Ethiopia eRAILS Experience

Report
Experiences of RAILS Learning
Teams from Ethiopia
Abebe kirub
[email protected]
Towards paradigm shift to access agricultural knowledge and technologies through learning and innovation platforms
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 25% (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;
Identifying and labeling key gaps and
opportunities for a strong and
functional RAILS team;
Continuous learning and assessment;
and
Recognizing best practices and
innovations
9
Organizations in e-RAILS
1%
2%
2% 2% 3%
15%
7%
Research inst.
Research projects
University
Extension
Business
partnership
Professional assn
NGO
others
13%
55%
Research
institute
14
Research
project
50
University Extension Business
12
6
2
Target for 2014
Partnership
1
Professional
association
2
NGO
others
Total
2
3
92
122
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

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