Between 2012 and 2015 the MARS Lab led a Canadian-funded partnership development project in Sri Lanka to examine the use of low-cost information and communication technologies (ICTs) for knowledge mobilization among agricultural communities of practice. This page provides some highlights from that project. More information is available at Mobilizing Knowledge for Sustainable Agriculture


vimeoimageProject presentation at IAMCR 2015 in Montréal

I was pleased to debut a short film about our partnership development project at the International Association of Media and Communication Researchers (IAMCR) Conference in Montreal, on July 16.  We had a small but interested group at the presentation with lots of good questions about the role of the technology stewards in the project.  See video here



pp1Poster Presentation @ CSCW2015

The 18th ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing (CSCW 2015) was held at the Westin Bayshore hotel in Vancouver, BC, Canada from 14th -18th March 2015. We presented our poster titled Technology Stewardship, Text Messaging, and Collaboration in Agricultural Work: Preliminary Results from an Action Research Study in Sri Lanka on 16thMarch on this conference.


Post-campaign community meetings: day oneblogger-image-798157562

Members of the ICT Rapid Prototyping Working Group are spending several days meeting with communities to examine the results of a set of recently concluded communication campaigns.
The campaigns form part of an action research strategy to explore the use and adoption of low cost ICTs for knowledge mobilization in agricultural communities of practice.  A previous post describes the campaigns and the communities involved.


dam2Surveys with Farmer Communities in Melsiripura, Dambahera and Rideegam

The survey team comprised Nuwan from LIRNEasia, myself from Wayamba University of Sri Lanka (WUSL) and team of students affiliated with the ICT Centre of WUSL. We surveyed the local communities affiliated with the Department of Export Agriculture (DOEA). Basically there are two campaigns at DOEA and it cover the Melsiripura and Rideegam Divisional Secretariats of Kurunegala District. The previous survey tools (surveys with farmer communities in Batticaloa) were practiced.


reflection_panel_setup_01Solar Powering the Turnkey FrontlineSMS

The turnkey solution design is such that we want the simple click of the power button to activate a pre-configured system for use. This would be for Freedom Fone, FrontlineSMS, and Ushahidi software applications as per the low cost voice, text-ing, and mapping technologies used in the project, for knowledge mobilization. Read more []

1Tech Stewards Training:

Before we start the community campaigns in the first half of the year 2014, a series of comprehensive training sessions/workshops are planned for the technology stewards who have been identified in our rapid prototyping phases.

  • Tech Stewards training for Department of Export Agriculture (DOEA) –

The first tech stewards training was successfully completed on 09th Dec 2013 at SDC, Wayamba University of Sri Lanka. There were three tech stewards (Mahendra, Chandana & Upul) and two assistants were participated. Read more []



8001_Dialog_tradenet_price_Alert_Sinhala_2Adoption and use of SMS at Bottom of the Pyramid

One of the key objectives of our project is to explore ways in which low cost ICTs can enhance knowledge mobilization by working within the context of everyday social practices.  Our view is that we need to find ways to introduce ICTs that will not be disruptive to existing KM-related activities but instead be seen to improve those practices in some tangible way.  Through this approach we believe we can increase the likelihood that an ICT-enhancement will be adopted and sustained over time because it will add real value to the community and to its knowledge mobilization activities. Read more []




IMG_0126Rapid Prototyping and Tech Stewards: reflections on recent field work

Having made some excellent contacts during our recent meetings and workshops in Sri Lanka, the project team now needs to consider how those will translate into pilot projects using low cost ICTs.

At the heart of our project is the community of practice concept, which refers to a group of likeminded people connected through a process of social learning.






photo-701872Managing Sinhala text

 Today we undertook a rapid prototyping exercise with a group of farmers at the Wewa Uda community centre near Maha Oya. We discovered several phones using Sinhala text encoding.  When we sent test messages to FrontlineSMS, we confirmed that these would not be properly displayed.  This suggests an opportunity for us to consider a Sinhala translation for FrontlineSMS, possibly as a contribution of the project.  We will need to consider this possibility further.





photo-709235Introducing FrontlineSMS to pepper farmers near Kurunegala

Over the next five days, the Rapid Prototyping Work Group will be meeting with various farmer groups to share ideas for using low cost ICTs to support knowledge mobilization.
Today we met with pepper farmers near Kurunegala.  Janaka Lindara, Asst. Director of the Dept of Export Agriculture kindly offered his time and support to this meeting, and I was pleased to meet him  and learn about his enthusiasm for this project.

DSC01749Report on Batticaloa visit

Team members Chandana Jayathilake from Wayamba University and Nuwan Waidyanatha from LIRNEasia recently visited famers in Batticaloa to talk about the difficulties they face in their daily activities.  Chandana’s detailed report is posted here.



This research was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.