David Raitzer, Project Leader of the CIFOR KSinR Pilot Project on “Shared learning to enhance research priority assessment practices” will be presenting the work of his Pilot Project on the ‘CGIAR experience on priority setting’ as a valuable knowledge sharing strategy leading to more effective research and impact.

He will be making his presentation at an International Workshop on “methodological innovations in impact assessment of agricultural research investments” being organised by EMBRAPA at their Headquarters in Brasilia, Brazil on 12-14th November 2008. The next CGIAR IAFP-SPIA meeting is scheduled to be held right before this on 10-11 November 2008 also at EMBRAPA Headquarters in Brasilia, Brazil, an event which David Raitzer is helping to organise and also attending. For more information-see link to CGIAR’s Impact Calendar

The presentation will be made in a 30 minute slot provided to David in a section of the workshop devoted to looking at “Ex-ante impact evaluation and priority setting in agricultural research”:
11:00 -11:30 – Paper G2 – Prioritizing Agricultural Research for Development: Experience and Lessons from the CGIAR – David Raitzer, CIFOR

The presentation by David will be based on the forthcoming CABI-published book entitled “Prioritizing Agricultural Research for Development: Experience and Lessons” being produced from the Knowledge Sharing in Research Pilot project run by CIFOR.

The book, which should be finalized just before the workshop, involves 12 CGIAR IARCs, as well as other partners. This compendium shares experiences and innovations with priority assessment methods in the CGIAR and its partners at various levels, and with respect to a diverse array of research areas. Each chapter presents and appraises one or more methods that have been used to articulate, explore, and assess impact pathways and research priorities in one or more CGIAR centres. Subsequently, each chapter appraises experiences with the methods described, so as to communicate and share strengths and weaknesses encountered for each approach. These chapters are followed by a “synthesis” chapter that draws together real world methodological lessons from the case chapters.

The presentation is aimed at:

  • raising awareness about the topic, the KSinR Pilot Project, and the book
  • giving an overview of the contents of the book
  • facilitating a discussion on the value of sharing knowledge around this topic and the ways it can be best done

We look forward to the results of this presentation, which will also be documented on the KS website (www.ks-cgiar.org) and on this blog…

In response to an increasing demand for training in urban agriculture, Ryerson University’s Centre for Studies in Food Security and The Chang School are developing a portfolio of distance education courses on urban agriculture in partnership with ETC-Urban Agriculture and the international network of Resource Centres on Urban Agriculture and Food security (RUAF). See the flyer for more details on the courses.

Training and awareness videos that have been developed and used through the support of the IWMI Wastewater KSinR Pilot project to outreach messages on good practices of wastewater use coming out of research projects to caterers, farmers and extension agents are to become resources for these Urban Agriculture courses.

Information on the videos can be found at on the IWMI Wastewater training and awareness videos page.

With the distance learning course targeting people from various organizations and areas of work, around the world, the videos will serve as a useful resource for information and recommendations derived from a set of research projects which have been working on the topic of wastewater in urban agriculture in West Africa.

The videos, initially designed to help achieve knowledge sharing with caterers, farmers and extension agents, will now achieve even more knowledge sharing with the various ‘students’ of the distance learning courses” highlighted Dr. Pay Drechsel, IWMI Theme Leader and Researcher on Wastewater.

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”.

The Knowledge Sharing in Research project has been featured on the website of the Challenge Program of Water and Food (CPWF)–www.waterandfood.org/, under the ‘Research’ tab– see KSinR link

Link to \'Knowledge sharing project\' page from CPWF homepage

Link to 'Knowledge sharing project' page from CPWF homepage

\'Knowledge Sharing in Research\' page on CPWF website

'Knowledge Sharing in Research' page on CPWF website

The Knowledge Sharing project-both Phase I and II- have enjoyed great support from the CPWF, which itself adopts many principles and frameworks of knowledge sharing in research.

The CPWF contributes to the KSinR initiative’s Pilot Projects through the work and collaboration of its own projects and relationships–see below:

1. KSinR Pilot Project: Application of KS tools to impact monitoring and project M&E to a community-based fish culture project in Vietnam

Centre: WorldFish
Project Leader: Dr. Natasja Sheriff
Location: Vietnam
CPWF affiliation: CPWF Project No. 35 Community-based fish culture in seasonal flood plains and irrigation systems

2. KSinR Pilot Project: Knowledge Management Harmonizing Research Output in the Northern Uplands of Laos PDR

Project Leader: Dr. Ben Samson
Location: Laos
CPWF affiliation: Some of the results being harmonised, packaged and added to the Rice Knowledge Bank are from CPWF projects including:

1) Inventories of community resources, indigenous knowledge (IRRI-IFAD-CPWF)
2) More effective strategies for rapid dissemination of technologies (IRRI-IFAD-CPWF)
3) Improved capacity of NARES to plan and implement integrative research and development (IRRI-IFAD-CPWF)
4) Improved rice-based cropping systems for uplands for raising farm productivity (IRRI-CPWF-DMC-CIRAD-CIAT)
5) Managing land and water resources of communities in a sustainable manner (IRRI-CPWF)
6) Improved rice varieties and crop and water management practices to raise water productivity (IRRI-CPWF)

3. KSinR Pilot Project: Safe food despite wastewater irrigation: A Knowledge Sharing Approach
Centre: IWMI
Project Leader: Tonya Schuetz
Location: Ghana (West Africa region)
CPWF affiliation: CPWF Project No. 51 The impact of wastewater irrigation on human health and food safety among urban communities in the Volta Basin

