By Victoria Mbiggidde
There is s a saying : “Knowledge is power” however for Africa, knowledge seemingly becomes a matter of life and death given its potential to lead to the transformation of the continent. Improved information organization and accessibility, more efficient collaboration in cross-divisional case teams, move from document storage to project management (task lists, calendars, links), real-time data collection, improved tracking and oversight – case and management level, more efficient decision-making, and reduced induction “learning-curve” for new staff are some of the endless benefits which come with having a knowledge management system and repositories established within agricultural organizations.
Africa needs to do more of this sharing as much as possible while learning from the success stories from its counter parts if her challenges are to be addressed. In an initiative to bridge the knowledge gap, the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) and the Center for Agriculture and Bio-sciences International (CABI) are embarking on a journey to avail as much information as possible to students in the 42 member Universities as well as the teaching staff for a rich experience and in-depth platform to draw comparisons from the continent and the world over.
The open access resources are tapped into with no cost attached for the Universities in the network, to facilitate students with readily available information whenever they need it while building a reading culture hence defying the saying “if you want to hide something from an African, write it down” which emphasizes the poor reading culture among African.
The creation of knowledge banks and databases with well analyzed and validated information by scientists act as repositories for future reference while influencing subsequent decisions and minimizing duplication saves the wastage of the already limited resources available. With such structures in place, there are known practical options for managing agricultural challenges among users including researchers, extension, traders as well as policy makers.
Having electronic document management systems answers the question of access and also the credibility of the information availed, while reducing the drowning levels of researchers in the amount of information by converting it in to knowledge. However, note should be taken that if the systems are to serve their purpose, keys features like work-flows (case management system), document libraries (documents & reports), lists (calendar; events, discussion boards), as well as corporate portal (HR, IT and finance information) must be incorporated.