Creating channels, connections, and communities: Experimenting with virtual rural agricultural learning communities in Nkhotakota district, Malawi

This article was originally featured in:
RUFORUM Working Document Series (ISSN 1607-9345) No. 14 (1): 363-369. Available from http://repository.ruforum.org

In the simplest form, an agricultural innovation system has three elements: the organizations and individuals involved in generating, diffusing, adapting and using new knowledge; the
interactive learning that occurs when organizations engage in these processes and the way this leads to new products and processes; and the institutions that govern how these interactions and processes takes place. Social learning – iterative and learning-based processes of collective decision making and problem solving in the face of change- is the core of innovation processes, as any change in social or economic organisation improving a certain state of the matters brings to a change in the available knowledge. This paper describes the experiences of smallholder farmers in Nkhotakota district in creating channels for social learning through social media and ICTs. Whatsapp has enabled farmers to create virtual learning communities that allow them to access agricultural information from various specialists. ICTs are able to bridge the digital divide between specialists and farmers within the rural areas.

The authors acknowledge the financial support received from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the technical support from Farm Radio International (FRI). This paper is a contribution to the 2016 Fifth African Higher Education Week and RUFORUM Biennial Conference.

Year Published:
2016
Contact:
Karen Hampson [email protected]
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