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Knowledge management to support ICT-enabled climate information services

September 15, 2016

As the need for innovative climate smart agriculture solutions become imperative, the demand for effective and efficient climate information services emerges as one of the key issues to ensure food and nutrition security.

To a larger extent, the whole process of providing extension and advisory services requires an approach that recognises the limitations posed by a chosen approach, the potential for re-alignment, and integration of game changing technologies and mechanisms. This should transform the process into an innovative and sustainable model that creates a win-win situation for all stakeholders in the up scaling of climate smart agricultural solutions for cereals and livestock farmers.

The generation and dissemination of effective climate information requires a comprehensive, integrated and sustainable knowledge management approach, which spans across the value chain. At the 'Scaling-Up Climate-Smart Agricultural Solutions' regional workshop some key issues have been reiterated. It is evident that there exist some challenges as well as vast opportunities that should be explored.

Quality of information

The quality of information being captured and or disseminated has to be validated, consistent and meet standards that will ensure farmers are informed to make resilient decisions that will improve their production. Furthermore, the information disseminated should be accompanied by guidance to help the farmers make decisions. This calls for a well-strategized knowledge management process.

Awareness and education

Farmers need to be aware of and be educated on various interventions. It is important to note that lessons should be drawn from farmers as well. They possess useful knowledge that can be used to further improve the formulation of solutions to help them. Education and awareness interventions meant for farmers should also be tailored to ensure that they find it easy to understand and apply.

Taking advantage of ICT

Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) have proven to be efficient tools in agricultural extension and advisory services. The diversity of channels to suit farmers of different literacy levels, geographical locations and income levels makes it an even more effective. However, it has been noted that the use of ICT in most cases is costly, which leads to ineffectiveness, and collapse of some initiatives. However, participants at the workshop suggested that sustainable models are required.

Learning from failures and success of already implemented projects indicate that farmer organisations need to create a sense of ownership and help farmers understand the model and repackage services in a way that will improve trust and usefulness. They should be aware of the sustainability aspect and as a result, encourage a user-pay approach, as well as leverage public private partnerships, among other issues.

Applying knowledge management in agricultural extension

While the growing penetration of mobile telephone networks and gadget ownership are recognised, it has also been noted that ICT infrastructure needs to be improved. The successful collaboration between mobile network operators and extension services providers is cardinal to provision of ICT enabled climate smart agricultural solutions.

ICT-enabled extension and advisory services requires that some of the knowledge management for agricultural research and development be automated. It is eminent that the role of extension in technology adoption is clearly mapped and understood. More so, the effective, efficient, and sustainable ways in which knowledge management can be integrated in innovative extension methods to support adoption and up scaling of climate-smart solutions should be explored and validated.

Blog post by Simon Wandila, Social Reporter for the Regional planning meeting on 'Scaling-Up Climate-Smart Agricultural Solutions for Cereals and Livestock Farmers in Southern Africa'.

Ms Hlamalani Ngwenya, an ICT specialist participating in the CTA workshop on scaling up climate-resilient agriculture in Southern Africa, 14-15 September 2016, talks about existing ICT programmes and extension efforts working on climate-smart agriculture in Southern Africa. 

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