To kick-off my second day at the Share Fair, I am attending what looks to be an exciting session entitled ‘Empowering through capacity building and knowledge sharing at grass roots level’ being convened in the Canada Room.

The facilitator of this session- Manuel Flury from SDC- has started off the session with a go-around of introduction from all in the room and asking us all to tell everyone something about why we are attending this session and why we are interested or belive in this topic.

Some threads that came out where:

-how can we improve our research process

-bridging the gap between the stakeholders and implementors and researchers

-important to listen to grass roots people

This session will include the following ‘presentations’:

  • Improving the Performance of Private sector and local public administration in non-farm rural enterprise[Stephen Bamidele Dada]
  •  Role des Groupements de developpment agricole (GDA) dans le developpement local [Bejaoui Mourad]
  • Development of Integrated dairy schemes in Afghanistan [Tek Thapa, Lutfullah Rlung (FAO)]
  • Empowering communities to document their knowledge [Paul Quek (Bioversity)]
  • Economic partnership agreements (EPAs) and family farming: farmers’ organisations acquire knowledge to engage in negotiation processes [Roberto Longo (IFAD)]
  • Safe food despite wastewater irrigation: A knowledge sharing approach to safe food [Tonya Schuetz (IWMI-CGIAR)]

Rather than having long presentations the submitters will each give a ’60 second’ advertisement about their project ” this is my business, this is what we do” as a teaser to the participants from which they can choose one of the topics to visit for a longer, small group session (for ten minutes).

Adverts included:

Roberto’s advert encouraged us to come and hear about the economic partnership agreements that have been arranaged through joint relationships and demanded for by the communities.

Tonya told us ” i would like to discuss the right marketing links for disseminating our knowledge. How do we find the right tools? how do we know that we got it right?. I will give an example of using knowledge sharing in public health in wastewater irrigation in Ghana. Come and hear about how we turned around a situation from the government jaling farmers for using wastewater to giving out a prize each year to the best farmer on Farmer Day!”

Paul: “we have been able to empower communciities to document their own knowledge on agricuclture, bioversity and business. How can scientists make use of this. How can scientists learn to interact with such communities? How can communties sustain this knowledge and keep documenting and using their own knowledge- what after document?’

I then visited Tonya’s group for a more in-depth discussion on her project. Some highlights of this discussion were:

*Used world cafe approach to bring together various stakeholders at the point when research results were first developed and to discuss these with them and also how these can be defined in messages and developed into appropriate interventions

*Developed, together with users, various training and communication products such as

  • DVDs
  • training manuals for catering schools
  • flip charts for extension agents which they cna use in the field with their communities
  • radio programs
  • roadshow along the contamination pathway to learn about necessay approaches at each stage

what was successsful:

  1. tapped into and brought together four related projects
  2. managed to change the researchers way of thinking
  3. adoption rate= >75%
  4. Private sector taking up many of these approaches and products
  5. starting up of  farmer award

Report-back and interesting wauestions emerging from the discussions:

Roberto’s group on environmental partnership agreements came up with-

*how was the level of organisation of farmers critical to participate?

*what were the achievements of the collaboration with farmer organisations?

Paul’s group discussed–

*how did the community perceive the process and how did they consider it to be useful for them?

*how community can perceive the value of documenting their knowledge and exposing it to outsiders?

Tonya’s group discussed how to communicate research in different ways–

*can marketing also be used for empowering–with them end up marketing the ideas, practices etc themselves?

An interesting discussion amongst all participants about the various presentations and topic as a whole then happened for the last fifteen minutes of the session.

At the end of the session we asked “What people felt about the process?”:

  • presenters like the format
  • gave people more time to talk
  • made it more informal and comfortable
  • worked well but frustrated at not being able to hear what other groups talked about
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