach sensitized
and strenghtened the existing bond of relationship in the community towards effective local planning
of development. This would further enhance sustainable rural development because of the MSP
Experience with building a Rural and Agriculture Development Communication Network
Computer Science and Engineering Department, American University in Cairo, Egypt
The goal of this paper is to report on our experience in building a Rural and Agriculture Development Communication Network (RADCON) to improve the communication among extension, research, private and public sectors and institutions involved in rural and agricultural development for the benefit of farmers and agrarian businesses at rural and village level. This network was implemented by a project funded by the Italian/ Egyptian Debt Swap programme and executed by Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Central Laboratory for Agricultural Expert Systems( CLAES) as the counterpart agency responsible for project implementation. The three direct objectives as described in the project document were:
1. Develop sustainable operational dynamic information and communication system that responds to the stakeholders’ requirements including resource poor communities.
2. Identify and enable fifty resource poor communities to participate in the RADCON activities and benefit of its knowledge and information resources
3. Develop an innovative media communication programme to increase the benefit of RADCON.
The project started in April 2004, and terminated on March 31, 2008. In this paper we are going to assess the objective achievements and what needs to be done for making full use of this leading project.
Think before you plant, think before you print: Building adaptive capacity within the Lao Agriculture Knowledge Information System
1National Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute, Laos; 2National Agriculture and Forestry Extension Service, Laos
Laos is quickly making the transition from a “closed society” to an ‘open society’. This is being spurred by regional interest to invest in the country and by the Government that is promoting the country as the ‘garden and battery of Asia’. In this situation, access to information is increasingly important for different stakeholders to make informed decisions. The answers are not necessarily of a technical nature, but centred around knowledge and power. Knowledge and information are important inputs to ensure that farmers can cope with changes. As farmers are being exposed to the ups and downs of industrial cash-cropping (i.e. unstable markets and increasing dependency on external inputs), there is a need to provide farmers with a range of options and information so they can make informed choices. The National Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute and the National Agriculture and Forestry Extension Service have formed an alliance (the Agriculture Information Management Working Group – AIM) to improve farmers’ and extension agents’ access to information. This paper explores the strategic communication process to develop extension related materials for farmers and extension agents on rubber planting. Rather than focusing on technical messages, the campaign was build around the simple concept of providing information to farmers to make their own decisions (i.e. ‘think before you plant’). The main message of this paper is that communication processes need to contextualize, rather than seeing them as template or standards. In addition, there is a need to move beyond the provision of only technical and production related information to farmers, by offering information which strengthens the adaptive capacity of farmers to cope with the rapid changes that are taking place.
Achievements and perspectives of innovation platforms on bananas and plantains in West and Central Africa
1Centre Africain de Recherches sur Bananiers et Plantains, Cameroon; 2CERIC, Université Montpellier 3, France; 3CENAREST/IRA, Gabon; 4IRAG, Guinée; 5INRAB, Bénin; 6ICRA, Institut Centrafricain de Recherche Agricole, Bangui, Central African Republic; 7DGRST, Direction Générale à la Recherche Scientifique et Technique, PN, Congo
Innovation platforms optimise dialogue and the continuous learning process among and between actors and easily lead to multiple effects; actors have equal learning and teaching opportunities and their needs are easily incorporated in the process of production and diffusion of innovations, which leads to better adoption. The first banana innovation platforms in West and Central Africa (WCA) created in the framework of the ‘plantain varietal innovation’ project (INNOBAP, 2005-2008) covered four countries in the region: Gabon, Guinea, Benin and Cameroon. About eight categories of actors for a total of 164 associates were involved. The following learning mechanisms helped actors to share their experiences, adjust their skills and activities according to new needs, test and adopt many plantain varieties according to their own preferences and observations, while having the opportunity to modify their choices by learning from others’ experiences: multilocational experimental plots, individual experimental plots; common reference plots, Club of local experts and users, electronic exchanges, evaluation meetings, learning/training workshops. An information specialist played a key role by publishing a newsletter, creating and managing e-resources