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Enhancing farmers’ access to information in Africa

AFAAS / Uganda - Development of a web-based knowledge platform for collection, compilation, categorization, and dissemination of agricultural related information.

SDG 15 - Life On Land

Project Detail

Background

To create an inclusive information management system among stakeholders of the Farm Field School (FFS) program, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Eastern Africa seeks to establish a web-based knowledge platform for collection, compilation, categorisation, and dissemination of FS related information. The Farmer Field School (FFS) was a project initiated by the FAO in 1989 to train rice farmers in Indonesia on integrated pest management (IPM) as part of their National IPM Programme. This project was successful in helping to control rice pests and was quickly expanded to other countries in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America.

The expansion of the FFS program broadened its scope beyond IPM to cover other types of agricultural production and incorporate socio-ecological aspects. In Africa, the FFS approach was introduced to Kenya in 1995 under the Special Programme for Food Security. Over the years, Governments and development partners in several countries in the region have developed different approaches to the FS program. Though the FAO website has a repository database and an information hub of the FFS program on their website, there is a need to concretise local and regional experiences through an all-inclusive information knowledge management platform. This will assist all stakeholders in various tasks ranging from operational planning, implementation, and documentation for the assessment of performed fieldwork, and enhance networking and sharing of knowledge and expertise across programmes, actors, and countries. The African Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services (AFAAS) also sought to expand the use of the portal to strengthen agricultural advisory services in Africa.

Solution

Considering this, the African Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services (AFAAS) contracted the Bewsys to scale the information knowledge management platform developed for the FFS program, and establish the needed system modifications. In satisfying the requirements needed to create the management platform, the technical team collated data from FS experts and resource persons. This data formed the foundation of creating a user-friendly database repository on a regional basis.

This database included detailed information to help map and track FS facilitators. The web-based information portal was built based on the system administration, document library, and integrated content management modules of the Bewsys Regulatory MIS. The system was designed to feature the expansion requirements of AFAAS, the ongoing ad-hoc networking, and sharing of knowledge and expertise across programmes, actors, and countries through virtual discussion forums on the platform.

A mobile-friendly version of the web-based information portal was considered in the design process. Updating of content by designated users and search engine optimisation to identify documents easily were also considered. A user management system was featured to manage all user account types and enable a user forum for surveys, online discussion groups, notifications, and relevant analytics. 

Impact

The web-based information management system has increased AFAAS’ ability to effectively strengthen agricultural extension and advisory services in Africa. More stakeholders have been networking and sharing expertise through regional events announced on the platform.

Collection and dissemination of FS related and agricultural extension information have been made easier. This is contributing to promoting food security programs, improving the standard of living of farmers, and protecting the environment through sustainable farming practices.

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