October 2008

Mobile phones are the success story of bridging the rural digital divide, bringing tangible economic benefits and acting as agents of social mobilization through improved communication. But what are the real challenges that face reaching rural areas, and what are some of today’s most beneficial applications that can help these rural communities, specifically regarding agriculture development?

This Forum will examine the challenges that rural communities face in enhancing the benefits of mobile telephony, and look at some examples of interesting initiatives and good outcomes from around the globe.

Subject Matter experts include:

  • Pete Cranston, ICT and New Media in Development Consultant
  • Jawahar Kanjilal, Global Head of Emerging Market Services, Services & Software, Nokia
  • Christian Kreutz, Consultant, Knowledge Activist
  • AHM Sultanur Reza, Additional General Manager and Head, Community Information Center, Grameenphone Ltd.
  • Luca Servo, Knowledge Manager and Online Communities Expert, FAO
  • Nigel Scott, Gamos Ltd
  • Charlotte Masiello-Riome, Communications Expert and e-Agriculture.org Coordinator
  • Michael Riggs, Information Management Specialist for the Asia-Pacific region, FAO

Register on the e-agriculture platform, if you haven’t already done so. Go to http://www.e-agriculture.org/regform.html

As part of my work as Marketing Officer (Quality Improvement) at FAO’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, I am involved in sharing knowledge and information about new marketing best practices with my colleagues in the regional office’s informal and multidisciplinary Commercialization and Agri-Business Interest Group (CABIG).
As a coordinator of CABIG – pronounced “cabbage” – I decided to attend the Second FAO/ICT-KM Knowledge Sharing Workshop to learn about innovative knowledge sharing methods that will enable me to make the most of group discussions in my workplace. I also hoped to discover new web-based tools that can help a community of practice, the members of which do not necessarily have the time nor financial means to meet face-to-face, to collaborate remotely.
The workshop helped me to explore knowledge-sharing challenges and opportunities, and how to make the most of face-to-face collaboration. We also discussed alternatives to email and tools for virtual collaboration. This was extremely useful as most of my work in a decentralized office of FAO also makes me interact frequently with my Headquarters colleagues and supervisors in Rome by email. The workshop also allowed me to learn tips in order to become a better facilitator of meetings and group discussions, which will also help me in my work.
To sum it up in just three words, I have realized that knowledge sharing is collaborative, flexible, and, very importantly, fun.

At the recently held “Maxmising the impact of agricultural research in Africa: A workshop on research communication” in Addis in October, a number of ways of capturing, documenting and sharing the workshop were carried out. These are becoming available though a number of different channels–read on for ways to find these resources.

Peter Ballantyne, President of the International Association of Agricultural Information Specialist (IAALD), was not only a participant at the recently held “Maximising the impact of agricultural research in Africa: A Workshop on research communication” but played an active role in documenting the workshop through blog posts as well as blips (small video clips) of interviews with various organisers and participants in the workshop.

You might be interested to see some of the material from the workshop at:

These comprise a series of short blog stories with links to some short video interviews taken by Peter in Addis.
Everything is listed from this page: http://iaald.blogspot.com/2008/10/stories-from-addis-research.html

Additionally, I-Nadia took hundreds of photos to document and share with you what was going on at the workshop and who was there. The photos are available online using the Flickr account of the KS project at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8764209@N07/sets/72157608287846090/

Furthermore GDN has been updating a few sections on the workshop briefing page on the GDNet website (http://www.gdnet.org/middle.php?oid=1492 ) and added the workshop agenda online with links to all material shared at the workshop (http://www.gdnet.org/middle.php?oid=1564 )

On 21st October we alerted you on the workshop to be held in Addis Ababa on how communication can help improve the impact of agriculture research. The ICT-KM program was one of the organizers of the event.
Watch our Nadia Manning-Thomas
tell her story about how the knowledge sharing approach proposed by the ICT-KM program is based on improving the impact of research along the whole cycle. She goes on arguing how undertaking knowledge-sharing can help to achieve other research objectives, such as enhanced relevance; multi-stakeholder engagement; collaboration along the cycle, dissemination and uptake, and M&E…and how she reveals the lessons we learned…

Don’t miss Patti Kristjanson, Leader of the ‘Innovation Works’ Initiative at ILRI, the International Livestock Research Institute in Kenya for an example of the ‘innovation systems perspective’ – “how we do the research, more innovatively, with partners, to have more impact on sustainable poverty reduction.”

