ItemWater Research & Education Network (WREN)World Ag Info Project Design Team (World Ag Info Project, 2007)The international dimensions of water problems magnify the complexity of the water problem: increased use of water from the Blue Nile in Ethiopia creates shortfalls for farmers in the Sudan and Egypt and poor farming practices in Kenya affect the fish catch in Lake Victoria by Tanzanians, Ugandans and other Kenyans. However, trans-boundary and regional water disputes are very real and merit consideration. Although the scope of the water problem is daunting, water scarcity and contamination cannot be ignored. We are proposing to develop an integrated Water Research and Education Network (WREN) that will include African universities, NGOs and government ministries in eastern and southern Africa, the region where the predictions for drought are most dire. ItemPreparing Universities in Africa and Asia for the New AgricultureWorld Ag Info Project Design Team (World Ag Info Project, 2007)This project has four interconnected components: the first is helping universities and consortia of universities in Africa and South Asia prepare a landscape analysis of the magnitude and country-specific challenges and funding levels to address the issues surrounding the New Agriculture. The second component is to lay out the types of Business Education training that is needed at different levels of the educational ladder for extension workers, and smallholder farmers and input and marketing agencies. The third is to lay out the types of ICT training modules about the New Agriculture that are needed to train extension workers, smallholders, private firms and the Third Sector. The fourth objective is to request bottom up proposals of how public and private universities in Africa plan to respond to the New Agriculture and to increase their emphasis on graduate training within Africa because of the rising cost of overseas graduate education. ItemMarket and Technology Led Curriculum Enhancement at Agricultural Education Institutions in Africa and South AsiaWorld Ag Info Project Design Team (World Ag Info Project, 2007)Fund partnerships between selected US and overseas universities to support the transformation of existing undergraduate curriculum in Africa and S. Asia through 1) the development of a series of curricular modules to address the business, market and supply chain information needs of 21st century smallholders, 2) foster the introduction and expansion of experiential learning as part of the educational experience of undergraduate students, and 3) train master trainers to assist in the deployment of these new curricular features. ItemDeveloping Online and Offline Textbook Collections to Support Agricultural CurriculaWorld Ag Info Project Design Team (World Ag Info Project, 2007)In many agricultural universities and colleges in the developing world, students do not have adequate access to textbooks for their courses, and often have to wait in long lines at library reserve desks to borrow the few available copies of the textbook. In some cases even the professor must use the library’s copy to prepare his or her lectures, although the available copies are often seriously out of date. Indian universities have addressed this problem to some extent through textbook “rental” centers, which collect a small fee from students for the use of a text for the semester. Applying this model in the electronic environment offers the potential to create digital collections of textbooks which could be made available for a small fee per student. Two types of texts could be added to this collection: 1) textbooks owned and distributed by publishers in electronic form where rights and fees have been negotiated; and 2) open access wikibook content developed by agricultural faculty, students and extension staff. Textbooks in these collections would be distributed to students either on inexpensive laptops (note: partnering with the One Laptop per Child program is one possible model), or content and delivery developed in conjunction with one of the new e-book reader development efforts, e.g. SONY Reader. ItemFive Skill Sets to Develop the Capacity of Women Farmers to Demand and Use Extension InformationWorld Ag Info Project Design Team (World Ag Info Project, 2007)Solution Scenario Concept: Women smallholders in developing countries produce an estimated 70 percent of food from semi-subsistence farms, own 1% of land and receive 5-7 percent of extension services. Including women as a minimum number of beneficiaries in extension services will not redress gender inequities in access to reliable to information because women farmers’ needs are so different ffrom the neds of men farmers. Men and women often grow different crops, have different responsibilities in production and marketing, apply different cultivation technologies, and have different objectives for using their produce. Moreover, women play different roles along the marketing chain, as producers, consumers, traders, laborers and retailers of agricultural supplies and their needs for extsnion information are not uniform. The hypothesis of this note is that meeting women smallholders diverse needs for agricultural information requires extension services to establish an on-farm, participatory adaptive research service that generates recommendations developed with and validated by women in all these different capacities. This Solution will harness the proven power of women’s self-help groups as a foundation for woman-centered agricultural extension. ItemDeveloping the capacity of extension officers and their organizations to train, work with and support women farmersWorld Ag Info Project Design Team (World Ag Info Project, 2007)Solution Scenario Concept: Extension systems’ widespread neglect of women farmers can be reversed through changes in attitudes of extension personnel and the