Experiences of RAILS Learning Teams from Ethiopia

volaryorangeManagement

Nov 6, 2013 (3 years and 9 months ago)

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Towards paradigm shift to access agricultural knowledge and technologies through learning and innovation platforms

Experiences
of RAILS Learning
Teams from Ethiopia


Abebe

kirub

abebekirub@gmail.com

1

Introduction

The

Ethiopian

RAILS

team

was

established

in

late

2010
.


The

team

is

composed

of

several

stakeholders

from

Ethiopian

agricultural

research

training/

education

and

development

actors
.


The

vision

of

the

team

is


to

see

information

and

knowledge

on

Ethiopian

agriculture

is

fully

accessed
.


Support to improve production and
productivity
(extension and development)

Support capacity building (
training and
education)

Support core business
(research)

2

RAILS
actors

The

RAILS

team

include

relevant

actors

from


Ministry

of

Agriculture,


Regional

States

Bureaues

of

Agriculture,


Zone

and

district

agricultural

development

offices
,


Agricultural

research

institutes

(at

federal

and

regional

states

levels),


Higher

learning

institutions

(with

agricultural

faculties
),

Agricultural

training

and

vocational

colleges,


Farmers

training

centers,


NGOs

(involved

in

agriculture

and

rural

development

activities),

and


Community
-
based

organizations

(within

the

spectrum

of

agricultural

development)
.



3

Assumption to establish RAILS

During

the

establishment

of

the

team

and

identification

of

potential

RAILS

member

institutions,

it

was

assumed

that

members

are

expected

to

open

up

their

information

and

knowledge

resources

for

more

access

by

all

stakeholders

(farmers,

pastoralists
,

professionals,

advocates
,

development

agents,

researchers,

and

educators
/

trainers)
.


4

Challenges

The team had experienced certain key challenges
mainly
in scaling up
of knowledge
that
can influence
knowledge transfer. These
key challenges
include,
but not limited to

Less
insight on the issues revolving around
RAILS
; especially at
middle level leaderships;

Inadequate
openness to agricultural knowledge resources from
member institutions/
organizations
;

Less
regard to
RAILS
by some individuals and institutions; who, as
a result opt for other
optional platforms (social media and
networks);

Staff
turnover/ high attrition rates of skilled staff;

Unforeseen
commitments that led to less
involved
in
group
activities
; and

Weak linkages with DONATA and RAILS (staff turnover at
DODATA side thus discontinuity of joint activities)


5

Swimming against the tide successfully

Through the team and potential multipliers’
activities, it was possible to reach about
2
-
5% (220,000
-
550,000)
of the farming
household (estimated at 11 million) and made
part of the direct benefits of the platform
outputs.

This was made possible with professional
assistance of researchers and extension
agents

A number of information and knowledge
objects were in place for a robust knowledge
transfer

Policy and development actors are in support
of the activities of RAILS where new
agricultural technologies are transferred

There is also a sign of new partnership with
industries who consume agricultural
knowledge for that domain of value
-
chain
associated with agriculture

Students of higher education are more
inclined to the activities of RAILS for the
partial completion of their graduation/
academic requirements


Several knowledge objects
such
as leaflets, posters, banners,
radio and TV broadcasts and
newspapers and magazine articles
have been used to reach the
farming and pastoralist HH

6

Major outcomes

Initiating
team spirit of agricultural information
and knowledge management
professionals

Training
web2 tools and associated ICM resources
(e
-
RAILS essentials)

Improved
science communication skills (especially,
for agricultural researchers
). One
instance among
the many includes training given to over
180
young
agricultural researchers
at federal
and regional
levels to skill up their scientific writing. The
training was mainstreamed
by modular packages
as
well as writing scientific manuscripts from a
processed or analyzed data.
Because of
this
training, between 2010 and
2012
over
37
journal
articles were published by young
researchers (
who
took the training) in reputable journals both within
the country and at international levels.
This
training
also helped researchers to train extension
agents on how to prepare effective and
functional
production
guidelines (brochures, leaflets, and
posters
).

7

Knowledge sharing and
scaling
out

The
joint activities of members were involved around
sharing of agricultural knowledge through
the
following mechanisms


Arranging
farmers
days;

Facilitating
open house activities in various
research
centers;

Supporting
agricultural
exhibitions;

Facilitating
scientific
communications;

Sharing
information and knowledge management
tools (such as KOHA,
and DSPACE
)

Arranging discussion forums; and

Online
content publication
(using
ICT in
disseminating agricultural information
and
knowledge)


Support

from

the

government

is

promising

and

maturing
.

One

of

the

expected

support

of

the

government

was

that

the

team

used

all

available

government

media

outlets

including

TV

stations,

radio

stations

(AM

and

FM)

and

the

press

extensively

free

of

charge
.

It

is

also

true

that

private

radio

stations

and

private

press

are

kind

enough

to

offer

air

time

and

space

to

transmit

agricultural

information

and

knowledge

at

a

wider

scale
.

This

shows

that

in

Ethiopia,

mass

communication

is

considering

agricultural

research

and

development

sectors

seriously
.

8

Looking ahead

The way forward to better
serve the target communities
considering a sense of paradigm
shift from earlier approach of
establishing RAILS
team will
be
done as follows:

Identifying
sources of commitment
(trustworthiness) of regularly
responding institutions and
capitalize
on their strengths;

I
dentifying
and labeling key gaps and
opportunities for a strong and
functional
RAILS
team
;

Continuous learning and assessment;
and

Recognizing best practices and
innovations

9

Research
institute

Research


project

University

Extension

Business

Partnership

Professional
association

NGO

others

Total

14

50

12

6

2

1

2

2

3

92

Target for 2014

122

15%

55%

13%

7%

2%

1%

2%

2%

3%

Research inst.
Research projects
University
Extension
Business
partnership
Professional assn
NGO
others
Organizations in e
-
RAILS

10

Best five websites on
eRAILS

portals

11

Gender balance in
eRAILS

Measurement

Male

Female

Total

No

44

9

53

%

83.02

16.98

100.00

Target for 2014 (%)

70

30

100.00

12

13