Collaborate, Create, Communicate

Finding the right pathways for making ‘Rice Advice’ Available, Accessible and Applicable

During the week of  15-18 February 2011, I visited the Africa Rice Center in Cotonou, Benin, and found out that they are doing a lot to make ‘rice advice’ available, accessible and applicable. I also discussed additional pathways to make this vital rice knowledge travel.





During the week of  15-18 February 2011, I visited the Africa Rice Center in Cotonou, Benin, and found out that they are doing a lot to make ‘rice advice’ available, accessible and applicable. I also discussed additional pathways to make this vital rice knowledge travel.

As its new name (previously known as WARDA) suggests, the Africa Rice Center is focused on generating data, information and knowledge on rice, particularly with regard to the continent of Africa. However, it is also trying to find the right pathways to share its ‘rice advice’.

Sharing knowledge, skills and experiences from the ICT-KM Program and others

I was kindly invited to the Africa Rice Center to showcase, provide training and discuss some of the knowledge sharing tools that the ICT-KM Program and other Centers and programs have developed and tested, and are using.

In an introductory seminar on ‘How knowledge management and sharing can help research’, I showed a hard-hitting film highlighting the need for better research communication, introduced the Triple A Framework, guided them through the Knowledge Sharing in Research Framework as a way of choosing appropriate tools to use, and showcased a number of knowledge sharing tools and methods available to help improve communication and collaboration in their research activities. Some examples included:

  • To improve the collaboration and sharing within teams, I introduced participants to the array of Google Apps on CGXchange, and private microblogging through Yammer, and showed them how to schedule an event using Doodle (a tutorial in our new How Can I… series).
  • To better engage with stakeholders, I suggested the use of the vast number of knowledge sharing tools and methods available on the KS Toolkit, any one of which can help make face-to-face and virtual ‘meetings’ more effective.
  • To help communicate information ABOUT our projects, I presented the CGIAR Ongoing Research Map and a wide range of social media tools that offer innovative ways to gain visibility and share what’s going on.
  • To enhance the communication of the actual research, which is usually written up in formal journal articles, I presented academic social networking in the form of Mendeley, strategies for opening access to research outputs such as CG Books and Creative Commons, examples of open access repositories such as ILRI’s Mahider using Dspace, and also options for sharing datasets and their metadata.
  • To go a step further to making research knowledge more applicable in formats that various stakeholders can make use of, I talked about re-packaging and ‘translation’ into various products, using channels such as radio and film, translation into different languages, and even innovative face-to-face interactions like dialogues, Learning Alliances, etc.

Making rice advice travel

Africa Rice website sharing options
Africa Rice website sharing options

The Africa Rice Center, particularly through its website, is doing a lot to make its rice research outputs both available and accessible. The Publications tab on the website opens you up to a wide range of products including technical reports, research briefs, conference proceedings and more.

By embracing new social media tools, the Africa Rice Center is also making itself more visible, reaching out to others and communicating its research in a more innovative way. You can find out what Africa Rice and its projects are doing on its blog, through Twitter and even on FaceBook.

Making rice advice applicable

While many of the Centers and Programs we work with across the CGIAR are focused more on making improvements in the first two A’s – Availability and Accessibility – leaving the Applicability goal for later, I felt that the Africa Rice Center was a bit different. Although they are, of course, concerned and working towards making their rice data, information and knowledge more Available and Accessible, they are also already very focused on how to make all of their knowledge applicable to the various stakeholders wiith whom they interact and aim to target. This is evident in the interesting set of work they are carrying out and products they are developing to share their ‘rice advice’ in ways that different people can understand and make use of, such as

Rice advice videos
Rice advice videos

But what was most interesting to me was the different formats of rice-guides that they are developing as the pathways for sharing their rice advice, including:

And they provide most of these in at least two languages: English and French!

So by strengthening their current approaches and starting to take on board some additional tools and methods, Africa Rice is working towards finding the right pathways to make their ‘rice advice’ truly available, accessible and APPLICABLE in order to achieve their mission:

to contribute to poverty alleviation and food security in Africa, through research, development and partnership activities aimed at increasing the productivity and profitability of the rice sector in ways that ensure the sustainability of the farming environment (Africa Rice Mission Statement)

Photo credit: Thumbnail Uploaded by Tmou at http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1308359