Sustainability Standards Resource Center
January and March 2012 Michiel Schoenmakers (FAQ) Angelica Senders, Marjoleine Motz, Renske Franken (FSAS) Anneke Theunissen, Joyce Gema
Contents Introduction .................................................................................... 4 Content report and methodology used ........................................ 5 Composition research team: ........................................................ 7 Commitment to and shaping of the Resource centre ..................... 8 Introduction .................................................................................. 8 Overall commitment ................................................................... 10 Services of the Centre................................................................. 11 Content needs and interests ...................................................... 13 Quality management and Standard compliance ........................ 15 Host and governance of the Centre............................................ 16 Willingness to share material ..................................................... 17 Conclusions: ................................................................................ 18 Existing websites, lessons learned from those sites and strategic linkages.......................................................................................... 20 Introduction ................................................................................ 20 General observations.................................................................. 21 Website comparison ................................................................... 23 Platforms .................................................................................... 23 Portals ......................................................................................... 26 Libraries ...................................................................................... 27
Conclusions ................................................................................. 32 Conclusions and recommendations first phase feasibility study .. 36 Main conclusions regarding assumptions .................................. 36 Needs assessment amongst stakeholders .................................. 36 Recommendations ...................................................................... 37 Portfolio of services....................................................................... 39 One-stop library .......................................................................... 40 Library: filling and updating work flow ....................................... 40 Library: creating customized documents ................................... 42 Library: search functionalities, metadata and controlled vocabularies ................................................................................ 44 Library advice .............................................................................. 46 Directory (Yellow pages) ............................................................. 47 Community ................................................................................. 49 Portal........................................................................................... 51 News service ............................................................................... 51 Q&A service ................................................................................ 52 Synergy between services and with existing internet services .. 52 Technical solutions ........................................................................ 54 Key 1: portfolio of services ......................................................... 56 Key 2: usability ............................................................................ 56 Key 3: sustainability of CMS ........................................................ 57
Key 4: strategic value .................................................................. 58
Key 5: Connectivity ..................................................................... 58
Table 1: response by type of organisation ...................................... 8
Governance and hosting ............................................................... 61
Table 2: response by geographic area of activities ......................... 8
Operational aspects of the Center ............................................. 61
Table 3: do you support a shared resource center? ....................... 9
Governance aspects of the Center ............................................. 61
Table 4: service interest overall .................................................... 10
Separate implementation from governance .............................. 62
Table 5: service interest by stakeholder category ........................ 11
Advice ......................................................................................... 64
Table 6: content needs and present use ....................................... 12
Business model and strategic alliances ......................................... 65
Table 7: quality management and standard compliance .............. 14
Strategic alliances ....................................................................... 65
Table 8: who should host? ............................................................ 15
Cost containment ....................................................................... 66
Table 9: production of own material and willingness to share ..... 16
Income generating activities ...................................................... 66
Table 10: attractiveness of sites by target group .......................... 21
Advice ......................................................................................... 69
Table 11: best scoring platforms ................................................... 23
Conclusions and recommendations second phase feasibility study ....................................................................................................... 70
Table 12: best scoring portals ....................................................... 25
Portfolio of services .................................................................... 70
Table 14: Type of material offered ................................................ 28
Technical solutions, supporting the portfolio of services .......... 70
Table 15: best scoring libraries...................................................... 29
Table 13: topics offered on libraries ............................................. 27
Governance and hosting............................................................. 71 Implementation .......................................................................... 71
List of annexes Annex 1 List of websites scored Annex 2 Criteria used for scoring portals, libraries and platforms Annex 3 List of interviewed persons Annex 4 List of respondents on the online questionnaire Annex 5 Detailed interview reports Terms and definitions
Introduction There is a rapid increase in market shares of agricultural products produced in compliance with voluntary standard systems. Yet many producer organizations and agribusinesses lack access to generic management skills, and find it increasingly difficult to comply with standard requirements. Another key trend relates to the increasing interest of processors, traders and retailers to develop direct trade relations with small scale producers. Certification is an important element here too. But a precondition is that producers are well-organized and able to run a professional operation. This creates a growing demand for high quality and well-structured capacity building materials and tools. To a varying degree, the sustainability initiatives have built their own, isolated compliance programs and support structures related to the content of their standards. These programs, however, are geared towards compliance, not business development. In a process initiated by ISEAL the different sustainability initiatives agreed to collaborate on capacity building in order to facilitate producer access. Proposed is to initiate a shared resource center to facilitate access to the preconditions for sustainability standards systems and their markets. Services of the sustainability standards resource center The proposed resource center consists of an internet platform with the following services: A one-stop-shop library, containing practical and copyright free tools like training materials, templates for quality management and internal control systems, management tools; 1. A moderated community rating / review scheme of available documents mentioned under 1;
2. A Community of Practice (CoP) portal for knowledge exchange and (moderated) discussion of relevant issues ; 3. A Yellow Pages find & to be found place for providers and clients of capacity building services; 4. An upload service for newly developed tools, that may complement the documents under 1 after positive community review; 5. An interactive calendar for workshops and trainings; 6. Links to existing websites like the ISEAL library, the ITC standards map, e-learning resources etc. Target groups and continual improvement The resource center focuses on sustainable agricultural production, and agribusiness enterprises in developing countries and emerging economies. Organisations in different development stages vary in needs. The resource center will offer applied concepts and tools, based on the quality management approach, adjusted to various levels of organizational development (from low entry groups to advanced agribusinesses). User community As farmers and emerging producer organizations and enterprises will not be able to access or use the resources on their own, the direct users of the resource center will be local service providers such as business development services (BDS), trainers, consultants and NGOs facilitating the development and up-scaling of value chains. The intention is to develop a community of practice that safeguards a minimum quality of tools, trainers and workshops. Possibly a system of train the trainers will have to be developed, or be integrated with one or more existing trainer accreditation schemes. Content report and methodology used In order to decide on the feasibility of a resource center some research needed to be done. This research was carried out in two phases.
