Sharing Indigenous Farming Tips via SMS
Social Software Naigaga Jane from the Nalwesambula village in Mayuge province, Uganda was distraught. One of her few cows, on which her family depended for their income and milk, died calving. Usually in rural Uganda the calf would die as well because it could not be fed. Thankfully, Naigaga Jane knew of a solution. A calf will survive if it is fed three times a day for four weeks with two eggs mixed with normal milk, a ¼ litre of warm, clean water and a teaspoon of cod liver oil, all delivered through a baby’s bottle. Following this recipe Naigaga Jane saved the calf and restored her small herd. She learned this lifesaving recipe through a monthly forum she attends run by a remarkable village network to share indigenous farming knowledge: Celac (Collecting and Exchange of Local Agricultural Content). The Celac network was created by the NGO, Busoga Rural Open Source and Development Initiative (BROSDI), with the help of the Grameen Foundation’s AppLab, Google and MTN Uganda, the country’s main telecommunications provider. In 14 rural districts Celac has set up a network of 15 “village knowledge brokers” who receive weekly updates by SMS and podcast, to help them educate local farmers, often women, in techniques that will improve the productivity of their small farms. Once the village knowledge brokers receive the updates it is down to them to find the most effective methods of distribution using weekly forums such as the one Naigaga Jane attends. They search out the best place to set up their stall, usually close to a market. Some put soil collected in a sack, push a wooden stick into it, with a board at the top to act as a blackboard. Others prefer to nail a board to a traditional jackfruit tree to make the most of the shade. Some use their own phones to connect to the Celac service, others use the “village horn”, a shared village phone, which the group rents out for the session. Using the village horns, different villages can contact one another to share tips and ideas: farmers from the Celac group in Lira can learn how to rear turkeys from their peers in Budaka. Celac is compiling a FarmAfriPedia, written by and for farmers, to share their knowledge of different crops, herds and techniques. Celac began in 2005 when the Ugandan Government started pushing farmers to move from subsistence to commercial forms of agriculture. The main force pushing the rise in productivity and quality was the already overworked network of government Agriculture Extension Workers. Many of the techniques they proposed were beyond the budgets of small-scale farmers who wanted more frugal, self-help solutions. BROSDI started Celac in response to their demands for more down-to-earth, informal support.
Lack of communication between farmers results in loss of valuable information and resources between farms such as livestock, agriculture, tools, etc.
using people’s local languages
people’s sense of pride for being considered expert of a certain subject
trust towards content prepared by colleagues
help by the researchers to rationalize the local knowledge and spread it
pride of producing audio files
support by CELAC to distribute the CDs with the farmers’ voices recorded and stimulate groups of conversation about the topics
Why local content creation is so important for farmers- https://talksharelearn.wordpress.com/2009/03/10/why-local-content-creation-is-so-important-for-farmers/
Sierra Briscoe - www.linkedin.com/in/sierrabriscoe