Collaborate, Create, Communicate

Showcasing Africa’s Agricultural Knowledge

As I write this, the AgKnowledge Africa Share Fair in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, is minutes away from kicking off. This first of its kind event in Africa has brought together about 300 innovators and leaders from across Africa to share methodologies, tools and approaches that can help stimulate the creation, sharing, communication and targeted use of agricultural knowledge, information and data to drive agricultural development across the continent.

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Addis Ababa, where the four-day Share Fair is being held, is abuzz with activity and chatter. The participants form a multi-stakeholder group that includes farmers, extension workers, rural development agents, advocacy and development NGOs, international agencies, national and international research institutes, women’s networks, academics, development projects, governments, private companies and the media. They’re all here!

It’s heartening to see so many people united with the same enthusiasm. The Fair will  cover different types of knowledge and the myriad mediums that are used to share them: oral, visual, drama, music, video, radio, documentary, publishing, storytelling, web-based, geospatial, networked, mobile, computer-based, SMS, and journalistic.  Indeed, I think we can safely say that we’ve covered all the bases in our efforts to showcase the knowledge, experience and wisdom of Africa’s farmers, producers, researchers, innovators and rural development workers.

We’ve got a great agenda lined up for the next four days. Day Zero (today) is “Learning and Training Day”, which covers hands-on training in the use of knowledge sharing tools such as online social networking media, Google tools, popular media, face-to-face knowledge sharing methods, and academic social networking using Mendeley, an online collaborative tool. Over 100 people have registered for these learning opportunities. We’ve also organized interactive sessions covering four key areas: agriculture and water; agriculture and climate change; land; and livestock. The discussions will be streamed and shared live across the internet: http://tinyurl.com/sfaddisblog and http://tinyurl.com/sfaddistweets.

A special Fair feature is an interactive open air market (the sun is shining in Addis!) that will be held on Day One (tomorrow). Participants will be able to exchange their ‘knowledge wares’, with special emphasis on rural knowledge exchange approaches drawn from rural Ethiopia. It promises to be a fun and informative afternoon.

The other two days will be devoted to discussions and focus groups covering spatial data, documenting farmers’ knowledge, and making knowledge travel, to name just a few. Check out the agenda for more details.

Other than the live streams, we’ll be blogging and Tweeting and generally reporting on the Fair as it takes place. Please visit the ICT-KM Program website for regular updates and make sure to follow the #sfaddis tag on many social networks. With over 40 social media volunteer reporters, we will do our best to make you feel like you are here without even having to travel to Addis.

Before I go, I want to acknowledge our co-sponsors: the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the IKM Emergent research initiative, the Improving Productivity and Market Success of Ethiopian Farmers project (IPMS), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the International Livestock Research Institute(ILRI), with additional support from the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ), the International Land Coalition (ILC), and numerous public, private, non-governmental organizations, and research initiatives from Africa and beyond.

It’s now zero hour on Day Zero. Got to run!

Enrica Porcari
Leader, ICT-KM Program and Chief Information Officer, CGIAR