05 Nov

SCARA Symposium on ICT and Agriculture, September 2019

SCARA Symposium Participants

The SCARA Symposium on ICT and innovations in agriculture, “Creating the Future Together “organized by Egerton and BOKU University under the APPEAR project “Strengthening Capacities for Agricultural Education, Research & Adoption in Kenya (SCARA)”, took place from 27th to 28th of September 2019 at Egerton University, Njoro Campus. More than 70 participants discussed and deliberated on the topics ICT, digital agriculture, socio-cultural and gender issues and agricultural sustainability coming when the agricultural industry in Africa is experiencing a transformation driven by the increased adoption of technology on different frontiers. The symposium was sponsored by Austrian Development Cooperation (ADC) under the auspices of Austrian Partnership Programme in Higher Education and Research for Development (APPEAR) in collaboration with Egerton University.

Key notes on mentioned topics were provided by Alexander Valento, CEO of YielderKE, Dr. Joel Onyango from the African Centre for Technological Studies and Dennis Tianta from Agrisolve Detawald. The participants, representing different stakeholder groups from farmers, extension agents, scientist, NGOs, developers, media and high school students used the opportunity of direct stakeholder interaction to develop new visions for ICT and youth in agriculture and find new and innovative ways for knowledge creation and sharing. In “Idea generation” and “decision making” sessions challenges and opportunities of ICT were identified which can show the way into a new digital age in agriculture. The role of youth was found to be of paramount importance in future as education becomes more and more important for both the youth and their parents. Young people are more interested in well paid jobs than getting their hands dirty. However, unemployment rates among young Kenyans are increasing.  Either food production has to intensify to meet the increasing demands of a growing population with fewer active people in the food production sector or new ways of agricultural production have to attract young innovative Kenyans. Youth in agriculture has to find their niche to be innovative. Youth are beyond for just being part of the labor force and to be successful in agriculture there are plenty of opportunities along the value chain in Kenya. On the other hand, a large group of Kenyan farmers, young and old, have a different more conservative perspective on agriculture.

Idea generation session

Only 28% of rural farmers in Kenya have access to a smartphone. What about those, among many of them are female farmers, who don’t have access? The digital divide is a major threat to those farmers. Feature phones and SMS is a solution but for rural farmers radio and TV are major sources of information on weather, market, laws and emerging trends. ICT include a wide range of tools to disseminate information to end-users and provides opportunity to interact between involved stakeholders. ICT platforms have the capacity to enable farmers to access information on product pricing and local markets, source for inputs and weather conditions. However, discussion cannot be solely about the use of ICT in agriculture which should enable farmers to access relevant information. Information has to be accessible but also in a format that makes it usable for users. But it is also a matter of trust. Farmers are questioning whether the information they receive is legit. Farmers prefer to have different sources and cross-check even with people they know and trust. Limited access to internet services and access to transport for important market access also keeps to be a big issue. The role of the Government is clear, and this has to include the provision of enabling environment, especially for marginalized groups, and support systems and policies that support innovations and ICT-driven ideas at small & medium enterprise and capacity building in ICT. Development of ICT for agricultural services requires a substantial budget and investment. Mindset of users is often “smartphone apps have to be free of charge” This is economically unsustainable for many developers and startups in Kenya.

Different generations exchange ideas and views

Research should be connected to solving actual problems and put into practice by practitioners in a multiple dimension context. Integration of ICT in teaching agriculture has been found to be effective in instructional delivery strategies in the aspects of crop production, livestock production, soil science, agricultural economics and agricultural engineering. Agriculture in Kneya is no longer just about crop production or livestock farming activities. Young learners must be prepared to deploy ICT in countering the challenges brought forth by ecological factors affecting the environment. Hence the role universities play in this area is important not only with a strong focus on research on ICT and agriculture and to produce specific sets of data but also integrate ICT, digital data management and the role of innovations in agriculture in their curriculum. Success of agriculture in Kenya also lies on the shoulders of tech savvy youth. Youth should take the responsibility and look for opportunities and knowledge and this is certainly a key role and responsibility of universities to create enabling environments as well.

Choosing Priorities

The SCARA symposium was organized with the intention to create a wider forum for stakeholders to share visions and challenges on ICT and agriculture in Kenya. It certainly laid the foundation for a platform for interactions on these pertinent topics. The main priorities identified by the “idea generation” sessions were “training of end-users on ICT”, “focus on small holder farmers”, “improvement of existing mobile apps by developers in cooperation with farmers”. All involved stakeholders are invited to join hands and forces to create a better future for all in the agricultural sector in Kenya.

05 Dec

Extension of Deadline – Symposium at Egerton University 27th – 28th of February 2019

Call for AbstractsSymposium at Egerton University Kenya

EXTENSION of DEADLINE: 30th December 2018

Date: 27th and 28th February 2019

Egerton University

ICT and Innovation for Sustainable Agriculture

New Deadline for submission: 30th December 2018

Topic 1: Socio-cultural and gender aspects of sustainable technology adoption at farm level.