Bioversity International, the CGIAR ICT-KM program, FAO, IFAD and WFP are jointly organizing a 3-day event entitled Knowledge Share Fair for Agricultural Development and Food Security to be held at FAO Headquarters on 20 – 22 January 2009

Visit ShareFair to keep yourself informed on the upcoming ShareFair!

These are reflections from Agnes and Marco about Open Space Technology which was used during the face-to-face phase of the 2nd FAO KS Workshop.

Interview with Agnes
Agnes’ first words were: lots of new Ideas! And the interview could have stopped there. But there’s more. She came to the workshop with specific needs so throughout the process she always kept her ears and eyes wide open to pick up every little detail.
Open Space was engaging, constructive and a good learning experience.  How? The idea of people with specific needs converging and discussing real issues was great.  Agnes felt fully involved and was glad to hear experiences from a diverse group of people.  In particular, she found the session on Intranets very remarkable since it gave her hints for concrete application in her work space.
Besides the content discussed, Agnes particularly enjoyed the process of Open Space (and other methods) because it gave her the opportunity to interact with other participants. The social aspect of the process helped to share and take in from the whole experience.

Interview with Marco
Marco’s idea of attending the workshop was to explore tools and methods used in knowledge sharing. Open Space among other methods experimented, was an experience he found good for motivating participation.  This was particularly with the concept of having participants develop their own agenda. He was skeptical about this at first, but later appreciated the freedom and democracy the approach gave to the participants.
Marco’s observation about the sessions was that there was a mix between specific and more general topics. He points out that much as the process was quite engaging; especially in delicious and community radio sessions, content was not fully analyzed in others. He admits that generally, he benefited not only in understanding content but also application of the processes.
He appreciates the fact that his quest has been met given that the exposure he has received will help him find possible applications in his work.

Other participants have also added their feedback:

All other posts regarding the workshop are at: https://ictkm.wordpress.com/tag/ksworkshop2/

Have a look at Nancy White’s post on the KS Workshop. Her reflections will be followed soon here by a summary of the participant’s feedback.

Nancy White and workshop participants

Nancy White and workshop participants

As part of learning about and trying new tools and approaches to communication, as well as wanting to share with others out there about the workshop- some of the organisers and participants will be blogging on the event- “Maximising Impact of Agricultural Research In Africa: A Workshop on Research Communication” which starts today- October 21st- at UN ECA in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The workshop is being organised by IFPRI, WBI, GDN and ICT-KM.

Check out this space for more posts on the event.

Also check out the IAALD blog at http://www.iaald.org/

As announced in a previous blog post, WorldFish delivered it’s storymercial, a short and punchy video that aims at attracting investors, partners and media to support research and apply its outputs.

WorldFish now shares this innovative KS approach through a “how to” guide.

Research-oriented organizations cannot be satisfied just knowing they have produced high quality science. It is essential that the outputs of research are communicated and put to use, in the village, on the ground, in the lab, or across the negotiating table.
On 30 November 2008, the ICT-KM Program of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), the Forum on Agricultural Research for Africa (FARA) and the UK Department for International Development (DFID – through its R4D initiative) will organise a practical briefing session as part of the CGIAR Annual General Meeting in Maputo.

The session starts from the premise that research outputs can – and must – be much more open and accessible. For this:
–         We need to give priority to the ‘accessibility’ as well as to the ‘quality’ of research outputs.
–         We need a better overview of the various research products and the ways and means we can make them accessible.
–         We can use a ‘triple A’ policy and action checklist to maximize both the accessibility of these outputs and the chances that they will be applied and put to use.
–         We need to build communication partnerships with ‘adaptive and delivery’ agents that will take and apply knowledge from research, reinforcing their capacities as required.
The session draws on expertise from three partners – the CGIAR ICT-KM Program, FARA, and the DFID/R4D project led by CABI.
–         We will demonstrate the ‘accessibility gap’, showing how truly inaccessible some research outputs actually are.
–         We will illustrate ‘paths to accessibility’, showing concrete changes that help to make research outputs more accessible.
–         Participants will take away a checklist of questions and actions to help assess and improve the accessibility of their research.

For more information write to us at ictkm@cgiar.org or visit our site www.ictkm.cgiar.org

The IAALD Africa congress will be held in Accra, Ghana in 2009 (13 – 17 July).

People from Africa or working in Africa are particularly encouraged to submit papers and posters, before the end of October please.

