Learning routes create innovative knowledge sharing opportunities
Innovations are happening everyday in the world of agricultural development, but lessons learned in Bolivia's altiplano are hard to share with smallholder farmers across the globe in Tanzania. That's where programs like the IFAD co-financed Learning Routes Programme come into play.
Created and implemented by the PROCASUR Corporation, the program – financed by IFAD, the Ford Foundation and other partners – has been creating knowledge-sharing opportunities for both smallholder farmers and big international organizations – like IFAD – since 2006.
So what is a learning route? "A Learning Route is a continuous process of in-the-¿eld training that seeks to broaden and diversify the markets of rural technical services, placing special value on the best experiences and knowledge of institutions, associations, communities and rural families," said PROCASUR's Ariel Halpern. "Each Route is organized thematically around experiences, case studies and best practices on innovative rural and local development."
The end goal is for the local participants to become the trainers. Through workshops, interviews, conversations and other learning activities, the Route generates a space for individual and collective learning for visitors and hosts. For the final product, Learning Route participants come up with a concrete innovation plan.
"Learning Routes have been proved as an effective learning mechanism for development agents and beneficiary associations, as well as men and women from different economic, social and cultural environments," said Halpern. "Through the Routes, PROCASUR promotes the recuperation and systematization of available knowledge, its pedagogical organization, the exchange and application of new approaches, good practices and lessons in order to improve the development of beneficiary rural organizations, technical teams of rural development projects and their national executing institutions of local rural governments and private organizations."
Since 2006 PROCASUR and its partners have implemented over 40 Learning Routes. Working directly with people in the field in 15 countries in Latin America, Asia and Africa, the organization has helped more than 650 direct users share their knowledge, traditions and agricultural innovations. They estimate that these efforts have indirectly benefiting around 4000 rural people. There are more than 170 organizations involved in the Learning Routes method, including community organizations, governments and rural associations.
Other knowledge sharing resources in LAC
- Caribbean Regional Unit for Technical Assistance (CARUTA)
- Latin America Center for Rural Development (RIMISP)
- Confederation of Family Producers Associations of the MERCOSUR (COPROFAM)
- Central American Regional Unit for Technical Assistance (RUTA)
- International Development Research Center (IDRC)
- Specialized Meeting on Family Farming in the Mercosur (REAF)
- Regional Program to Support Rural Afro-Latino Populations (ACUA)
- Africa-Brazil Agricultural Innovation Marketplace
- Regional Rural Dialogue