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Burkina Faso
Project Stage:
$1,000 - $10,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Sylvestre Ouedraogo is leading a Burkina-based regional movement to use information technology to spur the development of decentralized knowledge networks used by small farmers. Some of these initiatives are prosaic: teaching farmers to take photographs of particular plants at regular intervals and to load them onto a computer as a way of spotting problems and tracking success. Such activities facilitate curriculum development for members of farmer associations charged with administration, but lacking the confidence to learn basic computer skills. These initiatives are also accessible by ensuring more energy efficient and dependably networked computers in rural areas, and SMS linked database information systems for small farmers. At the request of the Burkina Faso government, Sylvestre recently engineered a set of strategic recommendations for how Burkina Faso can embrace information technology by moving away from centralized systems and focusing on mobile platforms.

About Project

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Sylvestre believes that the first key to success, especially in the area of small family farming, is to build transparent and accessible knowledge networks from the ground up that shift the focus of information aggregation to farmer groups. This allows small farmers to easily and instantly articulate what they are farming, the size of their farms, and the challenges that they face. Using these platforms, farmers link directly to resources and markets, as well as effectively plan their work. A recent, strategic element of Sylvestre’s work has been to build confidence in computer skills among ten of the most transparent, effective, and widespread farmer-related organizations in Burkina Faso. In several of these organizations, he has taken the next step to creating decentralized networks that integrate computer-based and mobile platforms, allowing member farmers to acquire regular updates and solicit information from each other and from their associations. Sylvestre is also integrating capacity building into his work. He has a wiki with actively advising technical experts as contributors, writing on seed selection, crop cultivation, animal husbandry and other farm-related disciplines that have increased in size in the last twelve months to more than four hundred active members, now including people in Mali and Senegal as well as Burkina Faso. Burkina Faso is ranked among the poorest countries in the world, and as a result, decisions about investing in digital architecture cannot overlook the important role played by government. To direct the government towards the most effective route of action, Sylvestre has submitted a set of recommendations to overhaul the way information about agriculture is gathered and disseminated. Considered controversial by some in government, Sylvestre believes that it is only a matter of time before accelerating social and economic forces lead the government to implement more efficient, up-to-date, and transparent ways of working with small farmers.