Using knowledge to power agricultural innovation in Africa

Access to knowledge enhances the adoption of best practices by farmers to improve crop yield.

Access to knowledge enhances the adoption of best practices by farmers to improve crop yield.

Knowledge is the bedrock of information and a driving force in today’s world. The field of agriculture has a lot of information that can be harnessed to improve food security in Africa. However, some questions come to mind: Are we aware of the availability of such information? Who has acces to it? What information is the most important?

These quesitons make knowledge management a crucial consideration if the issue of food security is to be improved in Africa. CIARD has as platform — RING – that serves as a global registry of web-based services, providing access to all kinds of information sources pertaining to agricultural research for development (AR4D).

The platform can not, of course, work in isolation–it requires forming partnership with local organisations. FARA has two projects that are working on the ground, making sure agricultural knowledge (best practices, etc.) is being used efficiently to improve productivity. These are the DONATA and RAILS projects. They are also good examples of how regular interaction between stakeholders can build strong communities of practice.

A good example of DONATA’s impact on food security comes from The Gambia, where in a space of two farming seasons maize yields increased from 1.5 tonnes to 3 tonnes.

The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) employs a number of strategies to improve information communication (and knowledge) management in Africa, such as:

  • The improvement of interaction amongst stakeholders.
  • The application of recent trends such as Web 2.0 technologies, social media, mobile applications, open data, and e-agriculture.
  • The development of a 300-page Smart Toolkit to improve monitoring and evaluation in information communication.

Although these steps are laudable, there remains the need to really bring on board regional and sub-regional organisations. The motto of CIARD evidently says it best: “Think Global, Act Local.”

Blog post by Dominic Kornu, a social media reporter for AASW6.

Photo: P. Casier (CGIAR)

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