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Use of free open source software technologies to enhance knowledge mobilization in smallholder agricultural communities in Sri Lanka

Authors:

H. A. C. K. Jayathilake ,

Wayamba University of Sri Lanka, LK
About H. A. C. K.
Information and Communication Technology Centre
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U. K. Jayasinghe-Mudalige,

Wayamba University of Sri Lanka, LK
About U. K.
Department of Agribusiness Management
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L. D. R. D. Perera,

Wayamba University of Sri Lanka, LK
About L. D. R. D.
Department of Computing and Information Systems
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G. A. Gow,

University of Alberta, CA
About G. A.
Faculty of Extension
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N. Waidyanatha

LIRNEasia, LK
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Abstract

Development of credible approaches to share indigenous and scientific knowledge in possession of farmers, especially those engage in rural subsistence agriculture, has become a necessity in order to enhance their competitive edge in agriculture, however, remains as a challenge at present. The concept of Knowledge Mobilization (KMb) has, in the light of this, gained much prominence, where the role of information and communication technologies to promote sustainable agriculture is of greater attention. On this rationale, this study was carried out to explore the possibility of applying Free Open Source Software (FOSS) technologies, in combination of mobile technologies, to promote sustainable knowledge mobilization amongst the agricultural communities in Sri Lanka. Multi-stage community consultations with designated officials (partners) and pre-tested structured questionnaire-based face-to-face interviews with randomly selected smallholder agriculture farmers (n=272) from Batticaloa, Kurunegala, Matale and Puttalam Districts were employed to gather baseline data. Eight campaigns were carried out with the farmers (n=720) from the same geographical areas, where the three FOSS technologies, namely: (1) FrontlineSMS for Texting (2) FreedomFone for Interactive Voice Responses or Voice-Call and (3) Ushahidi for Interactive mapping, were applied to evaluate the possibility and effectiveness of knowledge sharing within those farming communities. It was revealed that FOSS intervention augments the Texting, Voice-Call and Interactive-mapping usage in day-to-day agricultural communication by 21, 18 and 5 percent, respectively. The key demographic factors considered, including the age and educational levels of farmers have triggered the process of knowledge mobilization positively. Outcome of the study, overall, infers that, with a fitting mechanism in place, this approach can be promoted as a drive for positive changes in agriculture-based rural communities in developing countries like Sri Lanka.
How to Cite: Jayathilake, H.A.C.K., Jayasinghe-Mudalige, U.K., Perera, L.D.R.D., Gow, G.A. and Waidyanatha, N., 2018. Use of free open source software technologies to enhance knowledge mobilization in smallholder agricultural communities in Sri Lanka. Tropical Agricultural Research, 29(2), pp.147–156. DOI: http://doi.org/10.4038/tar.v29i2.8285
Published on 29 May 2018.
Peer Reviewed

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