Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Expert consultation on the future of Agricultural Knowledge Resource Centres in ACP regions

17-19 November 2014, Wageningen, The Netherlands. The consultation brought together representatives involved in implementation of global initiatives, those involved in implementation of regional systems as well as technology experts to better address common themes, processes and projects. It followed another CTA expert meeting on ICT technologies. (29 to 31 October 2014 in Rhenen, The Netherlands.)

Over the past couple of years, a number of global initiatives has evolved and present opportunities for convergence and complementarity that need to be explored. Such initiatives are CIARD, GODAN, TAP and IMARK – which cover the range of information and knowledge management i.e. capacity strengthening, generation, classification, storage, packaging, exchange and use.

Meanwhile regional organisations in ACP have also established new strategic plans that re-inforce the engagement of beneficiaries in regional strategies and value chains development, and which address information and knowledge management in a complementary manner (e.g. FARA, CORAF/WECARD, ASARECA, CCARDESA, NEPAD/CAADP, SPC, GFRAS andnetworks, PAFO and networks, IICA and IntraACP progamme).

The participants at the Expert consultation shared some initiatives at global level as well as at regional level to find the appropriate linkages. They discussed in succesive inter-active sessions:
  1. What is the current status? Identify the strengths acquired (knowledge assets, processes, approaches, technology applications); Identify the challenges in making the knowledge available and accessible in a more (Day 1)
  2. What needs to be done? Identify the traditional proposals; Thinking out of the box to apply new technologies (Day 1)
  3. Who is already involved in implementation? Identify good practices & synergies; Identify areas of influence, for improvement in an innovative model; How do we experiment and learn? (Day 2) 
  4. How can we innovate? Consider social innovation; Technological innovation; Possible/realistic paradigm shift (Day 2) 
  5. How do we get started? Discuss proposals and devise a concept note; identify areas for collaborative action; identify Key Performance Indicators and impact pathways; Establish working groups for follow up.(Day 3)
Some statements
We need to adapt knowledge and information to different types of value chains: global value chains (in which other countries and regions are involved and depend from each other): in this you need something beyond a local Knowledge Resource Centers; local value chains can be targeted by KRCs (stakeholders; the State, the industry, the local communities) Pascal Bonnet - CIRAD

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) - Regional Office for Africa, in collaboration with the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) and the International Association of Agricultural Information Specialists (IAALD Africa Chapter), conducted a survey of agricultural information centres, libraries and documentation centre in sub-Saharan Africa.
Only 10% of the NARO' s collect what they produce. Only in times of promotion researchers compile their publications. Justin Chisenga - FAO
The goal of the survey was to establish the state of agricultural information centres, libraries and documentation centres in sub-Saharan Africa. This proved useful to design capacity development and technical support initiatives to enhance access, dissemination and exchange of agricultural information and knowledge in sub-Saharan Africa.
Knowledge is increasingly online and digital, making connectivity essential; and offline explicit knowledge invisible. Getting their own hidden knowledge online and visible is a number one task for institutional KRCs. It also makes sure that knowledge seekers are more likely to find more of what they want. Extension, educational and practical (non-scientific) information as well as content in smaller languages is especially missing. Physical ‘reading’ and ‘storage’ spaces are becoming redundant in many institutions; these spaces can be re-purposed to support other forms of communication and interaction. Peter Balyntine - ILRI
Highlight 1:
Classroom Without Walls
A large number of learners and teachers in the developing world operate in "unconnected" environments – unconnected to the power grid and to the Internet. There needs to be a different approach to extend them support.

COL’s idea of a "classroom without walls" can make a contribution. We can
imagine a situation where a learner in a typically unconnected environment can access a lesson in a Learning Management System (LMS), and complete an assignment, with her/his credentials intact and available to the teacher. Learners can also participate in a socializing process through visiting and commenting on a blog related to the learning materials and courses.

Testing commercial products available and at a cost of USD100.00, COL has provided a prototype which includes technical information to assist in assembling this environment, which will enable a teacher to run a classroom without those ubiquitous walls. more...

Highlight 2:
Access Agriculture shares practical training videos in international and local languages.


Related (1): ICT’s in Value Chains

Related (2): ICT’s 4 advisory services

Inventory of Innovative Farmer Advisory Services using Information Communications Technologies.
Mucemi Gakuru, Kristen Winters and François Stepman
FARA, 2009, 65 pages

This inventory was an attempt to document all known innovative farmer advisory services or systems, currently in design, in existence or recently completed in Africa. Entries included projects using Information Communications Technology (ICT) solutions or implementing ICT-based activities, institutions/groups providing services using ICTs as well as ICT solutions software providers, both at the national and regional level. While many of the entries are projects with a definitive beginning and end date providing one or two services, others are national or regional information systems providing many agricultural services using ICTs.

Throughout Africa, ICTs have become increasingly integrated into the dissemination of information to farmers. For decades more “traditional” forms of ICTs have become more prevalent in advisory service provision. Radio and TV programmes feature agricultural information. Rural telecentres provide information on education, agricultural and health issues and equip rural citizens with skills on how to use computers and basic literacy. National ministries of agriculture have attempted to integrate ICTs into the delivery of information and have established district information centres providing agricultural information. Many NGOs and research organizations have also attempted to facilitate technology transfer in the agricultural sector.

This inventory, however, is limited to documenting innovative farmer information services. It is focused on projects/services that provide agricultural training and information to farmers directly, through the use of ICTs, rather than documenting services that facilitate exchange of information among researchers and policymakers. It also does not include the many research initiatives that exist to study the possible application of ICTs to agriculture or organizations or projects that focus on the development of linkages with input agencies, credit organizations and markets through the use of ICTs.

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