and publishing various reports. About 33 plantain varieties (10/platform) were adopted. The users’ preferences were recorded and will help CARBAP revise its genetic and breeding strategy. The experiences acquired so far will guide through the management of the three new innovation platforms recently created in the framework of the regional project «Multistakeholders platform to developed and disseminate innovations for sustainable improvement of the banana and plantain sectors in Central Africa (2009-2012)». The decision recently taken by key actors of the sector to shift from the network approach to that of innovation platform thus replacing the banana research network (-MUSA-CO) with the ''plantain innovation platform for West and Central Africa” constitutes a better perspective for ensuring sustainable development of the plantain sub-sector in WCA
Rural information and communication systems: lessons learned through linking research to extension
Too often, the emphasis in technology-based rural information and communication systems is placed on the technology itself rather than the human dimension. Yet, if people do not use an information system and provide content, it has no value. Technology alone cannot be a panacea, and rural communication and information systems are doomed to failure unless there is active information management and knowledge exchange, with appropriate support for communication. The human component and the technological components need to be combined appropriately. Very often, the human element is the more complex aspect of any initiative, which is vital because a system will only add value if it adequately addresses the needs of the people that use it in ways that they find convenient. On the other hand, digital technologies provide potential for innovative approaches that make production, storage, and exchange of information easier, faster, and more accessible to geographically dispersed populations.
In the last ten years, FAO has supported interventions at national level in seven countries spread across four regions (Africa, Asia, Middle East and Latin America) related to rural information and communication based on new information and communication technologies (ICTs). Conceptual models, methodologies and tools have been developed for strengthening linkages among rural institutions and individuals using Internet-based ICTs, such as the Virtual Extension and Research Communication Network (VERCON). Such interventions involve different types of stakeholder: agricultural research and extension, small-farmer or non-governmental organizations, private or public agricultural service suppliers or the media, such as rural radio. The aim is to harness new ICTs in combination with traditional communication channels to enable these rural stakeholders to be better informed, to manage information and also to share their knowledge, complementing, enriching and reinforcing existing pathways with new ICTs.
VERCON website and guidelines have been developed for partners interested in building such systems.
Smallholder farmers manage funds for experimentation and innovation
1Prolinnova, Netherlands, The; 2Cirad, France
There is now increasing understanding that agricultural development does not follow a linear process with new knowledge coming primarily from formal research and reaching landusers through extension services. An innovation-systems perspective on development reveals that actual change processes are much more complex. Landusers are not merely recipients of new knowledge but also potential sources and/or partners in its generation. Local experimentation, adaptation and ingenuity are vital for finding locally effective practices. This recognition has led to approaches to agricultural research and development (ARD) that are designed to enhance systems of local learning and innovation by multiple actors through “Participatory Innovation Development” (PID). Many of the current ARD funding mechanisms are intended to encourage participatory research and extension, but few give attention to stimulating and supporting local innovation and PID. Partners in PROLINNOVA, an international multistakeholder programme, believe that a fundamental change in mechanisms for allocating research funding is required if small-scale farmers, their concerns and their own innovation capacities are to play a more central role in ARD. If such change could be achieved, it would help create a longer-term institutional basis for PID. Partners faced the question: could alternative, farmer-led funding mechanisms for PID be developed that are cost-effective and sustainable? PROLINNOVA therefore initiated systematic action research to find practical ways to set up mechanisms that allow local landusers to access “Local Innovation Support Funds” (LISFs) for accelerating their innovative activities. Activities include stakeholder design workshops, capacity building for local institutions, monitoring and evaluation, and impact assessment. With a view to information sharing, farmer innovation fairs and exchange visits have been organised; and experimentation by individuals and groups facilitated. The paper summarises the experiences made and lessons learnt with this innovative funding mechanism designed to give farmers a greater say in how public funds for ARD are used.
Agropolis International publication - ISBN 978-2-909613-03-1
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