First phase was to find out whether there is an actual interest in the intended resource center, and to verify its main assumptions. The first 3 chapters of this report deal with these aspects: Chapter 1 looks at the overall commitment for the creation of a Sustainability Standards Resource Center (SSRC), the capacity building needs indicated by potential users and target groups, materials available or needed and the kind of services people would use. Chapter 2 looks at a number of different websites and indicates lessons learned in regards to the structure, type of services and technical aspects of a future SSRC. It also indicates where potential strategic linkages could be made, Chapter 3 gives recommendations to the Steering Committee on the way forward. The methodology used was first of all desk research, supported by a questionnaire and semi-structured interviews. All these activities looked at the assumptions indicated in the concept note and summarized in this introduction as something that needed to be tested. It also allowed for preliminary indications on technical aspects of the Center and the services it should focus on. Second research phase was to: outline the portfolio of services that the resource center should provide for whom; have in-depth information on the different possible types of technical solutions, including the identification of suitable ICT options/hosting, a possible structure of the web platform and guidelines on the information architecture; identify suitable institutional / operational setups of the center (implementation, hosting, legal status, governance, contractual relations), and their pro’s and cons;
To outline a realistic financial setup that allows the center to cover its costs, based on an assessment of the willingness to pay of the different stakeholders (both donors and users), and; Suggest a strategy to ensure visibility so that the most important stakeholders are aware of the center and its propositions
Composition research team: The research team was led by Michiel Schoenmakers (FAQ), supported by Angelica Senders, Marjoleine Motz, Renske Franken (FSAS) and Anneke Theunissen and Joyce Gemma.
Commitment to and shaping of the Resource Center Introduction This chapter looks at two questions mentioned in the Terms of Reference: 1. To test / verify the main assumptions and to establish the basis for a go/no-go decision; 2. To have a clear overview of the needs of the different stakeholders. The questionnaire was sent to a broad range of organizations and individuals from certification bodies / standard setters, producer groups, traders, service providers, development agencies to several multi-stakeholder networks. We received 104 responses on the questionnaire. As several networks and organizations placed the link to the questionnaire on their website, we are unable to trace how many people were ultimately reached and can therefore not indicate the response rate. Placing the questionnaire on several websites has led to a fair amount of respondents from Latin America and Africa and a good representation of agribusinesses and trainers (see table 1 and 2). We did look at how the questionnaire outcome corresponds with the 26 semi-structured interviews held and included that in the conclusions and where relevant in the recommendations.
Table 1: response by type of organization
Table 2: response by geographic area of activities
All interviewees selected are key persons of each stakeholder group (see annex 1 for questions addressed and annex 2 for interviewees).
Overall commitment Regarding overall commitment 71 out of 104 respondents on the questionnaire said yes when asked if they would support the creation of the Center (table 3). This trend was confirmed by the interviews. IDH for instance indicated: “Yes there is a clear need for (neutral) information on standards, on training modules, on standards and easy access to trainers.” A representative of 4C gave a similar comment: “4C sees a joint resource center as a good tool for up-scaling. Industry is committed; we need to be able to answer their questions!” Others would say “Yes, but…” like Xiomara Paredes, the operational manager of CLAC. “In case the platform is open to producer organizations directly I think it has a great added value. In case it is only open to third organizations that provide technical assistance and capacity building services to the producer organizations, I think it has fewer added values. In what I see from producer organizations, many members of the CLAC, is that they have different certifications, not only FLO. It would be very interesting to them to find information on all these different standard setters in one single place in an organized way.” 31 respondents did not tick this box and are gathered under ‘no answer’.
Table 3: do you support a shared resource center?
10 | P a g e
There were 2 no’s and both are worth mentioning. Cafenica: “I don’t really think we need another platform. Cla@se can provide this service and even then we still have the challenge to make people and organizations use the tools.” Explanations on what Cla@se offers and how the Sustainability Standards Resource Center might be connected to it, is described later in this report. The other negative reply came from the managing director of IFOAM. Services of the Centre Table 4 reflects the responses coming from the questionnaire. Services like a library and portal (links to existing websites in the table) receive a high score in all stakeholder groups and so do the upload service and the yellow pages. Opinions are a bit more spread out on the other services. A community of practitioners or moderated community rating seems to be liked most by development agencies and standard setters / auditors.