4. KSinR Pilot Project: International Farmers Conference
Centre: ICARDA
Project Leader: Dr. Stefania Grando
Location: Syria (with other locations)
CPWF affiliation: Related to work of ICARDA’s Participatory Plant Breeding Program which includes CPWF Project No. 2 Water Productivity Improvement in Eritrea which was involved in the Farmers’ Conference idea and implementation

5. KSinR Pilot Project: Shared Learning to Enhance Research Priority Assessment Practices
Centre: CIFOR
Project Leader: David Raitzer
Location: Global across CGIAR
CPWF affiliation: A chapter in a compendium being developed in this Pilot Project concerns research priority assessment methodology and experience in the CPWF, written by Boru Douthwaite, Ronald Mackay, Sophie Alvarez, J.D.H. Keatinge, Graham Thiele and Jamie Watts (Concordia University, CGIAR Challenge Programme on Water and Food, CIP and Bioversity International)

In sub-Saharan Africa, where wastewater treatment does not keep pace with city growth, the use of polluted water in irrigated vegetable production is very common. This puts urban dwellers at risk as these vegetables are part of the urban fast food. An number of entry points for health risk reduction are important, including safer irrigation practices as well as food safety and hygiene.

As part of their knowledge sharing efforts to improve collaboration and delivery of research results, the IWMI Wastewater KSinR Pilot project has supported a number of Wastewater projects run by IWMI and supported by CPWF in West Africa to develop a number of videos to help spread messages coming out of the research. These include:

1. “Improving Food Safety in Africa-where vegetables are irrigated with polluted water.

This is an awareness and training video for staff of street restaurants.

This video tries to convey 8 basic rules for the food catering sector as identified in two projects carried out by IWMI through funding and support of the CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food. These give special attention to contaminated vegetables in the general frame of food safety.

To keep the messages as realistic as possible the video applied the concept of ‘participatory video making’ in close collaboration with the street food catering services sector in Ghana.

This video is in English with French subtitles available.

Handouts with main messages in English and French are available and are to be given out to the audience to whom the video is being shown.

2. “Good farming practices to reduce vegetable contamination. Options test in wastewater-irrigated farms in Ghana”

This is an awareness and training video for extension officers and farmers.

An important entry point for health risk reduction is the farm where safer farming and irrigation practices can reduce the initial crop contamination levels significantly.

This video tries to convey 10 options for farmers as identified and tested in a project of the CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food (CPWF), lead by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI)

This video is in English with French subtitles available.

These videos have been used a number of training and other workshops.

One of the activities proposed by the IWMI Wastewater KSinR Pilot project was the development of an interactive radio program to extend the delivery of research results and messages to target groups. The radio program was targeted at farmers, traders (market women) and caterers-all users of wastewater in various stages of food production.

A script for the radio program was first developed by deriving key messages from results of various research projects working on wastewater issues in Ghana. Once the key messages to be broadcast were developed, these were translated into Dagbani, a local language in Ghana.

The radio program was designed to be interactive, using the following format:

  • jingle
  • introduction by program host
  • traditional music
  • drama
  • talk by host or agricultural extension agent
  • question and answer session
  • panel discussions based on call-ins
  • conclusions

This interactive radio broadcasting on wastewater use messages was recently held on 14th and 20th June 2008.

According to the leader of this activity, Gordana Kranjac-Berisavljevic “it went well.”

She reported back that “we discussed basically 5 key messages for safer use of wastewater where relevant to farmers, vendors and caterers in Dagbani, as well as the recommendations that came out of the World Cafe discussions about key messages held with target groups earlier, with Mr Ghanyu adding some useful advice as facilitator.”

As this is a new approach of dissemination for many research organisations, it is interesting to look at the challenges that may occur as well. Gordana explained that “The problem we found is that everyone talks too much, it was difficult confining them to a 1 hour frame“.

Dr. Pay Dreschel, IWMI researcher and Theme Leader in the Ghana office who oversees the wastewater work and champions the KS efforts within it, responded to this time issue saying “this type of chaos is often inevitable and can be reduced by developing before-hand a clear discussion line for the program“.

This radio program has been recorded and will be shared with others who may be able to use the program itself or learn from this experience for undertaking their own radio programs.

To follow-up on this activity in order to learn from the use of this type of strategy and see whether the messages were received, remembered and used, interviews with listeners will be carried out.

According to Pay “it will be interesting to get the listener feedback. Doing this some weeks later will have merit in terms of seeing if there is any longer-term memory or behaviour change impact from the radio program“.

ICARDA’s International Farmers’ Conference is featured in the June 2008 edition of the PRGA newsletter.

The newsletter also has some other interesting articles .

The Knowledge Sharing website is being featured on the website of the System-Wide Program on Participatory Research and Gender Analysis (PRGA) as the “Website of the Week” -see PRGA website

There are alot of commonalities between the PRGA program and the Knowledge Sharing in Research project in particular. As such we are trying to explore how to share information, promote each other’s work, collaborate and do some joint communication.

A particular link between the PRGA and KSinR is the work of the ICARDA Participatory Plant Breeding program which is actively involved in the PRGA Participatory Plant Breeding Working Group and is leading one the 6 KSinR Pilot Projects- “International Farmers’ Conference”.