While there is an increasing tendency to suggest that farmers of the future will access their information through mobile devices and carry out transactions using these technologies, the reality on the ground is that agricultural information continues to be accessed through a range of communication channels and formats. Agricultural information in printed form is still popular in ACP regions and will remain important in the transfer of information, although a dynamic environment now requires more interactive exchange of information.
To be effectively used, agricultural information has to be as relevant as possible to the local context, so that it can be efficiently incorporated into the local knowledge base and support flexible decision-making at farm level. Therefore, information intermediaries or 'infomediaries' who repackage information from various sources into locally applicable information products and services play an important role in enriching knowledge at the local level.
The role of infomediaries can also work in another way. They can help to capture, classify and share indigenous local knowledge. In fact, technologies enable information to be shared at all levels simultaneously. Thus family farmers will be able to learn from their peers locally and just as easily from family farmers located in other parts the world.
CTA is working with information management specialists to identify information resources so that they can be found more easily and combined. Furthermore, CTA will continue helping small-scale women entrepreneurs in the Caribbean and Pacific regions to share information about their products.
Agricultural information from different countries and agroecological and political regions, can be combined when existing standards of information management are adopted, enabling information systems to interconnect. As technology continues to evolve, opportunities are being created that make it possible to link with movements that promote open access to information and data as well as new methods and technologies to explore data.
Examples include Open Access, Linked Open Data and Big Data, the latter providing new insights into ways in which decisions are made. All these initiatives will lead to open agricultural knowledge, a concept promoted by the global CIARD movement, which aims to strengthen information exchange between research, extension, education and farmers' organisations for the benefit of farming communities.
CTA's efforts in the field of knowledge management for agricultural and rural development will build upon its experience in information and communications management, monitoring and evaluation, social learning and innovation.
It will use these experiences to support sound knowledge management practices among the ACP institutions that support family farming. Building the capacity of ACP institutions will take the form of online and face-to-face training, regional workshops to share documented experiences as well as support for the practical implementation of knowledge management practices that can serve as models for others. Guidelines that can facilitate the implementation of good knowledge management practices will also be produced.
CTA and its partners will continue to monitor the evolution of communication technologies in ACP regions and adapt to emerging trends in the kinds of tools used for information exchange.