Table 4: service interest overall
These outcomes are supported by the interviews. Especially networks or associations like ISEAL are clear about the services: “As ISEAL we notice that large businesses approach us for information on standards. That is a relevant service to give, but also a very time consuming one. If we could link our website to the Resource Center and direct businesses there, that would 11 | P a g e
be useful. Also the connection to training programs, a training calendar and service providers for instance, is of interest to us and probably also to the businesses or government officials that approach us.” IDH: “If the library – as part of the resource center – could support the standardization of wording for instance through the indexation of documents and training modules available in the library – it could work as a catalyst for the standard setters to follow that logic.” Utz Certified: “Unlocking training materials, with a clear indexation on type of modules and target group, in combination with access to qualified and experienced trainers, service providers, would be an added value.” 4C “sees a joint resource center as a good tool for up-scaling. Industry is committed; we need to be able to answer their questions.” EAFCA: “Accredited trainers will add value to the resource center”
Table 5: service interest by stakeholder category
12 | P a g e
Concrete offers are done as well. Utz: “Utz has budget for 2012 to set up a Yellow Pages service, and is interested in wider collaboration including uploading of training materials.” Content needs and interests To measure content needs, the online questionnaire asked two questions: 1. What do you think are the 2 most important capacity building topics for producer groups/agribusinesses? (tick maximum 2 options), and; 2. What training materials is your organization working with? The questionnaire outcome gives a top 2 for most important capacity building topics, being business planning (19%) and production techniques (13%). Topics like financial systems (12%), management skills and certification requirements (both 11%) are strong followers.
Table 6: content needs and present use
Several interviews give further explanations on the choices made. For instance the Junta Nacional de Café Peru says: “Productivity is a very important theme and it has not yet been fully integrated in the different 13 | P a g e
standards. It is a necessity in the near future. So we might as well take it into account straight away.” Finlays: “The focus needs to be about quality management and then standard compliance comes as a given. Too often the focus is on standard compliance (passing the audit) and not on operating good business practice as the foundation for sustainable operation.” Twin: “Special focus would be needed on advice and support to improve their financial administration, learn how to manage risks, support to strategic planning, but surely also quality management and quality control.” The top 2 of topics people are currently working with (table 6) shows a slightly different order. Here certification requirements and production techniques come first, closely followed by product quality, quality management and business planning. The interviews give further details. IDH: “Clear information on the content and scope of the different standards would be helpful. The same can be said about new initiatives like GSCP or networks set up by retailers or others. Information on topics dealt with, a who is who and what is there mandate, would also help businesses and producers to determine which platform to join, or which initiative to follow.” ISEAL: “As ISEAL we notice that large businesses approach us for information on standards. That is a relevant service, but also a very time consuming one. If we could link our website to the Resource Centre and direct businesses there, that would be useful. Also the connection to training programs, a training calendar and service providers for instance, is of interest to us and probably also to the businesses or government officials that approach us.” Cafenica: “The added value I see would be one or several new training modules on standards, quality management and others in the Cla@se platform, to be publically available.” 14 | P a g e
Quality management and Standard compliance One of the assumptions in the concept note is that quality management and standard compliance are closely linked and management skills should be a focal point for capacity building. The questionnaire included three questions on this aspect and the results are clear. Large majority of respondents agree with the quality management focus and support the idea that compliance with standards follows quality management.
Table 7: quality management and standard compliance
IDH: â€œIn general we support the idea that looking at and improving of management skills is important. That it is often a more neglected aspect of training programs.â€? See also the earlier made comment by Finlays.
15 | P a g e
Host and governance of the Centre Regarding hosting the Centre the responses indicates a slight preference for ISEAL over the NGO sector or an independent host. The questionnaire indicates 24 votes for a completely independent host as well as for ISEAL being the host (also 24), with development NGO’s as a good third (22). If you look at the ‘possibly’ answers than the preference goes to ISEAL or the NGO sector over the independent party.
Table 8: who should host?
The interviews indicate a similar preference with the additional suggestion that the technical host could be separate from the governance structure. Regarding the governance structure there was a clear preference for a multistakeholder approach to make sure that ownership is taken by the user groups and oversight could be given by (original) funders. Finlays: “It is important that an initiative such as this is inclusive of all those involved in such activity or in need of further capacity building.” 16 | P a g e
Willingness to share material The questionnaire shows clear commitment to share and upload materials. However, if you split the responses per stakeholder group and combine their comments with some of the interviews, the picture gets more shades.
