Thursday, October 21, 2010

Livestock Learning Pathway: Feedback from the 'Grassroots Group'

By Beth Cullen

On Day One of the Agknowledge Africa sharefair in Addis Ababa I participated in the Livestock Learning Pathway. To start the session we engaged in a mapping exercise in order to acquaint ourselves with one another and to learn more about where people came from. As a result of this mapping exercise we divided into three groups. Each group represented different levels of the livestock sector: policy level, project level and grassroots level. I was part of the Grassroots Group, interestingly the smallest group consisting of only three people: Yared Girma, Felician Ncheye and myself, Beth Cullen. As a group we shared our experiences of livestock related Knowledge Management.

Felician from Tanzania told us about his experiences of sharing best practice of livestock activities at community level. He explained that his work involves packaging and sharing knowledge using a variety of techniques, including CDs, publications, radio broadcasts and experience sharing visits. He has also been involved in organising a committee for livestock, agriculture and fisheries. This committee works to encourage and mobilise peers and to strategise.

Yared from Ethiopia works in the apiculture sector for a Beekeepers Association. The Association currently has approximately 450 members. The Association works to transfer technical knowledge of modern beekeeping techniques in order to build the capacity of its members. They also supply beekeeping equipment. The members process honey and beeswax manually and collect the produce together as an association. This is sold at market places and display centres to nearby communities. The Head office is in Adama (Nazret) in Oromia Region with local offices in various locations.

I shared my experiences of working with Karrayyu Oromo pastoralists in the Awash Valley of Ethiopia using participatory video as a way of conducting participatory and collaborative research. The video was used to direct the research process and was used by community members to document their knowledge, culture and perspectives. Community members focused on pastoralism as a way of life, the importance of animals, the environment and indigenous institutions. The method has a variety of applications for both research and development.

As part of our knowledge sharing we also discussed some of the key issues each of us have been battling with in our work and we visualised the discussion in the form of a map. For Felician the main challenges he has been facing are the identification of markets and securing good prices. Weather can be a problem for livestock keepers, particularly drought periods. There are also insufficient resources, for example lack of funds and equipment. Another problem he identified was the lack of knowledge and information at local level in order to tackle the above mentioned problems adequately. Yared faced some similar difficulties in terms of price fluctuation of honey, beeswax and beekeeping products. He also experiences problems with supply, shortage of finance and access to land for beekeeing, and difficulties packaging products. There are also challenges regarding putting some aspects of the technical knowledge into practice. In my work with the Karrayyu there is a challenge in terms of how to take the PV work further and convey the messages of community members to people at higher level and how to further develop the method for more applied contexts.

After we had discussed in our individual groups we fed back to the other groups and shared experience between the different levels. The discussions and sharing process was very useful in terms of gaining more knowledge of KM activities in different areas of the livestock sector and understanding some of the challenges people are facing in different settings.

Read more about the livestock pathway discussions:

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