More information can be found here:

English: http://www.iaald-africa.org/chapter_conference2009_en.html

Français : http://www.iaald-africa.org/chapter_conference2009_fr.html

Based on a former post on a framwework for institutional knowledge sharing, the project has now published a Web page with the revised framework and the achievements of the project in the different areas of intervention:

We can use knowledge sharing (KS) principles, methods, and tools to support our organization’s development. They can help us build internal capacity so that we can work, in even more effective ways, towards our mission and to sustain ourselves over the long term. That is:

  • KS can help us recognize and deal with today’s complexities, while strengthening our skills and attitudes. It also supports organizational learning and evaluation processes. 
  • By incorporating KS tools and methods into its strategic planning and change processes, our management can promote involvement, buy-in, and follow-up action of both staff and stakeholders. 
  • Systematic KS can make organizational day-to-day business more effective, visible, and transparent. 

The Institutional KS Project supports activities for three strategic areas, and looks at the potential impact of KS for organizational development from both a transformational and practical perspective.

We use the following action framework to plan, implement, monitor, and evaluate our KS interventions in those three areas. The text below also highlights our Project’s achievements.

KS Framework

KS Framework

1. Capacity building, M&E, and Learning: Dealing with complexity to empower staff

KS Workshop

  • Workshop concept and design developed, and two workshops held.
  • Reached 13 CGIAR centers and 7 partner organizations, involving 80 participants.
  • FAO took the lead for the second workshop.
  • Seven participants are co-authoring an article on challenges and experiences in their areas of work at the time of the Workshop.
  • A pool of facilitators and mentors is being built—two workshops had eight facilitators and/or mentors, with four being former participants.
  • Read more

Evaluation study

  • KS activities for Phase I (2004–2006) evaluated in 6 centers and the CGIAR Secretariat.
  • Criteria and indicators for an M&E framework developed.
  • Preliminary Findings :
  • KS approaches are crucial if we aim to build our work upon the collective knowledge of our staff and research partners
  • When introducing KS, it is best to start small
  • KS enables us to pay attention to the process of our interactions and create spaces for people to be heard, and unintentionally suppressed talent is freed up.
  • KS assures continuity in institutional cultures while facilitating change processes.
  • KS works best when applied simultaneously at the grassroots and the leadership level
  • Building capacity in KS pays off
  • Read more

Involvement with the KM4Dev community

  • Visibility of CGIAR raised among practitioners of knowledge management (Km) for development 
  • KM4Dev journal on “KM in Latin America and the Caribbean” guest-edited.
  • Sponsorship of two CGIAR staff participating in the annual KM4Dev meeting.
  • Participation in the community core group.
  • Pool of co-workers and consultants created.
  • Visit KM4Dev

2. Strategies and change management: Promoting involvement in organizational change processes

CGIAR change process and stakeholder engagement

  • Support within the organization for strategic meetings (AGM 06, 07, and 08), applying KS principles.
  • Advised on and facilitated consultation processes with stakeholders, whether through virtual (e.g., blogs) or actual means (e.g., face-to-face meetings).
  • Contribute and facilitate engagement with civil society organizations (CSOs).

CIFOR pilot project

  • Promoted participation of staff and Board in CIFOR’s strategic planning.
  • KS approaches used to increase participation, and identify and address common issues and concerns.
  • Framework included to monitor and evaluate the implementation of strategies.
  • Read more

3. Problem solving and best practices: Making organizational processes more interactive, visible, and transparent

Pilot projects

KS Toolkit

  • This resource, in wiki format, targets professionals working in international development. It has been expanded and improved. A user community has been created and membership promoted, particularly through active linkages with the KS Workshop. So far, the Toolkit wiki contains 70 tools and methods for sharing knowledge, receives more than 10,000 visits per month, and has 68 registered members.
  • It also contains descriptions, experiences, how-to guides, and relevant links for Web-based applications and face-to-face group processes. It features a “context” page where users can search for appropriate tools and methods by either defining the nature and needs of their work or using keywords (tags).
  • FAO has become an offical partner for the Toolkit.
  • Visit the Toolkit

KS Project’s website

  • Continuously updated through the incorporation of Web 2.0 tools.
  • The Toolkit wiki is the main resource featuring on the website.
  • A photo gallery, housed in Flickr, contains more than 1200 images (including photos and illustrations). As of October 2008, it records an average of 120 viewers daily.
  • The KS blog receives more than 1000 visits per month.
  • More than 160 important resources are bookmarked, tagged, and dynamically shared on the home page.
  • Users can also subscribe to website updates via RSS feeds.

Improving Agriculture Knowledge Sharing, Education and Learning through Collaboration and Partnerships” 4th and 5th December 2008 – Maputo

“Knowledge sharing (KS), education and learning are part of a continuum that must be considered together so as to benefit agricultural progress.” says Ajit Maru of the Global Forum for Agricultural Research

The ICT-KM Program of the Consultative Groups on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR) and the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) along with other partners are organizing a workshop to discuss priorities and develop an agenda for action through global collaboration. The objective: improving agricultural knowledge management, education and learning.

