An IFAD and IICA Knowledge Management Program in Brazil

A Knowledge Management program is helping to transform the Brazilian semiarid region into fertile ground for social and productive innovation. Funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and implemented by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), the Semear International Program promotes a fruitful encounter between local traditions and contextualized scientific advancement.

This is happening because IFAD and IICA have realized the relevance of applying Knowledge Management in the projects they support in Brazil. Knowledge Management means researching, identifying, systematizing, improving, organizing and disseminating the diverse knowledge that comes from the experiences of peasant farmers, incorporating this knowledge into products, services and methodologies that improve their daily lives and generate income and autonomy.

Knowledge Management allows sharing what has been learned, creating spaces where information can be easily found by others. This generates savings in time and resources, because it strengthens coexistence with the semi-arid region and prevents others from having to travel longer distances to reach the same results.

When we do a good Knowledge Management, we become more efficient: good practices that have been tested and validated can be replicated elsewhere, with low risks and high probability of success. The learning provided by the Lessons Learned from each activity circulates in a large network of communities, governments, and organizations, boosting rural development and the fight against hunger and poverty.

Over five years, Semear International has managed to detect, systematize, and disseminate more than 250 experiences and good practices, directly involving more than 5,500 farmers, male and female farmers, technicians, and managers. The circulation and promotion of living knowledge happens through trainings, seminars, exchanges, forums, and various communication products, such as books, primers, manuals, and videos.

The Semear Portal, besides publishing the latest news, is the channel that makes all this multimedia material accessible. And Communication does not stop there. With the Semear International Journalism Award, many traditional press vehicles have given even more visibility to the good rural practices of the projects supported by IFAD in Brazil. The contest awards the best reports in the categories Radio, TV, Print and Internet, an innovative process in the semi-arid region, which promotes a wide dissemination of knowledge and also connects other regions of the country.

The DataFida System, a personalized monitoring and evaluation platform, now allows a fast, reliable and transparent management of the productive projects. In DataFida, it is possible to register and store data, manage finances and investment plans, follow administrative routines and consolidate qualified and consistent information about the progress of the programs and projects linked to IFAD. And not only in Brazil!

South-South Cooperation is also a fundamental strategy adopted by Semear International. In the various international activities, the knowledge produced in the Brazilian semi-arid region is adapted and applied in other Latin American and African countries. And vice-versa. An example of this is the Learning Territories program, which was born in Colombia and was adjusted to the Brazilian reality. Its objective is to enable members of the communities to be recognized in the local market as remunerated providers of knowledge management and rural technical advisory services. They are prepared to offer continuous training courses to other farmers, with methodologies focused on practical applicability.

There are many stories of families whose lives have been transformed by Knowledge Management. These are the cases of Francisca and Perpétua, two young women from the backlands of Piauí who have participated in multiple Semear International trainings. Today, one (Francisca) is Secretary of Agriculture in Betânia do Piauí, while the other (Perpétua) has become an entrepreneur and instructor in Ecogastronomy, replicating the lessons learned.

All this contributes for the legacy of knowledge to cross generations, sowing perspectives, dignity, and hope in the regions of the globe where opportunities are lacking, but potential abounds.

To make it bear fruit is our reason for being. This is Semear International.