Rural Knowledge Network for Eastern and Southern Africa
Small farmers can create commercially viable enterprises if they have access to relevant information, training and modern communication tools. The Rural Knowledge Network was set up in 2007 to facilitate the emergence of businesses for small farmers’ access to markets from local to national level, by helping establish commercially viable market access services for building effective rural marketing chains.
RKN is developing a people-centred knowledge management process that is built on an understanding of farmers’ needs, shapes existing technical information to respond to their requirements and delivers knowledge in a form they can understand. The network covers Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania with actors at national, district and local level.
RKN promotes the use of communication tools such as internet, mobile phones and SMS to facilitate the services of commercial partners. It comprises:
* Information board managers operating a frontline market intelligence service at producer level * Market access companies operating a local market brokering service at district level * National Marketing Companies and their regional managers operating a service for transaction security, and research and development on markets and business operations
The network benefits from related initiatives, such as First Mile, which is testing modern information and communication technologies to access market intelligence in rural areas in Tanzania, and mobile payment services already widely used in Kenya.