We just concluded the CGIAR ICT annual meeting and the Alliance Deputies meeting on the shape of the Shared Services in the new consortium… . More on the results of these meetings later…

To prepare for the meetings, I looked at the proposed “Strategy and Results Framework” to how we could support the new CGIAR.

Mega programs

The proposed ‘Strategy and Results Framework’ introduces seven interlinked Mega Programs and two platforms — gender and capacity strengthening – that will serve as the building blocks for the work of the ‘new’ CGIAR.

How do information, knowledge, ICTs and related areas fare in these proposals?

Let’s see…. Mega-Program 3 is titled ‘Institutional Innovations, ICTs, and Markets.’ Its focus will be on: “Knowledge to inform institutional changes needed for a well-functioning local, national, and global food system that connects small farmers to agricultural value chains through information and communications technologies and facilitates policy and institutional reforms.”

This mega program “aims to unleash an ― institutional and information revolution – with and for farmers and the rural poor that improves and secures their livelihoods, and also promotes innovation along value chains.” It speculates that the “next big breakthrough in institutional innovation to be unleashed in support of poverty reduction, food and nutrition security, and environmental sustainability” might include: “linking of information and communications technologies (ICTs) to value chains and services for the poor in rural areas, through, for example, the cell phone and its increasing range of sophisticated derivatives.”

Within Mega Program 1 on ‘Crop Germplasm Conservation, Enhancement, and Use’, a program will “integrate bioinformatics and crop information systems.”

These proposals seem to recognize the importance of knowledge and information as well as ICT applications and tools within both CGIAR research processes and the agricultural innovation systems where organizations doing research and development interact. Hopefully, it will boost scattered efforts to increase research uptake, interaction and collaboration using ICTs and other innovative approaches to knowledge sharing in research.

Two cross-cutting platforms have been identified. The one on ‘capacity-building platform’ will “strengthen the capacity of the CGIAR and its partners through improved research networks, information technology, knowledge management systems, and training. The expected result is a dynamic knowledge creating and -sharing system comprising CGIAR centers, strong independent national agricultural research systems, and other research partners sharing knowledge.”

According to the plan, the capacity strengthening role of the CGIAR should “have two purposes: strengthening capacity for all Mega Program partners by fostering research collaboration and networking, and strengthening capacity for weak national agricultural research systems.”

The report goes on to say “An important element of both activities will be the development and use of advances in information and communication technologies (ICTs) and knowledge management and innovation systems, including access of Mega Program partners to applications and resources such as databases.”

These proposals seem to include work by CGIAR centers to make their data, information and knowledge accessible (see recent work on AAA and CIARD), so often limited-access knowledge is freed to be exchanged and re-used. Hopefully, they will not forget the importance of open licenses such as creative commons, and open access in general. The ‘public goods’ need to be made public! as Peter Ballantyne pointed out.

The results of our external review and the expectations laid out on the new Mega Programs will be the basis for a renewed ICT-KM strategy.

On January 22, Peter Ballantyne, president of IAALD will host a session exploring the future of libraries.

Libraries and library-like services have powered agricultural information and knowledge sharing for decades. In a ‘googling’ world, however, where information and knowledge sharing are often seen as a ‘Do-It-Yourself’ skillset, how are they still relevant and what can they do for us?

This round table will explore how libraries are combining ‘collecting’ and ‘connecting’ roles, ensuring that agricultural knowledge is on virtual shelves where we can all gain access to it, and enabling easy harvesting and communication so it can be put to use in the village, on the ground, in the lab, or across the negotiating table.

This session complements our AAA thinking..

Check the Knowledge ShareFair agenda to find other interesting sessions among the over 100 scheduled for the 3 days of the Fair

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

e-Agriculture at the IAALD-AFITA-WCCA World Conference
(24-27 August 2008, Atsugi Japan)

Plenary session, Wednesday, 27 August, 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) will facilitate an e-Agriculture panel to deliberate issues of ICT as enablers in various critical areas of development, as well as the role of Public Private Partnerships (PPP) in support of e-Agriculture.

The session will be an interactive discussion with the audience, with the panel anchored by:
– Alexander Flor, Dean, Faculty of Information and Communication Studies, University of the Philippines Open University;

– Manish Pandey, Deputy Director, Katalyst-Swisscontact;
– Michael Riggs, Information Management Specialist, FAO Regional Office for Asia-Pacific;
– Roxanna Samii, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD);
and Stephen Rudgard, FAO, as the moderator.

The panelists will share knowledge and experiences, and the audience encouraged to contribute on topics such as the use of mobile telephony use in rural areas, with particular reference to ameliorate global soaring food prices, and knowledge brokering services in support of agricultural development, including Communities of Practice and approaches to building capacity.

There will also be a reprise of the issues arising in this year’s PPP online forum and eIndia conference discussion session entitled “Making e-Agriculture Work through Public Private Partnership in Asia”. Experience and lessons in Bangladesh (Katalyst) and West Africa (Tradenet) will be contributed.

Full details of the PPP online forum, and reviews of the two sessions organized by FAO, the Global Knowledge Partnership (GKP), OneWorld South Asia and Katalyst in the e-Agriculture track of India’s largest ICT Event, eIndia 2008 in July 2008, can be found on http://www.e-agriculture.org.

For more information on IAALD-AFITA-WCCA World Conference please see http://iaald-afita-wcca2008.org/