Table 9: production of own material and willingness to share
NGO’s and certification bodies are confident in sharing materials as several of them claim that their material in practice is already public. UTZ certified for instance indicates “We are surely willing to upload our materials as they are already quite public.” Commercial parties like agribusinesses or financial institutions that created training materials are more hesitant. Finlays: “On sharing material: Maybe is the true answer, these are the product of our own commercial activity and although in principle we would be willing to share, producing these materials has a cost which has to be recovered. If we made it available to all they can benefit and undercut our prices putting our trade at risk.” Twin: “Twin most likely would not have a problem uploading bulletins or studies, but training material maybe not. Mentioning what kind of training modules is available and how people can access them, probably. Tools are partly made available via Cla@se for free to producers who are member of 17 | P a g e
CLAC and partly used when Twin is hired as a BDS. More likely to create link to Cla@se and want to be mentioned as service provider in the Yellow Pages. The same is probably true for Root Capital as some of the materials made by them are now part of the Cla@se library.â€? Conclusions: Research shows sufficient interest in and commitment to the creation of a Sustainability Standards Resource Center as long as the Center is clearly linked to specific content and services. Highest scores are for a one-stop library and links to existing websites, closely followed by an upload service and the yellow pages. The negative comment from IFOAM however might need some further exploration as a) it contradicts statements given by others within the IFOAM network and b) it is an important network to include in the Center. Half of the respondents indicated to be willing to upload materials amongst which were leading standard setters and service providers. However, two aspects need further exploration: The first group would be libraries and materials produced by commercial parties or owned by networks and used as member only. Exploring under which conditions they are willing to participate more actively in the Center is recommended especially as informally potential openings were given. Secondly it is important to check the interest and commitment to the Center by Solidaridad. Several field staff filled out the questionnaire, but their responses could not be cross checked with the head office (did not respond to request for interview nor filled out the questionnaire). In view of Solidaridadâ€™s link to several institutions and their development into a service provider on a broad range of certification requirements, including having training materials available, makes it important, in the opinion of the research team, to cross check the interest. One of the assumptions in the concept note was that producers are struggling with standard compliance, and the improvement of management 18 | P a g e
skills could support the compliance process. This is confirmed by the outcome of the questionnaire and the interviews as meeting certification requirements is not only indicated as an important topic, but also the number one topic most people are working on. Furthermore, participants indicated that quality management supports compliance with standards. Some clarity around governance is given as most respondents prefer a multistakeholder approach, but hosting the Center needs further exploration. It is in fact a draw and it is worthwhile exploring the proâ€™s and conâ€™s in more detail. Also cost implications of separating the host from the governance structure need more work.
19 | P a g e
Existing websites, lessons learned from those sites and strategic linkages Introduction This chapter deals with question three from the Terms of Reference: To provide an overview on what already exists in terms of resources, platforms and capacity building programs, and how the resource center could be linked. In the desk study we looked at some 60 websites dealing with capacity building and offering the following types of services: 1. ‘Platforms’ on which practitioners exchange experiences and resources in an ‘online community’. 2. Portals linking to external sites where materials can be found and downloaded and or linking to Platforms; 3. Library with downloadable or online accessible content; Most sites carry a combination of 2 or sometimes even all three services. Based on feedback from our online questionnaire and interviews, we made a closer study of 35 selected sites. For a unified approach, to stay focused, be able to compare sites, and to pick the fruits of good practices, we developed a scoring form (see http://fa2q.nl/webrank2). All studied sites were scored on the following elements: Attractiveness to target groups (lay out, vocabulary, content): Target group focus Ease of searching content, and combination of search options Source, quality and currency of content. Platform: - ease of use, 20 | P a g e
- quantity, - variety and activity rate of participants Portals: - variety of content, - quality of hyperlinks Library: - variety of content, - types of content (documents, presentations etcetera), - indexes in use
See annex 2 for the detailed list of scoring elements. Most elements were scored on a scale of 0 to 3: No or not applicable (0), Poor (1), Good (2), Excellent (3) Some elements, like “indexes in use” and “types of content” were scored on amount: 3 indexes in use = 3 points. For a list of consulted websites see annex 1, or www.fa2q.nl/all_sites_reviewed . General observations Some of the studied sites are very clear about intended target and target groups, others not. Where the site owner was not clear about the intended target group, we made an educated guess based on content. Yet one thing became very clear, judging by content and vocabulary, the majority of sites seem to focus on research or NGO community. The same focus is reflected in the attractiveness for the different user groups. The amount of sites attractive to farmers and farmers groups is rather low.
21 | P a g e
Table 10: attractiveness of sites by target group
Very few sites offer a systematic quality management based approach for continual growth, guiding their target groups through different development phases.
