Building Synergies Across EWS-KT
Meeting Together in Siem Reap
In mid-June, our Technical Support Hub, Digital Media, and Data teams came together for a multi-day workshop in Siem Reap, Cambodia, with a focus on learning, discussion, and cross-country sharing. Every country in which we work—Bangladesh, Cambodia, Ghana, India, Indonesia (Yayasan Bina Tani Sejahtera), Myanmar, Nigeria, the Philippines, Tanzania, and Uganda—was represented on each team, facilitating the exchange of ideas and best practices.
This was the first time all three teams convened in the same place and time. The aim was to synergize these core teams’ efforts, creativity, and problem solving to improve efficiency and strengthen collaboration across East-West Seed Knowledge Transfer Foundation.
Enhancing Technical Expertise & Tools
The Technical Support Hub team, which provides expert technical farming guidance and advice to staff, farmers, and other stakeholders, opened the workshop with a training in drip irrigation and fertigation (the practice of fertilizing crops through an irrigation system).
First, the team headed to the field to visit four EWS-KT farmers in Siem Reap who are already practicing drip irrigation and fertigation. The Technical Support Hub members toured the farms and interviewed the farmers about their experiences with these technologies. The next day’s training, led by Herman de Putter from our partner Wageningen University & Research, concentrated on the science behind these methods, introducing the team to the technical specifications, calculations, and conversions needed to master the complexities of effective drip irrigation and fertigation.
The Technical Support Hub team also visited the learning farm in Siem Reap, discussing the action research being undertaken there and learning more about vermicomposting, green manuring, and tomato grafting.
One objective for the Technical Support Hub team was to begin the development of an EWS-KT field decision tool for farmers’ crop demonstration plots. The field decision tool aims to guide the technical field staff in making tailored recommendations to farmers. During the workshop, the team brainstormed about three main technical points—selection of crops and varieties, land preparation, and sowing and seedling production. They will now conduct similar exercises with local field staff and selected farmers to gain more insights to be used in developing the field decision tool.
The Digital Media and Data teams arrived one day after the Technical Support Hub team, eager to meet in person to share ideas and learn from each other.
Reaching Farmers Through Multiple Media Platforms
The Digital Media team explored new avenues for expanding EWS-KT’s reach to smallholder vegetable farmers through digital and other media channels. The innovative ideas shared by the Digital Media Coordinators from each country sparked exciting discussions, paving the way for new digital and non-digital media initiatives that will help smallholder farmers learn about and replicate improved vegetable production techniques.
Understanding farmers’ culture, farming needs, and knowledge levels is essential for designing effective training for farmers on any platform. The members of the Digital Media team therefore organize regular meetings with farmers in their country and adjust the digital learning methodologies as needed. The Digital Media team works closely with the Technical Support Hub and Data teams to create and disseminate easy-to-understand technical advice and extension materials for farmers, adapted for sharing on multiple digital platforms and other communications channels.
Measuring & Reporting Data for Impact
The members of the Data team are responsible for managing, analyzing, and reporting the immense amount of data generated by each country’s activities—farmer training sessions and Field Days, farmer demonstration plots and crop data, project-wide outcomes, and more. They also establish protocols for tracking data within each country. The Data team focused on measures of quality reporting and discussed topics like how best to prepare and share results from surveys to give good information to decision-makers.
The Data team, like the other two teams, emphasized cross-country sharing, with several data analysts presenting on initiatives and methodologies in place in their country. Among other workshop sessions, the Data team learned from their colleagues about logbooks used by agricultural-input dealers to track farmers who receive advice in their shops (Nigeria), farmer business planning (Myanmar), and performance and activity dashboards (Indonesia and India).
Optimizing EWS-KT Through Collaboration
The workshop culminated in two half-day sessions involving all three teams. The first focused on better understanding each other’s roles and responsibilities, seeing more clearly the organization as a whole, and connecting on an individual level across teams to promote stronger and more efficient communication. Participants also identified simple changes to optimize EWS-KT’s work.
The second joint session focused on GrowHow—our digital learning and resource platform for farmers, trainers, and agro-input dealers—and the intricacies of building a platform that aligns with the needs, interests, and digital capacity of multiple target audiences.
Through in-depth workshops like this that bring together teams from across Africa and Asia and across work areas, EWS-KT gains greater insight into each country’s challenges, approaches, and solutions and strengthens global practices to better benefit smallholder farmers.