FAO AND GRAMEEN FOUNDATION INFORM FARMERS USING SMARTPHONES
FAO and the Grameen Foundation teamed up to help farmers in Uganda. Specially programmed smart phones have been distributed among rural villages across 35 districts of the country, with the goal of providing farmers access to relevant, timely information on agricultural technologies and practices for smallholders.
FAO, through its TECA (Technologies and Practices for Small Agricultural Producers), identifies, collects and maintains a knowledge base of farmer validated technologies and practices in agriculture, livestock, fisheries and forestry from FAO and partner organizations. The Grameen Foundation Uganda uses this knowledge base to provide tailor-made information and advisory services to farmers through a distributed network of Community Knowledge Brokers.
There are currently 950 of Grameen Foundation's Knowledge Brokers in farming communities providing outreach using smart phones to over 130,000 farmers in 35 districts. The smart phones have an in-built software that provides reliable information on animal and crop production, markets, weather conditions, farm inputs, among others, of which 45% of the data are obtained from TECA's knowledge base.
The TECA knowledge base is unique in the sense that it contains very practical information presented in non-academic language and using multimedia (video, audio, images and text), besides to maintain a tool for discussions where users share and exchange knowledge.
Feedback expressed by users of TECA in Uganda was positive. There was a general consensus that TECA database was accessible and understandable, and that information was timely and effective. According to Mawanda Bridget, a knowledge broker for the Grameen Foundation, "information provided by TECA comes in a non-scientific language and it is easy to repackage. Besides that, sources are very reliable". Nsamba Andrew, member of the NGO MUWRP, claimed that TECA has done a great service for his community: "this platform has been of great help because through TECA you can get other information you need in the field from other sources who are specifically experts in such fields''.
After the successful pilot program in Uganda, the collaboration between FAO and the Grameen Foundation on knowledge sharing using the TECA platform might be expanded to other countries where the Grameen is present with similar networks.