22 | P a g e
Website comparison The three services, library, portal and platform, have different: • Objectives and content; • Target groups; • Requirements in terms of software, management and hosting; • Requirements towards user activity; • Indexing and search functionalities and needs. Therefore the three services have been scored and compared in their own categories, and are being dealt with separately in the sections below. If the same site hosts more than 1 service, the site is taken into account in all relevant categories. Platforms Most platforms aim at increasing interactivity amongst professionals. For this purpose they use a variety of means to share experiences and information; for instance blogs, news, events, photos and videos. Other platforms involve members in generating content by using wikis. Examples are: KM4DEV, AKVOpedia. The idea of a wiki is that anyone can edit content. This requires a way of structuring the editing process similar to Wikipedia. Wikis therefore are generally located at a central place. It is, for instance, also the ICCO Alliance communicates with partners. Interactivity can also be stimulated by moderated discussions as is done by the organic cotton platform (known by ICCO, Textile exchange, SECO and Helvetas). The last example mentioned is that of list-servers, used by Farmer Field Schools and ISEAL. These allow participants to communicate via their existing e-mail service with a wide audience on a variety of topics. 23 | P a g e
Some platforms ensure that activities on their site can be followed via twitter; the tweets can again feed into the platform (“leraar 24”), others use Facebook and Hives and even YouTube and Flickr for the same purpose. As this is still relatively new there is no hard evidence that it stimulates participation and activity on the website, but it is clearly a growing trend. Especially trainers and practitioners in the south seem to respond to this aspect positively. See http://fa2q.nl/platform for a list of studied platforms. Platform scoring 15 platforms were scored, and scoring compared on: • Attractiveness of landing page; • target group focus; • Number and variety of users, user activity. Microlinks, which has a combination of both library and platform had the highest score, second is SEEP Network (www.seepnetwork.org) and FAO (http://www.fao.org/corp/knowledgeforum/en/) came third.
Table 11: best scoring platforms
24 | P a g e
Good platform examples www.fao.org/corp/knowledgeforum/en/: Offers a very clear and well-organized landing page. From landing page you can choose for knowledge networks, database/information system, distribution list/newsletters (or combination). On selection of the knowledge center, one enters a different space and layout (e-agriculture). Differentiation in lay out and content, not trying to put everything together. www.apf-kenya.ning.com : Offers local relevant information and news, so also useful for local organizations/BDS providers
25 | P a g e
Portals See http://fa2q.nl/portal for the list of studied portals Portals were scored on: • Attractiveness of landing page; • target group focus; • Variety and quality of content (variety of linked content, amount of dead links). Our top 3 for portals is (from first place to third); the standards map of ITC (www.standardsmap.org ), Worldbank (www.wbi.worldbank.org/), and the training platform of IFOAM (www.ifoam.org/growing_organic/7_training/training_platform_MainPage. html ).
Table 12: best scoring portals
26 | P a g e
Some good examples in portals www.imarkgroup.org (e-learning on managing information): Offers an ocean of information offered in a very clear way. Offers online learning with modules, offered in an attractive way. Is clear about what they offer and also recommend communities. Libraries Several libraries exist, offering downloadable material on for instance certification, production techniques, and value chain development. In our research we looked at 10 selected websites with library functionality, offering the user a collection of downloadable materials in the form of documents, audio visuals etcetera. We concentrated on those sites that offer a range of downloads, indexed in one or more categories and/or search functionality. See for the list of consulted libraries: http://fa2q.nl/libraries . Some libraries offer certification compliance content only (4C, Rainforest Alliance, Utz Certified). Several are member only: qualityxs.org; 4C, Cla@se. Some libraries have all materials available within their domain (4C, RA, Utz, Cla@se, qualityxs), others offer an indexed search in public (academic) libraries (CTA). Search functionalities Good search functionality is important for both portals and libraries. Especially if the topic range is broad, it is important to offer the opportunity to select a combination of criteria (language, topic, country, target group, type of material etc.). Unfortunately, few libraries offer such combined search functionality. For training purposes there is much material on offer as well within the viewed libraries. Indexation of materials is unfortunately scarce. A trainer or BDS often wants to search for modules for a specific target group or 27 | P a g e
training methodology. That is however rarely possible as search functionalities normally work on topic or language criteria. Quite a few libraries offer a mix of materials, from practical handbooks for farmers to value link approaches and research papers. As mentioned earlier site visitors unfortunately cannot search among these materials by target group or typology index. Limited indexing and search functionalities often result in long lists of potential interesting material (for 90% documents only). To be able to judge usability, the visitor will have to download materials one by one. Not a very attractive proposition, and especially not for people with slow and erratic internet connections. Topics on offer Biggest amount of topics in our 10 libraries are: production techniques, followed by certification requirements and product quality.
Table 13: topics offered on libraries
28 | P a g e
Libraries offering materials on certification seem to focus on standard compliance only. Whether these materials can be combined with a more integrated quality management approach is (yet) unclear. As mentioned earlier searching for documents using quality management as a filter is not possible. Type of material offered 8 out of the researched libraries offered content in the form of documents. Counting the total amount of publications on offer in the different libraries was not possible, but we estimate that 90% of all material is in the form of documents.
Table 14: Type of material offered
User rating Online libraries or portals sometimes also create the possibility for interactivity in the form of asking for rating (with 1-5 stars) and/ or writing a review. A system used by on- line shops like amazon.com. This could be well applicable for the Sustainability Standards Resource Center as a simple and effective approach to rating materials offered.
29 | P a g e
Only 1 out of 10 libraries presently offers this functionality (USAID) Library scoring Libraries were scored on: • attractiveness of landing page; • target group focus; • number of indexes in use and searchable; • ease and variety of search functionality. Our top 3 for libraries is www.qualityxs.org, followed by www.claase.org and the library of the 4C Association. All three libraries score high on indexing and search functionality. Sadly enough, all three are member only, and qualityxs.org is still in its’ pilot phase.
