Collaborate, Create, Communicate

From the Roots, From the Stars – Scaling Up and Out

Link to Original Post written by Sibiry Traore on AgCommons

Some time back, we argued against top‐down approaches. But we also said that fruitful knowledge exchange was a two‐way street. Confused? Clarification: Roots for RelevanceStars to Scale up.

We want STRONG ROOTS to grow from the bottom up. Like Honorables Mamadou Simpara and Sounkoutoun Sissoko , MPs for Banamba and Diema Districts, Mali. They will champion VHRI for smallholders in the October session of the Malian Parliament. Like Lassi Dembélé , Counselor to the Mayor, Sukumba. He catalyzes village assemblies like no one. Like Mamadou Doumbia, Head of the Soil‐Water‐Plant Lab, IER. Against the odds, he nurtured the unconventional SotubaGIS adventure inside IER since 2000.

We also want BRIGHT STARS to accelerate the momentum. Like Kofi Annan, Board Chair of AGRA. Like Modibo Sibid’e, Prime Minister of Mali. Like Agathane AgAlassane , Minister of Agriculture, Mali. Like Tiémoko Sangaré, Minister of Environment, Mali. Because from a star’s viewpoint, you get a better sense of the bigger picture, and you can level obstacles and pave the way. Like Digital Globe, a world leader in Earth observation, who pledged to cover 100 smallholder communities in a Mali pilot with WorldView‐2 imagery,“IMMEDIATELY IF WE LIKE – including automatic smallholder fields extraction, etc. Like aWhere Inc., a scalable, enterprise location intelligence solutions provider that delivers, in real time via internet and mobile networks, powerful VHRI‐ and weather‐based information instrumental to smallholders.

And then we want those who are simultaneously roots and stars in their own right. Like Haby Diawara, who burst in tears with her community hosts at the end of a life‐changing on‐farm experience in Fansirakoro. There she learned, the hard way, for the first time, the real underpinnings of smallholder agriculture – pieces of knowledge she ironically never really received during a land use planning degree at the University. Like Amadou Doumbia and Ouleymatou Sy Savané, who carried on with field work in a dramatic 198 mm rainfall season precursor to Niger’s 2010 food crisis. For they are the harbingers of the human interface between smallholders and satellites, a new critical link inside the information and knowledge chain. Because (let’s not forget it) agriculture in the Tropics may be the most information‐intensive endeavor one can possibly imagine(1). Yet, derelict extension services and technology bottlenecks impede free information flow. Because (let’s not forget it) one of the most severe reasons for poverty is WAITING(2).  SO WHAT?

So when Kofi Annan visited us today with Modibo Sidibé, Agathane Ag Alassane and Tiemoko Sangaré, we gave them glimpses of our vision. A VISION that takes into account the Federal grants of US$ 3+ billion attributed to each of the rivals, Digital Globe and GeoEye, earlier this month. Because the U.S. Government realizes now that VHRI is so valuable that they will make sure that this public service capacity exists in the future, through dynamic business competition – just like Boeing – Airbus. A VISION that builds on Mali’s Agence pour la Promotion de l’Emploi des Jeunes (APEJ) to build the agricultural extension services of the future – literally, a national AGCorps(and, by the same way, seamless community‐level AGStatistics). A VISION that recognizes that the extraordinary potential of public‐private partnerships readily applies to spatial knowledge engineering and delivery, and that innovating geospatial brokers such as AGCommons can translate that potential into impacts. A VISION that finally states that Very High Resolution for Smallholders is a HUGE springboard for Africa’s Green Revolutions. Because it essentially lays the foundation of tomorrow’s agricultural information systems.

Do YOU get it? Because here at SotubaGIS, 7°55’ W – 12°39’ N, we do. And we’re on a mission. And we know you’re coming with us: