The IRRI Rice Knowledge Bank [RKB] is the central repository for all IRRI’s research-based rice science and rice farming knowledge that is relevant to the extension-farmer community. The IRRI RKB is also the model for similar RKBs in each partner country where the individual countries select, validate and modify rice farming knowledge for their extension/farmer communities. The strength of the RKB community depends on developing a shared vision for the RKBs, a sharing of knowledge and exchanging information about technical issues.

Recently the RKB has undergone a significant revision in its form and much effort is now being expended in updating the content. The new form for all content will be Joomla-based, an open source software platform that is inexpensive and easy for partner countries to use for modification of IRRI content. In addition, some new features are being considered in the form of ‘expert systems’ – the very popular Rice Doctor will be upgraded to link to other content within the RKB, and ‘expert systems’ for farm machinery purchase will be added.

This is an opportune time to gain in-depth advice from IRRI’s RKB constituency and to build an institutional understanding of the challenges in managing up to date knowledge for extension. This will also strengthen the longer term linkage between NAFRI and IRRI in the processes of knowledge management for rice and build stronger two way communication.

As part of its Knowledge Sharing in Research Pilot project, IRRI has invited and funded a 1 month on-the-job traineeship for a person from the Laos Ministry of Agriculture to work within the RKB technical team on re-structuring an adding extra features to the RKB.

Activities during this one month included:
(1) Review of the Joomla directions from the point of view of in-country partners and provide advice as to its suitability.
(2) Assisting in the conversion of electronic books and e-learning products to the new format and advise on their appropriateness.
(3) Creating a PowerPoint presentation showing a wide range of fact sheet formats.
(4) Creating a set of instructions for in-country partners regarding the conversion of IRRI content to local form and languages.
(5) Advising on how to address the issue of ‘facilitated learning’ conducted by in-country partners based on the IRRI e-learning courses.
(6) Assisting in the technical re-design of the Rice Doctor and the implantation of other ‘expert system’ modules.

In addition, the on-the-job-training activity will create a model of closer technical cooperation between IRRI RKB and its in-country partners which will be necessary in the move to greater exchange of knowledge between countries.

The person chosen for the on-the-job-training was Virachith. He has just completed his one month and we hope to share some of his experiences and lessons in future blog posts.

According to Noel Magor, Head of training at IRRI, “Virachith had a very productive time here and so I was more than happy that we had taken the steps to bring him here within the time of the KSinR Pilot project”.