Collaborate, Create, Communicate

Choosing technologies for sharing in the IRRI Laos Rice Knowledge Bank

The Knowledge Sharing in Research Pilot Project of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) is using knowledge management/knowledge sharing to harmonise and share research outputs in the Northern uplands of Laos PDR. One of the main avenues for sharing research outputs is through the Rice Knowledge Bank(RKB). The aim of the project is to identify technologies and knowledge from research projects in the Laos Northern Uplands, have these transformed into useful information packets and loaded into the RKB database (web), and undertake training with extension and others to learn how to make use of the RKB and the information available within it in their work with farmers. Find out more on the IRRI Pilot webpage.

The first meeting for the project was held February 12th 2008 at the IRRI office in Luang Prabang, Laos. The meeting was entitled “Workshop for Enhancing Knowledge Sharing in the Northern Uplands of Laos through the Laos Rice Knowledge Bank(RKB)”. The workshop brought together Lao professionals from various government departments, extension services, and academic institutes along with staff from IRRI.

The workshop involved a number of key activities.

The first exercise consisted of the building a problem tree around the process of knowledge sharing in Luang Prabang. The main problem identified was the problem of ” weak linkage between research activities and the extension service in Northern Laos”. Groups of researchers and extension workers’ came up witha list of problems and cuases according to their particular point of view. Common points raised included:

  1. absence of coordination between researchers and extension workers
  2. lack of access to information and training of extension workers
  3. inadequate material to support extension work

Sharing of knowledge between researchers and extension workers was recognised as a win-win proposition for both parties.

Following that, the workshop engaged participants in an exercise on identifying actors in knowledge sharing in Laos.

A major activity of the workshop was then to identify validated, documented and disseminated rice-based technologies. The objective was to identify technologies which the participants knew about and those they did not, those which have been written up into materials already, those which have been disseminated and are available and those not–and finally those technologies which should be included in the Laos Rice Knowledge Bank.

Finally an exercise was undertaken to trace the posisble pathways that technology may be disseminated from the Laos Rice Knowledge Bank, as a source of extension materials, mapped computer and internet access by level within key institutes and departments- being targeted as users of the RKB- and to village clusters and villages. The objective of this exercise was to identify potential points at which the extension materials my be downloaded off the internet or CD-ROMS and printed for field level staff and farmers.

This workshop was successful in bringing together relevant stakeholders and partners to discuss how to strengthen extension of research knowledge through use of the Rice Knowledge Bank.

Next steps include:

  • developing knowledge packets for all identified technologies, including translation into Laos-to be uploaded into RKB
  • formation of teams of researchers and technicians who work directly with farmer groups to advise on development of appropriate knowledge packets
  • training of extension and other personnel on the use of the RKB and technologies made available in it
  • making available up-to-date information to teaching institutions so that students can be trained using this knowledge

See Workshop report for more information.