Topic 2: ICT4Ag – Innovative knowledge sharing and learning approaches for  technology adoption in agriculture – Opportunities and Barriers

Topic 3: Youth and Agriculture – the way forward

Topic 4: Participatory and learning centered methods for research and development – a critical review

07 Nov

Kick-Off of Mobile ICT4Ag App Usability Test Event in Kenya

Today marked the day of one of SCARA projects most interesting activities, the usability testing of mobile agricultural apps. 7 computer science students from Egerton University in Kenya gathered to develop an testing setting. This procedure supports the usability evaluation of common Kenyan mobile agri-apps. The students get test their own apps tested by the actual users, the farmers. The students develop a testing procedure under supervision and conduct the usability testing themselves. This provides a great opportunity for them to learn and develop these skills hands-on.

Even in Europe females in tech, computer science, programming and app development is an important topic. The SCARA project is happy that out of 7 students, involved in this activity, 4 are female computer science students. They themselves are developing mobile apps for ICT4Ag scenarios.

The SCARA project partners Egerton University and BOKU Vienna and the APPEAR program supports “Girls for a change“.

30 Oct

Call for Abstracts – International Symposium Egerton University 27th – 28th February 2019

Call for AbstractsSymposium at Egerton University Kenya

Date: 27th and 28th February 2019

Egerton University

ICT and Innovation for Sustainable Agriculture

Deadline for submission: 30th November 2018

Topic 1: Socio-cultural and gender aspects of sustainable technology adoption at farm level.

Topic 2: ICT4Ag – Innovative knowledge sharing and learning approaches for  technology adoption in agriculture – Opportunities and Barriers

Topic 3: Youth and Agriculture – the way forward

Topic 4: Participatory and learning centered methods for research and development – a critical review

27 Mar

Training on Participation, Transformation and Ownership

26 Students were invited to participate in a highly interactive training on participative research and participation. The training was hosted by Egerton University and facilitated by Beverly Achieng (EgU)and Dominik Ruffeis (BOKU). The students were highly motivated to learn about participation, participative research approaches, transformation, community ownership and research ethics. Main goal of the training was to learn how to integrate the methodologies of participation into research and field work.

Participation is getting involved, sharing ideas and discussion and participation is allowing all community members to take part and to own the activities. (Students voice)

A hot debate was going on on the levels of participation and how participation is reflected in common institutions.

Lowest level of participation is just sharing information with communities and the highest level is purely self-motivated community actions including assets and identifying the needs and ideas for change through the communities themselves.

Participation is empowering people to learn, develop, change values, take action and improve. It can lead to sustainability transition or even transformation processes. Changing values and views through learning will eventually lead to changed behavior and innovations.

  • Engage people emotionally
  • Development of resilience
  • Engage people at scale
  • Work towards well being
  • Choose your facilitators carefully

Participation is also about collaboration and working together:

Research should rather focus on solutions and not on problems. Communities always look for solutions and not for problems.

Participants of the Training:

16 Feb

The Winners of the SCARA Research Competition – Welcome

SCARA project is announcing the 5 winners of the Research Competition. Four female and one male students will participate in the SCARA mentorship program. The Master students receive additional support for their research activities. This involves write up of their Master thesis and publishing of scientific papers through international supervision and an innovative scientific creative writing course. The mentorship program is facilitated through an e-learning collaboration platform hosted by BOKU. An innovative joint students supervision and ToT (Training of Trainers) approach is used.  Students are guided through the process of proposal development and publication of their research output. Additionally they will have the opportunity to present their findings during an international Symposium hosted by Egerton University and SCARA project in the first quarter of 2019.

Research Competition Winners – Egerton University Master Students
  • Daisy Lelgut Lanoi
  • Sally Mukami Kimathi
  • Cosmas Kweyu Lutomia
  • Julia Akhabere
  • Anne Wamaitha Kamande

The topics selected include research on dairy farm intensification and impact on land resources, food processing of Mango, sustainable technology adoption, use of farm videos and mobile application for advisory services in Kenya. The students from Egerton University will collaborate with BOKU students on selected topics. This supports and enhances peer2peer learning process and integrates the students into an international science network.

SCARA project is happy to welcome the students and the team is looking forward to a fruitful cooperation.

 

26 Sep

Research Competition – EXTENSION of Deadline to 31st October 2017 – Take your Chance

SCARA APPEAR Students Research Competition

Announcement

The SCARA (Strengthening capacities for agricultural education, research and adoption in Kenya) Project wishes to announce and call upon students of Egerton University to submit for research concept notes under the themes listed below. Research work can cover topics from natural as well as social science. There are separate entries for female and male students.

Details, competition guidelines and application forms can be downloaded from:

http://scara.boku.ac.at/students-competition/

All applications must be submitted by 31st October 2017.

Topic 1: Use of participatory approaches to integrate socio-economic, ethical and gender issues into agricultural research and dissemination to shorten impact times and increase broad uptake.

Topic 2: Barriers for successful and sustainable adaptation and farm level adoption of new agricultural technologies.