The outcomes of this meeting will feed into a planned high level conference on improving investment in agricultural research and innovation in 2009 being organized jointly by GFAR, FAO, IFAD and the CGIAR.

The agenda is divided in three half-day sessions:
– Listen and discuss together different experiences and perspectives on KM, agricultural education, and learning
– Work in small groups on 1) Formal Agricultural Education; 2) Enabling Opportunities for Learning for Agricultural Livelihoods; 3) Knowledge Management – How To
– Plan follow-up actions

The session on “Knowledge-Management – How To” faciliated by Steve Song will address the areas of interest expressed by KM practitioners through a previous survey, and will aim at identifying areas of collaboration based on our various and diverse experiences among centers and partners.

More information at: http://kmstrategyworkshop.wikispaces.com/  or write to ictkm@cgiar.org


Bioversity International, the CGIAR ICT-KM program, FAO, IFAD and WFP are jointly organizing a 3-day event entitled Knowledge “Share Fair” for Agricultural Development and Food Security to be held at FAO Headquarters on 20 – 22 January 2009.

See the newly launched (but provisional) Knowledge “Share Fair” website


The Share Fair will provide an interactive experience, allowing staff and our Rome-based constituents to:

  • share and learn from each others good practices;
  • experiment with tools and methodologies for knowledge sharing;
  • create linkages and networks for future collaboration between the organizations;
  • develop ideas to support and enhance knowledge sharing within and across our organizations.


The purpose of the event is to showcase examples of good knowledge sharing practices in the field of agricultural development and food security. Specifically, we have structured the Fair to allow staff to learn from each other how knowledge sharing practices, methods and tools have enhanced their work and made their project(s) more successful and effective.

The Share Fair will showcase examples of knowledge sharing strategies, policies and operational practices using case studies, anecdotes, and face-to-face events.

We would like you to tell us a story about how you and/or your project dealt with one – or more – of the contexts (see Section 2 and 3 of the Call for Proposals).

Download Call for Proposals


All projects will be refereed through a peer review process. Potential contributors are strongly encouraged to submit their proposals no later than 31st October, 2008. You can submit your proposals via email to: share-fair@fao.org

Please note that this is a provisional Web page intended to advertise the Call for Proposals of the Knowledge Share Fair prior to the publication of the official Web site

The “Maximising Impact of Agricultural Research In Africa: A Workshop on Research Communication” set to take place October 21st and 22nd in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia is being organised by IFPRI, WBI, GDN and ICT-KM.

To start the interactions amongst the participants, A DGroup has been set up.

The DGroup has already been used to:

  • upload documents, links and other resources
  • enter events in and around the workshop into the calendar
  • update profiles of the people in the group
  • send messages to the group

While useful and necessary information has started to circulate amongst the group via the DGroup, it has also seen a flurry of messages where people have introduced themselves.

Sue Canney-Davison, facilitator of the event, has also begun to post some interesting questions about everyone’s work and experiences on research communication and their expectations for the workshop… with more to follow in the days before the workshop.

  • The first question posed was: Let us know who you are”
  • This was followed by: “To whom do you normally communicate research, or would like to communciate research?”

Further questions circulating in the group include:

  • Can you share a little about the research communication work you are currently involved in?”
  • “What tools or medium are you working with and who are you communicating to using these?”

The responses are coming in-with everyone getting to know each other and starting to share their work and ideas:

For example: Brigitte Nyambo, Head Technology Transfer Unit, ICIPE- shared with everyone

My name is Brigitte Nyambo, A BSc agriculture graduate from the University of Dar es Salaam Tanzania, MSc Applied Entomology and PhD Imperial College University of London; An IPM Specialist, has been pushing the R4D wheel barrow since 1994. Currently I head the technology Transfer Unit at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) based in Nairobi-Kenya. Webpage: http://www.icipe.org

I communicate with and to scientists at international, regional and national levels, farmers, extension workers (regional and national), policy makers (international, regional and national), journalists (international, regional and national), students and development agencies

The response to the DGroup as a mechanism for communicating and sharing for this workshop has also been positive:

Jean Paul Ntezimana from Rwanda wrote:” Dear All, I am happy to find this communication tool between our group. Thank you to join and share ideas, hope to meet you next week.

For more information see http://www.gdnet.org/middle.php?oid=1492

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