Table 15: best scoring libraries
30 | P a g e
Some good library practice Though not appearing in the top 3 of libraries because of limited search options and the site being difficult to find, we want to mention the SAN virtual library because: Content offered in many different languages. Yet some languages are very limited in content. Very attractive layout. Categorization by region Interesting sub-categorization by type of content: www.microlinks.kdid.org/ Offering an interesting combination of materials Lots of different materials in a 'fun' way and still clear and easy to find. www.organic-africa.net/oa-home.html FIBL's African Organic Agriculture Training Manual is setup in separate modules. Content of the Manual, supporting materials and training methodology are integrated. On the negative side: The main goal seems to be the promotion of FIBL's African Organic Agriculture Training Manual. - Some parts of the module downloads are dead hyperlinks. - Modules are not indexed. - Entire manual is not downloadable in 1 go.
31 | P a g e
Conclusions Based on our online research and interviews, we see the following aspects as key factors of success to a resource center in general: Site needs to be attractive and easy to use. Pictures on the landing page are appreciated; gets people in action Site needs to be a fast loader (light pictures (kb’s), stable background) Target group and target of the site, needs to be clear Different user interfaces for different services bring clarity to the visitor If the site offers different services (platform, library, portal, yellow pages), target and target groups of each service needs to be clearly stated. Be clear about site ownership, finance, and maintenance and hosting. The resource center needs to be an appropriate answer to the problem perceived. If this is an information problem, a library or portal corresponds best. If there is a need to learn from experiences and knowledge of others, an on-line platform is better. Consider starting with a regional focus, e.g. on Africa, and/or product focus. The coffee sector, according to Utz Certified and 4C associations, propose to take a head start. It needs a good combination of offerings like many different materials, text files, video and audio, and if possible links to communities The center should allow users to subscribe to newsletter and/or RSS feeds. Make use of other websites; do not pretend to be unique. If southern organizations/service providers are a target group organize local relevant information and news on the site; it increases the attractiveness. 32 | P a g e
Be clear about copyrights and how to use materials.
Success factors for a library or portal: Needs to be a central place where you can find quality material on topics you are interested in. Easily searchable and up-to-date. Needs to have different indexing options, to search for instance material by topic, methodology, and target group. Be very clear about upload criteria for materials, and conditions of use. Learn from existing initiatives, and copy success factors. If target group is practitioners and service providers than be careful with filling the site with research and policy documents as it reduces the usability Where possible, offer materials per language or region/sector. Quality check of materials offered is crucial. Standard or criteria used for the selection needs to be clear from the beginning and kept up to date In terms of information architecture (database setup, indexing), the following site owners should be consulted: CTA, Anancy, KIT, Qualityxs.org, ITC, Claase In terms of exchange of materials, the following institutions should be consulted: 4C, Utz Certified, SAN, IFOAM, CTA, Anancy, KIT, FAO, Organic-Africa.net, and Claase. For the Yellow pages, Organic-Africa.net, Organicstandard.com, IFOAM, Utz Certified, 4C, SAN.
33 | P a g e
Specific success factors for a platform or online community: People need to have something in common (a professional practice, goal in their work, similar learning question) Facilitation is of crucial importance for a lively interactive community. People will only visit an online platform if it helps them in their work. If that is the case they will also contribute. A clear problem tackled or question to be answered therefore helps. There has to be a balance in ‘bringing’ and ‘taking’. In smaller groups people exchange opinions easier, members feel safer. On the other hand, smaller groups imply also less input. So there needs to be a balance between a large community and work in smaller groups. A resource center has to be owned by the users. If not, it can only serve as a top down channel to provide information (e.g. from specialists to practitioners). A successful community encourages horizontal linkages. On-line activities have to be complemented with meeting Face-toFace (F2F). Formulate rules for communication at the platform. What should we NOT do? Do not attach this resource center to one of the Voluntary Standard Systems. Linking it too closely to one or the other might jeopardize the usability of the whole project. With regards to communities: don’t be technology driven. Often not the technique but the community is the bottleneck of an online resource center. Start small and build the technique and the community simultaneously. Not keeping the site up to date: Outdated news (invitation to a workshop held some time ago), dead links reduce attractiveness.
34 | P a g e
Avoid making combinations of commercial information, personal opinions and poorly indexed public information, making it difficult to judge impartiality of information. Avoid building a resource base with many resources with a weak search function and/or quality management. Portal links to external site works extremely slow. Unclear definition of words ('themes', ' books', 'collections', 'categories' 'regions') Do not (only) rely on e-discussions which are (only) e-mail based; they get lost in overloaded mailboxes. Avoid news-sections; these make sites noisy and unclear. If you want to collect and offer news or snippets, do that via RSS or personalized newsletters.