Topic 3: Innovative research in providing sustainable and appropriate solutions in the nexus of climate change, water, food and nutrition security (FNS) and health (soil – water – atmosphere continuum, climate smart agriculture, value chain)

Topic 4: Innovative knowledge sharing and dissemination tools for adoption and adaptation of agricultural technologies (ICT4Ag)

Topic 5: Youth and Agriculture – Investing in the future

16 May

Call for Concept Notes open for SCARA Research Competition

SCARA APPEAR Students Research Competition

Announcement

The SCARA (Strengthening capacities for agricultural education, research and adoption in Kenya) Project wishes to announce and call upon students of Egerton University to submit for research concept notes under the themes listed below. Research work can cover topics from natural as well as social science. There are separate entries for female and male students.

Details, competition guidelines and application forms can be downloaded from:

http://scara.boku.ac.at/students-competition/

All applications must be submitted by 30th June 2017.

Topic 1: Use of participatory approaches to integrate socio-economic, ethical and gender issues into agricultural research and dissemination to shorten impact times and increase broad uptake.

Topic 2: Barriers for successful and sustainable adaptation and farm level adoption of new agricultural technologies.

Topic 3: Innovative research in providing sustainable and appropriate solutions in the nexus of climate change, water, food and nutrition security (FNS) and health (soil – water – atmosphere continuum, climate smart agriculture, value chain)

Topic 4: Innovative knowledge sharing and dissemination tools for adoption and adaptation of agricultural technologies (ICT4Ag)

Topic 5: Youth and Agriculture – Investing in the future

12 Apr

Youth and Agriculture – A challenge for the agricultural sector and food security in Kenya

The are a multitude of arguments when it comes to the issues whether the agricultural sector in Kenya or Africa in general is a viable option for employment for the youth. Some, like Karen Brooks Director of IFPRI argue in a blog post, that agriculture offers a good option to move out of poverty and build satisfying lives if only leaders made policy and investment decisions that increased the competitiveness of Africa’s ‘local farmers’. Others like Jim Sumberg, research fellow at the Institute of Development Studies, says in a blog post that “upgrading employment opportunities within the agricultural sector (i.e. from preventative to promotive and/or transformative), may only come about through the fundamental restructuring of the sector”. Both positions implies that huge efforts are needed to create change at the policy level to have a wider impact on the agri-sector and the youth.

The Youth wants the change and they are on the way

While the debate is ongoing and changes through policy and investment decisions or  restructuring of the sector is most-likely to trickle in slowly, the youth is looking for opportunities and the market and the agribusiness is moving at much faster pace.

The SCARA APPEAR project gives young people the opportunity to explore options and challenges and look for solution from their own perspective. And that is what happened last week at Egerton University. 30 young people from young farmer, ICT experts, high school and university students met to discuss burning issues related to agriculture and youth. During the workshop organized as an open space, they had the opportunity to voice they opinions and look for solution from their own unique perspective. And this was only the beginning of an interesting journey.

The youth council – an advisory board by young people

As a major milestone of the SCARA project, a youth council was established. The youth council will meet on a regular bases to discuss issues regarding youth, agriculture, innovations, challenges, ICT, ICT4Ag and solutions that fit their unique needs. They will provide input to a Innovation Platform (IP) that will be formed to discuss the metioned issues on a broader multi-stakeholder scale.

Creating the agenda SCARA APPEAR open space ICT agriculture

Creating the agenda SCARA

Agenda of the youth SCARA APPEAR Egerton Kenya ICT agriculture

Agenda of the youth SCARA

Group discussion SCARA APPEAR Egerton Kenya agriculture ICT

Group discussion SCARA

High school student SCARA APPEAR Egerton Kenya

High school student SCARA

Group picture youth workshop SCARA APPEAR Egerton Kenya

Group picture youth workshop SCARA

Youth council members SCARA APPEAR Egerton Kenya

Youth council members SCARA

06 Apr

Creative scientific writing course – Impressions and Reflexions

The course on creative scientific writing taught by Dr. Andreas Zitek from Center for Education, e-Learning and Didactics from BOKU was very well received by all students of Egerton University. In fact the training created a lot of interest across the faculties of Egerton University. This might lead to further collaboration between the universities.

30 female and male students, from Master to PhD level and academic staff members of Egerton University participated in the innovative 2-day course on creative scientific writing of papers and research proposals. During the highly interactive course developed by Andreas Zitek , they received a practical hands-on training based on an innovative combination of creative didactics and technologies.

Young scientists will have the opportunity to participate in a research competition with separate entries for female and male students. 10 students, selected by a jury, will receive support and mentoring for their work from proposal development to publication by BOKU and Egerton University academic staff members. A shared moodle course will be hosted by the E-Campus of EU. This will strengthen collaboration between BOKU and EU through an innovative mentorship program for young students to increase capacities in e-learning and research of both Universities.

Selected quotes from Andreas lecture:

Writing = mind structuring
“Writing a research paper is to learn to
bring order into your own thoughts.
It is the experience of methodological work.
That is why the topic of the work is less
important than the experience that comes
with it.”
(Umberto Eco)


I hear and I forget.
I see, and I remember.
I do and I understand.
(Confucius)