structures and processes within agricultural institutions to assist them to become accountable to women farmers. While there is ample evidence that women extension professionals are more effective than male professionals in communicating and servicing women farmers, the small numbers of women extension agents (a global average of 15 % according to FAO) requires a strategy that enables male agents to service women farmers as well. This requires a two pronged approach that: builds the skills and changes attitudes of the professionals; and facilitates a process of organizational change to create an enabling environment that supports gender equity and is responsive to the needs of women farmers. Skill building for female and male extension officers on gender, leadership, negotiation, adult literacy, information management, communication and training can develop their abilities to train, work with and support women farmers while simultaneously acting as internal change agents to facilitate processes of change within their organizations. Our hypotheses is that both men and women extension professionals, if provided with suitable, gender-sensitive organizational support, skills and ICT resources, and made accountable for reaching women farmers will deliver better services to women farmers and groups. This Solution would transform existing extension systems to be accountable to women farmers. ItemThe Economic Empowerment of Women in Agriculture in Africa and South AsiaWorld Ag Info Project Design Team (World Ag Info Project, 2007-10-26)Solution Scenario Concept: The male bias in the gender mix in Africa’s agricultural institutions is sobering. In ten countries in Africa, 90 percent or more of the agricultural scientists are male (Figure 1). Moreover, the research and knowledge base on how to help increase the economic empowerment of women in Africa is patchy even though women are major producers of food crops, important traders in local markets and diligent workers in non farm employment. Part of this reason for the gender gap is a carry over from early gender research that focused on whether women worked longer hours than men and whether they gained or lost in the commercialization of farming. For example, when Ester Boserup published her path–breaking book Woman’s Role in Economic Development (1970), she charged that women “lose in the development process” because agricultural development projects can lead to an increase in women’s work load and a reduction in the workload of men. But Boserup’s assertion was not supported by rigorous empirical research. To test the Boserup hypothesis, Spencer (1976) carried out a study of an agricultural development project in Sierra Leone and found that the new technology increased women’s work load slightly but the increase was much less than the increase in the workload of adult males and children. Spencer rejected Boserup’s emphasis on the number of hours worked and called for research on the returns per hour of work and the profitability of farming. But after decades of research, there is a lack of understanding on how to help rural women gain economic empowerment through three pathways out of poverty: farming, rural nonfarm employment and migration to market towns and cities. ItemOff the Grid but in the Know: Advancement through Interactive RadioWorld Ag Info Project Design Team (World Ag Info Project, 2007)Solution Scenario Concept: Many rural communities in Africa still do not have reliable cellular or electrical service, thus members of these communities cannot meaningfully use Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) to aid advancement. In addition, women in rural communities face gendered barriers to the access and use of ICT-based development initiatives. The AIR (Advancement through Interactive Radio) project seeks to advance women in rural agricultural communities by adding interactivity to community radio. AIR gives community radio listeners, especially women, a voice with which to respond to development programming (such as agricultural extension programs), as well as a mechanism to participate in the creation of programming content. The AIR project is based upon the premise, grounded in development communications theory, that enabling women to publically articulate what they know, and what they wish to know, will advance community development strategies and increase the stature of women in the community. This objective is widely acknowledged as a key component to sustainable development. ItemUsing Video to Improve Information and Knowledge Flows From and Among SmallholdersWorld Ag Info Project Design Team (World Ag Info Project, 2007)Solution Scenario Concept: Use the medium of video to convey local information, knowledge, experiences, and needs from small-scale farmers to a broad audience of extension workers, researchers, NGOs, policy makers, and other farmers. The model outlined here provides a way to scale up the local use of video made by farmers as an effective tool for giving “voice” to smallholders. ItemCommunity Radio 2.0World Ag Info Project Design Team (World Ag Info Project, 2007)Solution Scenario Concept: Extend the Web 2.0 paradigm to the use of Community Radio for the acquisition and dissemination of agricultural related information and education. The basic concept is to provide user generated content (UCG) mechanisms to enhance the use of community radio as a social network. ItemDeveloping, Sharing and Delivering Smallholder RadioAgInfo ContentWorld Ag Info Project Design Team (World Ag Info Project, 2007)Solution Scenario Concept: Programming partnerships will be developed with existing community radio systems. Agricultural personnel from nearby agricultural institutions (e.g. higher education, governmental agencies, extension models, etc.), both faculty and students, will be recruited to participate in the development of content in