Promoting Knowledge Exchange for Better Adaptation: opportunities with TECA
jnnam | 2012-01-28 17:01
By Andrea Rudiger, TECA (FAO)
Successful adaptation to climate change by small producers is not merely a question of developing new adaptation technologies, but depends on granting access to them. Connecting farmers, extension services, the private sector, research institutes and non-governmental organizations and promoting exchange among these actors is crucial both for the improved adoption of existing technologies, as well as for signaling demand for new ones.
TECA – a tool for knowledge exchange about applied technologies and practices
Technologies and practices for small agricultural producers, TECA (http://teca.fao.org/) is an online platform to facilitate this kind of knowledge exchange. TECA is an initiative of FAO that offers an information system for documenting and sharing applied technologies and practices for agriculture, apiculture, fisheries, natural resource management, agricultural mechanization, post-harvest handling and marketing. It also offers different web-based communication tools such as exchange groups or forums.
The TECA online platform
In TECA forums, such as the Uganda Exchange Group, users are informed about news and upcoming events on their thematic interest, and engage in moderated discussions about pressing issues pertinent to them. This way, relevant information and advice reaches those working in the field and ultimately small producers, enabling them to adapt better.
Promoting the adoption of improved seed varieties through TECA’s Uganda Exchange Group
The use of quick-maturing and high-yielding seed varieties can help farmers adapt to changing weather patterns, shorter and more unpredictable rainfall. While locally adapted varieties were developed by research institutes in many African countries, their multiplication and dissemination among farmers remains insufficient. Over the last year, this has been a re-occurring topic in the Uganda Exchange group.
In Uganda, new seed varieties developed by the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO), are expected to be multiplied and disseminated through seed companies, i.e. the formal seed market. However, Ugandan agronomists estimate that 95 per cent of seeds are supplied through informal channels and this percentage is not expected to change in the next decade.
A detailed analysis of the situation unfolded in a discussion in TECA’s Uganda Exchange Group from which the vision for a novel approach, combining formal and informal seed channels, emerged. Through this approach sustainable informal seed systems for soy beans could already be established in six pilot districts in Uganda.
This discussion had been initiated by the manager of a local NGO, puzzled by her observation of low adoption rates of improved seed varieties in Eastern Uganda. She received detailed information about successful pilots mainly in the northern part of the country and established contact with a seed systems specialist, who shared his expertise. Through TECA’s knowledge base, she also had access to a range of contributions on participatory methods for varietal selection applied for example, in Tanzania in a project supported by the UK Department for International Development (DFID).
Knowledge exchange through TECA requires commitment
The above example shows how sharing information and good practices can promote knowledge-based intervention and policy to improve the livelihoods of smallholder producers. However, the example also demonstrates the challenges TECA faces; following and engaging in discussions as a user of TECA or uploading technologies and practices as a partner of TECA require time and human resources. Commitment to TECA therefore hinges crucially on the understanding that knowledge exchange is a prerequisite for successful application of existing technologies and the development of better technologies.
To access the Uganda Exchange Group, become a member for free by registering on the TECA website http://teca.fao.org/home . You can also listen to experiences of the Uganda Exchange Group with using TECA
Andrea Rudiger and TECA team
Office of Knowledge Exchange, Research and Extension (OEKR)
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)