30 years

CTA support for knowledge management

These are busy times for the CTA team, but exciting ones too. Keen to make more progress in helping ACP organisations to improve their knowledge management (KM), CTA is forging ahead with plans to make new resources available. It will shortly be launching a knowledge management portal on the CTA website. This will point to KM resources, including a web tool to carry out an analysis of knowledge management within organisations and networks. These have already been used by some ACP institutions to map how they are using KM and to what effect.

Another web-based instrument developed by CTA enables individuals to carry out self-assessment of their knowledge management capabilities and receive feedback on the results, with a set of resources to help the user improve skills. The KM Scan is due to be launched on the portal by September 2014.

Bheenick and his team, together with other CTA partners are involved in developing e-learning modules for the Information Management Resource Kit (IMARK), a suite of distance learning resources, tools and communities on information management aimed at individuals, institutions and networks worldwide. CTA's KM portal will also be signposting to the IMARK and other e-learning resources on KM outside CTA.

Another plan in hand involves setting up a Community of Practice on knowledge management for agriculture and rural development linked to CTA interventions. The Centre is also developing a curriculum for a short introductory course on knowledge management for agriculture and rural development institutions and one for senior management of ACP institutions. Both these face-to-face courses will be piloted in November this year and may subsequently be offered on-line.

Recent successes have included the development of a regional blog called ReGICA, which gives regular updates on new developments in agricultural and rural development in the Central and Western African regions. Together with the West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development (CORAF-WECARD), CTA provided training to 45 representatives of National Agricultural Research Systems of 21 West and Central African countries in 2013. The initiative involved sensitising participants to knowledge management and providing training in the use of ICTs as KM tools. As a result of the training, participants set up a virtual network, the 'Reseau pour la gestion de l'information, la communication et des connaissances agricoles' (ReGICA). CTA has also supported the CORAF-WECARD in setting up the blog, which was launched at the Science Week and General Assembly of the CORAF in June 2014.

In southern Africa, CTA is helping sub-regional research coordinator the Centre for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development for Southern Africa (CCARDESA) to develop a regional information and knowledge management system. In a separate initiative, CTA is working closely with the global CIARD programme and other partners to develop 'Good Practice' guidelines for different knowledge management products and services available to agricultural institutions for online collaboration.

"These include good practices for advocating the sharing of information, making information more available, exploring how to package information and how to address the needs of users," said Bheenick. "We have quite a busy schedule in the coming months, but knowledge management is an area where investing time and money really pays off. It holds the key to improving the quality and effectiveness of the information that farmers and other rural actors need so badly on the ground.”