a variety of formats and lengths from 30 seconds to 1 hour radio programs focused on community agricultural needs. The program content will be archived in English or other base languages in addition to being presented in the dominant local languages. This RadioAgInfo bank will be available to share across countries and regions. Programs will use a variety of formats including storytelling and “call-in” radio to allow local smallholder farmers to interact with the information using a variety of technologies and survey techniques and request specific program content. Archiv ItemUsing participatory radio and video to extend reach of agricultural extension activitiesWorld Ag Info Project Design Team (World Ag Info Project, 2007)Solution Scenario Concept: Our concept is to advocate the use of locally recorded video and audio, dispersed through “mediated instruction”, integrated with existing extension systems. Because audio-visual formats are likely preferred to mostly illiterate, visually-oriented groups, the idea is to encourage the use of audio (radio) and video (using the combination of DVD players and TVs) to reach out to farmers. “Mediated instruction” is a particular use of video and audio in educational contexts, where a facilitator, who is not necessarily a subject matter expert, is present to pause playback, ask questions, encourage discussion, and otherwise provoke participation. It is known to be a very effective use of recorded media for education. Finally, by building on extension systems, we take advantage of existing social networks that farmers already have. It is a known sociological phenomenon, that uptake of new ideas happens through social networks, traveling between social connections. Thus, the idea is to use content generated with local farmers as subjects as a means of advocacy. Such a system could serve as a collaborative platform for exchanging locally relevant media using a digital pipeline comprised of cost-realistic technologies. Radio and video then becomes a mechanism to capitalize on natural social dynamics to amplify a single extension worker’s ability to evangelize agricultural practices. ItemCommunicating agricultural information via cell phones (World Ag Cell Phone)World Ag Info Project Design Team (World Ag Info Project, 2007)Solution Scenario Concept: Communicate agricultural information via cell phones. Content would be collected from a variety of agricultural information sources and then distributed through local cell phone networks. Some of the possible services that could offer are: soil testing system, market information via SMS, automated agricultural answering system, and agricultural information audio and video downloads. ItemDelivering Non-Academic Agricultural Content to Support Agricultural Extension ActivitiesWorld Ag Info Project Design Team (World Ag Info Project, 2007)Solution Scenario Concept: Extension agents and NGO workers need access to reliable agricultural information if rural livelihoods of small-holder farmers in Africa and Asia are to improve. Information does exist, but it is typically in English-language scientific publications that are inaccessible to non- English speakers, and those who are not highly trained scientists. Further, these as well as extension publications are not easily or widely available. Thus, even trained personnel who might bridge the gap between knowledge creation and its local application by small-holder farmers do not have the information to effectively do this. A model is proposed that involves personnel with agricultural expertise working with agricultural program graduates to make scientific knowledge more accessible to such “bridge workers” in the agricultural sector. In addition, community-based findings of local significance and applicability would also be included for dissemination by extension and other agricultural sector workers. Such information would be organized on a website, but would also be available in a variety of formats, including other, non-internet formats (CDROM or hard drives), video/audio (via TV, radio, phone), and paper. The information needs to be regularly updated material that is location and need-specific, multi-lingual, and visual to accommodate the varying literacy levels of farmers. It needs to be accessible and relevant to women who are the majority of small-holder farmers in Africa and Asia ItemExpanding African Access to Global Scientific Literature in Agriculture, Environment and HealthWorld Ag Info Project Design Team (World Ag Info Project, 2007)Since 1999, several free or low-cost electronic scientific journal delivery programs have been implemented to close the serious information gap in food, agriculture, health and medicine. They make available to teaching and research institutions in 114 of the world’s poorest nations the equivalent to a research library with the highest quality journal content. These inter-related programs include: 1) TEEAL (The Essential Electronic Agricultural Library) [www.teeal.org]; 2) AGORA (Access to Global Online Research in Agriculture) [www.aginternetwork.org]; 3) HINARI (Health Internetwork Access to Research Initiative) [www.who.int/hinari]; and 4) OARE (Online Access to Research in the Environment) [www.oaresciences.org]; aka (T/A/H/O). Where scientists have access, these programs are having a transformative impact on research and education.1 However, in most African countries, lack of Internet connectivity, inadequate bandwidth, no or reduced library budgets, and low information literacy skills among librarians, faculty and students limit full use. To increase access to and use of these powerful research and education tools, the current successful inter-agency model of T/A/H/O capacity building coordinated, by the South Africa-based Information Training and Outreach Centre for Africa (ITOCA), will be scaled up over five years with existing and