Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Facilitating information and knowledge exchange in rice sector development

AfricaRice organized a 3-day workshop and training event on ‘Facilitating Information and Knowledge Exchange in Rice Sector Development’ in Cotonou, Benin on 25-27 June 2014. Thirteen African countries were represented by national experts on communication, ICT and knowledge management. These experts are working in ‘rice sector development hubs’. These hubs have been identified in 2012-2013 by AfricaRice member countries to ensure concentration of research efforts in strategic regions for rice sector development. This will facilitate connecting with public and private sector development initiatives, allowing for more rapid out-scaling of successful innovations and feedback to research. 

The objective of the workshop was to create a joint mechanism to i) share information and knowledge related to scalable rice technologies and activities in the Rice Sector Development Hubs in the most effective and efficient manner and, ii) to reach out to end-users of rice technologies and services, such as rice farmers, processors, agricultural machinery manufacturers, traders etc. 

Information and knowledge is most effectively shared through face-to-face interaction but large numbers of people will only benefit if this is combined using a multi-media platform using virtual access, video, radio and print.  

The Rice eHub (www.ricehub.org) established by AfricaRice is such a multi-media platform enabling countries involved to share ‘stories from the field’ in and around the Hubs and technical and institutional innovations that are making a positive difference in a systems and/or value chain context.  

The workshop enabled participants to discuss the use of video and rural radio to report on work with farming communities and to document scalable technologies taking into account local socio-economic settings. Rural radio will be used to accompany the rice community throughout the cropping season, advising on crop management practices and sharing experiences among value chain actors. 

Each country is expected to develop a ‘rice knowledge management package’ (combinations of video, rural radio, use of the Rice eHub, printed material, billboards etc.) that best fits their resources and priorities. Based on these country action plans, partners such as Farm Radio International and Digital Green will provide technical support to ensure the selected tools facilitate information and knowledge exchange with large numbers of end-users. 

The event was organized with support from the CGIAR Research Program on Rice, known as the Global Rice Science Partnership (GRiSP) and the African Development Bank’s project called SARD-SC.