10 January 2008

Knowledge management for agricultural innovation in Bolivia

A paper in the December 2007 issue of the KM4Development Journal explores how different agricultural innovation projects in Bolivia promote different modalities of knowledge management.

Two of the cases involved multiple KM agents (in an innovation system) and results show that these are "relatively more successful than traditional technology transfer projects." "Projects that promote traditional technology transfer and do not tap into the capacities of a mix of actors appear to be less successful."

Results also indicate that the adoption of innovations by an individual farmer is partly "determined by the knowledge management modalities of the project" as well as the "degree of embeddedness of the farmer in local innovation and learning networks."

The starting point for the work described was the recognition that knowledge "cannot be easily generated in research organizations, and passed down to extension services and development projects which diffuse it among farmers." Different, more participatory multi-actor models of communication, knowledge sharing and learning are needed. In Bolivia, SIBTA (the Sistema Boliviano de Tecnología Agropecuaria) has experimented with different ways to "diffuse technological innovations among small farmers propagating the concept of markets for local knowledge." Some of the projects supported by SIBTA were the cases for this article.

The paper shows that farmers need intensive relationships with many different sources of advice and knowledge, rather than relying on a 'single-source' agent. This implies that farmers need capacities to 'manage' the various different sources. According to the authors, promoters and financiers of agricultural innovation should "foster interactive learning among farmers and other agents" ... setting up of knowledge exchange and learning platforms, and providing access to the creation and communication of tacit knowledge.


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