new partners. Existing partners include FAO, WHO, UNEP, Cornell, Yale and Michigan State universities, CTA, INASP, ILRI and the publishers who provide the content. All training is carried out in partnership with local universities or institution. Major components would include: 1) Distribution of LanTEEAL sets (200-400 depending on funding) with necessary backstopping and peripherals; 2) Eight 3-day national Train-the-Trainers workshops per year in English, French and Portuguese depending on the country; 4) Equipping Regional Training Hubs in East and West Africa to carry out more tailored and advanced institutional training; 5) Higher level Agricultural Information Literacy training to expand the core of African library professionals able to teach digital literacy skills in agricultural sciences and assist in integrating information literacy into university curricula, with special reference to such initiatives as e-Agriculture, AGRIS, etc. ItemBuilding Online Delivery Systems and Repositories for Agricultural University/Extension Publications and JournalsWorld Ag Info Project Design Team (World Ag Info Project, 2007)Solution Scenario Concept: Most newly published material is in electronic format in much of N. America and Europe. Even when a print version is available, the original is electronic. This is common even for small publishers, academic society publications, and extension material. However, print is often still the norm for much of the rest of the world, limiting access to materials. Access to extension materials, agricultural journals, and historical agricultural material of relevance to African and Asian agriculture will be improved by conversion to electronic format. To further support wide usage, a delivery platform that supports multiple languages will be chosen. ItemCreating and Operating National Agricultural Information Exchange PointsWorld Ag Info Project Design Team (World Ag Info Project, 2007)Solution Scenario Concept: Create and operate a national information exchange point (NIXP). This service would collect currently existing domestic agricultural information and help in the production additional agricultural content suited for the national audience. In countries where an IXP (Internet Exchange Point) exist, a hosting site connected to this national backbone would be created. In less advantaged nations, the content would be hosted at all the significant ISPs (Internet Service Providers). ItemEstablishing reliable high speed Internet access at agricultural universities in Africa: the Ubuntu-Net modelWorld Ag Info Project Design Team (World Ag Info Project, 2007)Solution Scenario Concept: Inadequate access to Internet bandwidth prevents universities and technical training institutions from gaining access to existing high quality online content. Many universities and training institutions in developing countries can not afford the cost of Internet bandwidth. Bandwidth is too little, too expense and ineffectively managed for many developing country institutions. To date several initiatives have proved the power of consortia in bringing down bandwidth costs and delivering affordable internet in developing countries. The UbuntuNet Alliance www.ubuntunet.net is a recent initiative to establish national interinstitutional collaborative platforms in the education and research community in Sub-Sahara Africa (SSA). UbuntuNet Alliance was established to capitalise on the emergence of optical fibre and other terrestrial infrastructure opportunities and thus become the Research and Education Network (REN) backbone of Africa. Country level initiatives called National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) in Southern and East Africa have drastically improved internet connectivity for the research and education community in the region through the ‘bandwidth buying consortia’ consortia and effective management of the available bandwidth opening access to high quality online content to the sector. This proposal is to further fund the building of this model in SSA and South Asia in order to provide high speed internet connectivity to researchers, faculty and students. ItemEnhancing innovation capacity and market access of smallholder potato and sweetpotato farmers and vegetable growers in East and Southern AfricaWorld Ag Info Project Design Team (World Ag Info Project, 2007)Solution Scenario Concept: The purpose of the project is to improve the market access by smallholder potato and sweetpotato farmers and vegetable growers by fostering market-chain innovation to improve competitiveness of market chains in ways that benefit small farmers as well as other market chain actors in East and Southern Africa. The projects intends to achieve this by producing the following four outputs: (1) new market opportunities for potatoes, sweetpotatoes and other vegetables benefiting small farmers identified and taken up; (2) improved entrepreneurial, organizational and technical capacity of groups of farmers to identify and respond to new business opportunities; (3) strengthened capacity of service providers to respond dynamically to farmers’ needs in a market chain context; and (4) enhanced social capital to support market chains, build trust between actors, share knowledge and promote South-South learning. ItemCreating and Operating WorldAgInfo System (WAgIS)World Ag Info Project Design Team (World Ag Info Project, 2007)Solution Scenario Concept: Create and operate an Internet based multimedia agricultural database designed to support user-created content and feedback. The system, called “WorldAgInfo System” or “WAgIS,” will incorporate features found in Wikipedia, FaceBook, YouTube, and eBay. WAgIS will be extended beyond all of these systems in that it will accommodate interfaces for illiterate users and incorporate content delivery options oriented to the conditions found in South Asia and Africa.