04 October 2007

Farmer-led documentation

As part of the e-agriculture week in Rome (September 2007), PROLINNOVA, IAALD, and FAO sponsored a session on 'Farmer-Led Documentation: Local knowledge sharing in an agricultural context.'

Farmer-led documentation was defined as an empowering process in which local communities take the lead role in facilitating farmer-to-farmer knowledge sharing, as well as in exchanging information between communities and development agencies and policymakers.

At the session held on Friday 28 September, five case studies were presented as background for a general discussion. These case studies included: Using Digital Cameras in Bolivia and South Africa; a Question and Answer Service in Uganda; a program for Documenting Traditional Knowledge; Community Biodiversity Registers; and Facilitating the Process of Documentation in the Field. Short summaries of the cases are on the wiki: http://fldsept2007rome.pbwiki.com.

Key themes identified included (1) understanding local context; (2) building on
existing communication channels; (3) focusing on community-based and farmer-led approaches; (4) facilitating ownership for development activities; and (5) empowering local communities.

Challenges included: (1) costs and maintenance of technology; (2) intellectual property rights; (3) incentives for community participation; (4) appropriate and sustainable communication mechanisms; (5) scaling up pilot projects; (6) quality assurance of information; and (7) capacity building that includes time for “play” and greater familiarization with technologies.

contributed by Barbara Hutchinson


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