35 | P a g e
Conclusions and recommendations first phase feasibility study Main conclusions regarding assumptions The feasibility study towards a Sustainability Standards Resource Center was to verify the main assumptions of the concept note, and to establish the basis for a go/no-go decision. Our research shows sufficient interest in and commitment to the creation of a Sustainability Standards Resource Center as long as the Center is clearly linked to specific content and services. Half of the respondents also indicated to be willing to upload materials amongst which were leading standard setters and service providers. One of the assumptions in the concept note was that producers are struggling with standard compliance, and the improvement of management skills could support the compliance process. This is confirmed by the outcome of the questionnaire and the interviews as meeting certification requirements is not only indicated as an important topic, but also the number one topic most people are working on. Furthermore, participants confirmed that quality management supports compliance with standards. Needs assessment amongst stakeholders Second goal of this feasibility study was to get a clear overview of the needs of the different stakeholders. Interviews and online questionnaire indicate that a one-stop-library and links to existing websites (portal) attract most interest amongst stakeholders. 36 | P a g e
A material-upload service and yellow pages are also high ranking services that stakeholders are interested in. The questionnaire outcome gives a top 2 for most important capacity building topics, being business planning (19%) and production techniques (13%). Topics like financial systems (12%), management skills and certification requirements (both 11%) are strong followers. Recommendations We recommend the Steering Committees to continue and allow us to work on the second part of the Terms of Reference. In order to do so we would appreciate feedback on the following aspects. 1. Consider starting the Center with a regional focus, e.g. on Africa, and/or product focus. The coffee sector, according to Utz Certified and 4C associations, is willing to take a head start and could be considered for that role. 2. Consider starting the Center with the library and yellow pages service. 3. Connect the Center to existing sites with materials that are of interest to the stakeholders. 4. Regarding the governance and hosting of the Center avoid attaching it to one particular Standard System. Who could be the host and how to organize the governance structure needs further discussion. Feedback from the Committee, based on the indications given in this report, would be appreciated. Also if different options could be developed and presented to the Committee. 5. In terms of information architecture (database setup, indexing), make use of existing experiences. The following site owners should be consulted: CTA, Anancy, KIT, Qualityxs.org, ITC, Claase 6. In terms of exchange of materials, the following institutions should be consulted: 4C, Utz Certified, SAN, IFOAM, CTA, Anancy, KIT, FAO, Organic-Africa.net, Claase, otherwise the usability of the library becomes too low.
37 | P a g e
7. Regarding materials exchange and yellow pages service: please remember comments made on the position expressed by IFOAM and check with head office of Solidaridad. 8. For the Yellow pages, Organic-Africa.net, Organicstandard.com, IFOAM, Utz Certified, 4C, SAN are good examples and consider using the offer by Utz Certified to help develop this service technically.
38 | P a g e
Portfolio of services As mentioned earlier, the feasibility study indicated that the Resource Center should carry the following services: 1. One-stop library: with resources (via n upload service) and links to other libraries. Furthermore, a specific form of interactivity in the context of the library will be the rating of resources by community members (with 1-5 stars) and/ or the writing of reviews according to a system as used by on-line shops like amazon.com. Priority topics: business planning, production techniques, certification requirements, financial systems and management skills. 2. Yellow Pages: A directory of service providers (organizations and individuals) relevant to the field of sustainable trade, as a way to present themselves and be found. A system will be developed to increase their position in search results based on active contribution to the community (contributing material, participation in discussions and answers provided to community members). 3. A Community of Practice: Within the community of practices (COP), platforms per products and per region can be found including the interface for e-discussions, information sharing and webinars on overarching voluntary standards topics. To avoid duplication connections will be made to relevant existing communities or fore. It also allows users to move between communities and services offered by the Center. 4. Portal with hyperlinks: As a result of recent technical developments and based on further interviews with practitioners, we think that the following services are of additional value: 5. A news service: A collection of relevant RSS feeds recombined for different areas of expertise, using search terms. 6. Q&A service
39 | P a g e
One-stop library The Document Library provides access to public materials that are relevant to the selected topics (all linked to sustainable trade and certification). Target group or principle users are trainers, advisors and policy makers involved in the development and promotion of sustainable trade activities. In the first part of our feasibility study, we identified the following success factors for a library: Easily searchable and up-to-date. Needs to have different indexing options, to search for instance material by topic, methodology, and target group. Where possible, offer materials per language or region/sector. The sections Metadata and Controlled Vocabularies deal with these issues.
Needs to be a central place where you can find quality material on topics you are interested in. If target group is practitioners and service providers than be careful with filling the site with research and policy documents as it reduces the usability Be very clear about upload criteria for materials, and conditions of use. Quality check of materials offered is crucial. Standard or criteria used for the selection needs to be clear from the beginning and kept up to date.
The next section, Library filling and updating workflow, deals with these issues, and Library creating customized documents introduces a new and existing insight in finding and combining content from different sources.
Library: filling and updating work flow To start with documents will be added and updated to the library through: institutions with renowned relevant documentation centers and databases like 4C, Utz
40 | P a g e
Certified, SAN, IFOAM, CTA, Anancy, KIT, FAO, Organic-Africa.net, and Claase. Sharing documents by users of the resource center; RSS/RDF-feeds of existing databases (e.g. AGRIS) via a web based news crawler. An editorial team scanning the web using search alerts and RSS/RDF feeds.
