02 December 2006

Blending knowledge systems for agricultural research

Knowledge 'blending' for agricultural research was a focus of discussions within the recent GFAR Triennial Conference in India. With support from the CGIAR ICT-KM Program, the session also used an innovative blend of knowledge sharing approaches to maximize participation.

According to the report of the session on 'blending knowledge systems for an inclusive approach to innovation', challenges in this area include: Poor integration, communication and interaction of potential partners in agricultural research; local knowledge and local research systems not being recognised by other actors in agricultural researrch; and that agricultural education systems do not meet the needs of the different stakeholders. Furthermore, there is a need to respect local knowledge, recognize the important roles of intermediaries between researchers and farmers, and ensure that research design takes farmers' interests and knowledge into consideration.

In terms of actions, participants called for all stakeholders to "document success stories" on, for example, change in agricultural education and support systems including ICT and farmer information systems, and partnerships involving local and outside knowledge systems, with attention to role of intermediaries. It was suggested that a key way to document these stories is through multi-stakeholder workshops and platforms at global, regional and subregional levels.

The knowledge sharing process used in the session was also innovative. An article by Nathan Russell in the CGIAR ICT-KM Newsletter describes the approaches used as well as some of the recommendations emerging. According to Russell: "Participants in the session were thus clear about what they thought should be done to foster knowledge blending in agricultural research." On the process used, "many felt the meeting was well organized and facilitated... Most important, though, they appreciated the opportunity to view the issues from multiple viewpoints and then move from talk to action through collective formulation of recommendations."


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