Evaluating knowledge sharing in research: the International Farmers’ Conference organized at ICARDA
Keywords:knowledge management, development, local knowledge, knowledge sharing, international conferences, farmers
AbstractThe objective of this paper is to describe the process and the results of the evaluation of the knowledge sharing (KS) during and after an International Farmers’ Conference organized at the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) and involving over 50 farmers and researchers from Algeria, Canada, Egypt, Eritrea, France, Iran, Italy, Jordan, and Syria. Storytelling was chosen by the participants, who set the agenda of the topics to be discussed, as the main framework to exchange farmers’ knowledge. The evaluation was based on the anecdotal feedback from the participants gathered during the conference, shortly after the conference, and about a year later and on a questionnaire distributed to 64 non-participating farmers to evaluate the diffusion of the knowledge shared at the conference and its effect on farmers’ practices. The narratives that were collected in the evaluation were grouped into categories that illustrate several dimensions of impact such as: acquired knowledge and practices, value added for participants, learning and dissemination of knowledge, network sustainability, change in perception of gender roles, impact on research and effectiveness of KS tools approach. The main results from the survey including participants and non-participants were that 57% of participants (respondents) changed their agricultural practices, all respondents told stories about the conference to others; 71% changed their mind about women’s knowledge and role in agriculture, and over three quarters stayed in touch with one or more participants. While storytelling proved an effective means to facilitate knowledge sharing during and after the Conference, documenting local knowledge remains a challenge as important exchanges might occur outside the formal presentations.
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