Friday, October 8, 2010

Focus Group session on Documenting Farmer Knowledge at AgKnowledge Africa

The Focus Group session on "Documenting Farmer Knowledge" at "AgKnowledge Africa", the Share Fair on Agricultural and Rural Development Knowledge in Africa in Addis Ababa, will be organised by members of the Agricultures Network: Awa Faly Ba (IED Afrique, Dakar, Senegal), James Nguo and Susan Mwangi (ALIN, Nairobi, Kenya) and Jorge Chavez-Tafur (editor of "Farming Matters", ILEIA)

Aims of the session
As members of the Agricultures Network, ILEIA, IED and ALIN have been supporting farmers and practitioners in a series of documentation and systematization processes.

The aim has been to describe their work, analyse it in detail, and draw lessons from it; "unearthing" ideas, and thus contributing to the generation of knowledge. We have developed and tested methodologies which involve different stakeholders, and we have been able to publish the rresults, and share them widely. But our work has also focused on the identification of the main difficulties that such documentation processes have, in a way which can be seen as the documentation of a documenattion process. We have looked at the main lessons emerging, whether this is relation to the methodology used, to the involvement of different participants, or to the specific topics which these participants want to document. The different organisations we have been working with have all shown a common difficulty: that of "institutionalising" the knowledge management process, and thus sustaining it in time.

With this focus group we would like to look at these concerns. How to go beyond a one-time documentation "project"? Is it necessary to replicate this project, or to runa a different one? How to scale it up so that more people are involved? In short, this would mean identifying and sharing ideas regarding:
  • commitment and support
  • internal capacity development
  • internal institutional arrangements
  • necessary resources (and time)
Process of the session:
The session will start with a short introduction of the participants, and with a presentation of the main objectives of the meeting. We will then have two presenters, describing their own documentation processes.

Each will then face a small panel, which will ask them to look at their efforts to sustain the process. What happened after the "project" finished? What steps were taken to ensure continuity? The questions of this panel will be followed by a moderated discussion, involving all participants.

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