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Making knowledge management a useful tool for farmers

February 10, 2016

In recent years, knowledge management or KM, has been widely recognised by organisations as a key resource with immense potential for improved decision-making and performance. The effective management of knowledge has been described as a critical ingredient for organisations seeking to ensure sustainable strategic competitive advantage.

In African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, CTA has a long tradition of supporting agricultural and rural development institutions to effectively facilitate their knowledge applications and processes.

Explaining CTA’s KM work

CTA supported KM work will be presented at the annual meeting of the farmers organisations involved in the EC-funded Support to Farmers’ Organizations in Africa Programme (SFOAP), just before the sixth global meeting of the Farmers’ Forum, 15–16 February 2016 in Rome. The Farmers’ Forum was established in 2005 by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to stimulate dialogue among smallholder farmers’ and rural producers’ organisations from all over the world.

Working with the Pan-African Farmers’ Organisation

Since 2012, CTA has been working with the Pan-African Farmers' Organisation (PAFO) in developing the use of KM.

PAFO was formally created in October 2010 in Malawi, by five regional farmers' organisations from across the African continent: the East Africa Farmers' Federation (EAFF), the Plateforme Regionale Des Organisations Paysannes D'Afrique Centrale (PROPAC), the Réseau des organisations paysannes et de producteurs de l'Afrique de l'Ouest (ROPPA), the Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions (SACAU), and the Union Maghrébine et de l'Afrique du Nord des Agriculteurs (UMNAGRI).

The aim of PAFO is to support discussion and exchange of information among its members, by strengthening the website, developing a discussion forum to stimulate information sharing, and training farmers in KM techniques.

"It is important to reinforce KM at the level of the regional organizations that make up PAFO, as their activity feeds into the PAFO platform," said Mahamadou Ouedraogo, former communications officer at ROPPA.

Electronic discussions

Electronic discussions held on the PAFO website helped formulate policy on several broad themes like land acquisition, links between climate change and agriculture, and rural youth in agriculture. These were presented during the 1st PAFO Continental Briefing in Yaoundé, Cameroun in 2013 at a half-day session about the main achievements and challenges for farmers' organisations in KM.

KM and communications staff from the different regional farmers' organisations played a key role at the briefing. "The support CTA provides to these knowledge and communication people may be small but it is as important as what they do with people outside farmers' organisations. And their leadership understands the importance of that," said Isolina Boto, the manager of the CTA office in Brussels.

Inline 1st PAFO

Following this first positive experience, a second e-discussion programme was started in June 2014 to nurture the debate on 'Revolutionising Finance for Agri-value Chains', in preparation for the 2nd PAFO Continental Briefing in July 2014. Topics raised by the PAFO members ranged from the main challenges and opportunities for regional farmers' organisations in accessing financial services, to what actions farmers could take to build their knowledge and organise their local information to improve business decisions and awareness on trade opportunities. PAFO KM managers were given the opportunity to present their work during a panel on KM and the main findings were presented to the conference.

As part of the development of PAFO's knowledge platform the regional farmers' organisations were supported in developing their websites. ROPPA won the award for best non-governmental organisation website in Burkina Faso for their new website.roppa inline

Growth in social media

Another impact that CTA support has had in the region is increasing the use of social media. PROPAC not only has a new web platform but also several new social media sites: Twitter, Facebook, Google +, YouTube and SlideShare. These were developed after CTA training on the Web2forDev initiative.  

Most recently, in association with the 3rd PAFO Continental Briefing, the PAFO KM team were at the forefront of the Twitter campaign #IncludeAgriCOP21, launched to demand the inclusion of agriculture in the text of the final agreement that came out of COP21.  

KM is proving to be a valuable tool to help farmers’ organisations defend their interests. CTA, in one of its strategic goals, will be intensifying its support to KM to as many regional organisations as possible in the future. 

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