30 years

How does knowledge lead to transformation?

Whether it is about improved farming techniques or good business practices, a farmer’s ability to access and use knowledge is critical in transforming smallholder agriculture into a profitable enterprise in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific.

Working with its partners, CTA has experienced firsthand the life-changing impact  access to knowledge has on agriculture and rural communities in these countries.

As part of the Knowledge Is campaign, discover how CTA’s activities such as capacity building in the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs)and initiatives in value chain development are helping to transform peoples’ lives and to elevate business practices across the region.

CTA is dedicated to ensuring a greater number of people in even the most remote areas get easy access to the information they need, when they need it.

CTA is committed to working on innovative and sustainable projects with its partners, allowing everyone to play a role in the fight for food and nutrition security and sustainable management of natural resources. By doing this CTA continue to leverage relevant knowledge as an engine of transformation.

In many parts of Africa, farmers are not producing nearly as much of the staple food crops as they could and should. Take, for example, the situation in Kenya. "Every soul in this country consumes around 90 kg of maize each year, which amounts to 40 million bags," says Gerald Masila, director of the Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC). "But our farmers are only producing around 29 million bags." There is an even greater shortfall for wheat, with the country importing some 60% of its needs.

It is market day in the village of Gakenke, in Rwanda's North Province, and by mid-morning the Business Development Centre is doing brisk business. "More than 50 people will come to use the computers and the Internet today," says manager Alice Nadine Kaneza. During the rest of the week, even on quiet days, at least 20 people – including students, farmers and local entrepreneurs – make use of the centre's facilities.

Invented by Philips Telecommunications and Data Systems in 1984, CD-ROM (Compact Disc Read-Only Memory) technology uses high capacity optical disks to store written information. The discs, identical to the better known audio disc, are wafer thin and weigh just 16 grams. One disc can hold the equivalent of 330,000 typewritten pages, or 1900 single-sided floppy discs, stored in digital electronic form.

At the time, it was ground-breaking information technology. CTA's CD-ROM programme, which offered direct access to large amounts of bibliographic and other data on issues related to small-scale agriculture, was a lifeline for areas cut off from reliable information.

In 2013, CTA’s ‘Web 2.0 and Social Media Learning Opportunities’ was the winner of the World Summit on the Information Society prize in the ‘ICT applications: e-agriculture’ category. This was in recognition of the remarkable success of its Web 2.0 training programmes, which began in 2008. Over the years, CTA has received a continuous stream of positive feedback. “Many people have told us that the training sessions have not only changed their working behaviour, but their whole lives,” says Giacomo Rambaldi.