Diffusion of scientific knowledge in agriculture: The case for Africa
Alemneh, Daniel Gelaw
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Diffusion of scientific knowledge in the agriculture sector in Africa, primarily in sub Saharan African (SSA) countries, is dominated by traditional extension service that is slow, linear, hierarchical, and poorly funded. Using exploratory research method, this paper set out to investigate existing knowledge diffusion models and their limitations, available best practices, and the potential to infuse translational research as a way to augment extension service programs in SSA agricultural practices. A closer analysis of the extant literature in the topic gave us a valuable insight in the following areas: (1) public private partnerships, including NGOs, and participation across the entire agricultural value chain is critical to forge a trusted and working knowledge exchange practice between the research and farming communities; (2) researchers and their institutions need to consider the needs and priorities of the farmer, the end user of produced knowledge, first; (3) extension services need to focus more on education, training, and face-to-face individual/group interactions by empowering the extension agent to become an effective knowledge broker; (4) translational research will help bolster the existing knowledge diffusion practice by bridging the knowledge to action/decision gap; (5) the potential for ICT use in disseminating new knowledge and creating knowledge networks exist in SSA. With these valuable insights, we also proposed what we called “Agricultural Knowledge Clearinghouse, AKC” that will work in tandem with the extension service. The significance of the AKC can be seen from the point of view of employing knowledge translation methods to integrate, synthesize, and create ready-to-use knowledge packages such as agricultural practice guidelines.