Our Community Knowledge Worker (CKW) initiative, launched in Uganda in 2009, serves farmers in remote communities through a network of peer advisors. The initiative combines mobile technology and human networks to help smallholder farmers get accurate, timely information to improve their businesses and livelihoods.
Unlike other agricultural programs, our services reach the most isolated rural villages by employing a network of local advisors drawn from the communities they serve. These Community Knowledge Workers—farmers themselves—are respected in their communities and chosen by their peers. Using smartphone applications, they give their fellow farmers information on weather and marketing prices and advice on caring for their crops and animals and treating pests and diseases. They encourage their peers in the ongoing use of the applications.
In Uganda, we also collaborate with the TECA initiative of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Our Community Knowledge Workers share information on agricultural practices from TECA’s knowledge base with farmers and we also use the TECA exchange groups to review traditional farming practices that farmers have shared with our CKWs. After vetting, the practices are then added to the content library used by the Community Knowledge Workers.
From its start in Uganda, the Community Knowledge Worker initiative has been expanded to Colombia, where Grameen Foundation is working with farmers in Tibú, Santander and Salgar, Antioquia; areas that were especially hard hit during that country’s internal conflicts.
In Ghana, we are helping a cocoa farmers cooperative to manage its operations via mobile phones and provide good agricultural practices and information on pests and diseases to its members.