Federal Office for Agriculture and Food

Information and Knowledge Management

Support for the presentation and availability of knowledge and efficient research coordination.

For a number of years, the BLE has been actively involved in information and knowledge management in the field of international cooperation and global food security, agricultural research and rural development.

Activities of the division 323 "International Cooperation and Global Food Security" based at BLE comprise the further development of existing information systems for internationally-oriented German and European agricultural research, setting up of knowledge bases and providing knowledge transfer through a voucher system. The participation in international e-learning measures to strengthen and train experts are being explored.

Existing information systems of internationally-oriented German and European agricultural research shall be updated and expanded to facilitate the access to relevant information on research institutes, experts, projects, thematic priorities and key publications. For this purpose, BLE participates, among others, in the ERA-Net on Agricultural Research for Development (ERA-ARD).

ERA-Net on Agricultural Research for Development

In order to strengthen European cooperation, the European Commission has been launching so-called ERA-Net ("European Research Area Network") projects. Through the improved cooperation and coherence of European research programs, each ERA-Net shall contribute to efficient research in Europe. The ERA-ARD consortium was founded in 2005. The consortium’s current members are Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey and the United Kingdom.

The ERA-ARD consortium has two strategic objectives:

  • Increased efficiency within the European Research Area, in terms of planning, financing and implementation of measures through the improved use of synergies between national programs in the field of agricultural research for development.
  • Strengthening the European contribution and influence on global research through improved cooperation and coordination of national programs.

The internationally-oriented information systems also aim at strengthening the capacities of developing countries through closer cooperation with agricultural research institutes in Germany and Europe, by drawing upon the close connection of regional and international information and knowledge management networks with agricultural research forums such as the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR), the European Initiative for Agricultural Research for Development (EIARD) and, in sub-Saharan Africa, with the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA).

Market Information and Estimation of Post-Harvest Losses

The BLE is also committed to process spatial scientific and statistical data and timelines (e.g. market prices) for knowledge bases. These data are made available to research institutions, extension services, and farmers for use in projects and decision-making. Examples include cooperation with the West-African Market Information Network RESIMAO and African Post Harvest Losses Information System (APHLIS).

The West African Network RESIMAO (Réseau des Systèmes d'Information des Marchés en Afrique de l'Ouest) is the official market information network of the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS). To enable data exchange between national market information systems in West Africa, RESIMAO developed an information system in cooperation with the BLE. Market observers of the relevant markets in Benin, Burkina, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo forward market information to national headquarters, where the data are processed and made available on an Internet platform.

The eastern and southern African Network APHLIS determines post-harvest losses, which is a complex task as data are difficult to collect. The following countries and institutions participate in APHLIS : Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Eritrea, Botswana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe as well as SADC, ASARECA, NRI, JRC and the BLE.

APHLIS data were published in the British government report on the "Foresight Project Global Food and Farming Futures".

Knowledge Transfer via Voucher System

Innovative approaches to knowledge transfer from research institutions to farmers should be "demand driven" and freely accessible so that farmers’ (i.e. small-scale farmers’) and extensions workers’ information needs in rural areas of developing countries can be met quickly and tailored to actual local conditions. The model "voucher system for knowledge transfer", developed by FARA and the BLE in pilot countries, will be further developed and transferred to other countries.

In this context, the BLE works with small-scale producers in Africa. By way of a voucher-driven mechanism they can ask questions which are answered individually. Numerous actors from agriculture are involved in measures related to this question-answer-service. Local agents contact small-scale farmers, experts answer questions, internet cafés publish questions and answers on the Internet.

Web-based controlling allows for the handling of operations in rural regions, such as in Uganda, and facilitates the involvement of local forces.