Uploading work routing Proposed is to use the following work routine for uploading documents into the library:
41 | P a g e
A. Potential document becomes available via user or host, or found by news crawler. Document is uploaded to not-public repository for review. B. The resource center's automatic-tagging machine scans the document for key-words, and compares often used words with controlled vocabularies. Document and document sections are automatically indexed. C. Review team (with library skills) cross-checks automatic-tagging results. This will likely only be necessary for the first 6 months, in order to 'train' the automatic-tagging machine. Review team adds additional tags that an automatic tagging machine cannot recognize, like workshop target, target group, training methodology. D. Connected to tags, document is offered to dedicated user group, for systematic quality check. When deemed sufficient quality, document gets available to the public. E. Community of practice rates, and discusses the available documents. They may come up with additional material, or advice to remove the document because of quality concerns.
Library: creating customized documents Over time the documents of the library will cover a wide variety of topics and various sectors. The intended user target groups are primarily trainers, advisors and policy makers involved in the development of sustainable trade. These users look for materials to inform, train and influence their own target groups. To that end, they will want to customize their training content by selecting and combining relevant material from different source documents, and repackage it in applicable formats. This may be a training document, a brochure, manual, a factsheet, a new report or a website on a specific issue. Experience shows that building training material often requires multiple downloads from different sources. Sometimes only a small section of different documents is being processed. Downloading and scanning different source documents is tedious work, and internet intensive (read: 42 | P a g e
many MB's needed). It will be an added value if the Resource Center's library could facilitate this process of customized document retrieval, by offering the possibility of splitting documents into separate sections and recombining selected sections into new formats. Combining this service with an application for automatic tagging of documents and deep tagging of document sections, will give users suggestions on which document sections to look for, based on the key words that they provide.
43 | P a g e
Main advantages The service to create customized documents makes it much easier for users to combine texts or content from various sources. It will save time as identifying relevant sections is done quicker, there is less need to download entire documents and cutting and pasting relevant paragraphs. It might also bring new suggestions and improve the quality of (training) materials . At the same time it safes internet bandwidth thus improving the user experience tremendously. System requirements Providing this customized document service requires the following functionality: possibility to auto-tag documents and document sections (deep-tagging); possibility to split documents into separate sections; selection of sections and re-organizing and adaptation of selected sections; downloading of combined documents, or modular training material. Condition for the service is, however, that publication links to original source documents stay intact. Otherwise authors and publishers of documents won't agree on having their documents hosted on the Resource Center library or stop uploading new materials.
Library: search functionalities, metadata and controlled vocabularies Metadata Library organization and management is done via metadata. Metadata, including the contents of digital libraries. It takes the form of structured records, in a consistent standard format.
44 | P a g e
There are many different metadata formats, some simple, and some very complex. They can include information about many aspects of resources, including: description of the item: format, size, etc.; its subject or topic; author, title, publisher, date issued or modified, etc.; preservation or archiving information; and access rights, copyright, etc. The OAI-PMH (Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting) gives a framework by which metadata for different digital libraries and repositories can be combined and used together. http://www.openarchives.org/pmh. It is recommended to base the meta-data infrastructure of the resource center on this OAI-MPH protocol, in order to allow for future exchange with likeminded, complementary libraries. Controlled vocabularies Controlled vocabularies are a meta-data format often used as the basis for (meta data) indexation of documents. They are shaped as closed lists of named subjects (words and phrases) to help solve two main issues: the problem of two or more words that can be used to mean the same concept, like Fishing vessels/Fishing boats or Health risks/Health hazards; and the problem of two or more words that have the same spelling but represent different concepts, e.g. vessel (blood)/ vessel (fishing) or Ling (a heath plant)/Ling (fish of the cod family). Controlled vocabularies support a specialized service such as: browsing by keywords; country of coverage; searching by type of Document (patent, books, etc.); and
45 | P a g e
limiting search results to one or more specific years or language or semantic navigation within the result set based on keywords identified in controlled vocabularies.
They also systematize: ď‚ˇ auto-tagging, as key words in a document are compared with terms of the controlled vocabulary; ď‚ˇ hand-tagging, as the library team is forced to choose from the controlled vocabulary. Thus spelling mistakes and the 'vessel- boat', a Babel-like confusion, is avoided.
Library advice In order to organize the library's content in a concise way, allow exchanges with other libraries and facilitate multi-language access, the Resource Center needs to be setup on a framework of existing and open metadatavocabulary, or so called Controlled Vocabularies. Creating customized documents Given the experience and techniques behind news-crawlers, document splitting programs, combined with auto-tagging and deep-tagging programs, a customized document service integrated into a content management system will be possible. The required functionality is, however, not a standard feature for open source content management systems. In the starting up period of the resource center therefore human backup and quality control needs to be available. Metadata and controlled vocabularies The thematic focus of the Resource Center is: agricultural practices, certification, quality management and target group focus for training purposes. The Center should therefore minimally be built on 1 or more controlled vocabularies:
46 | P a g e
For Quality Management terms, we are still looking for an existing multilingual vocabulary. ISO 2 is such vocabulary, but is not freely available in digital format and subject to copy rights. The Resource Center may need to setup such vocabulary by itself for the moment. For agricultural indexing, it is advisable to make use of Agrovoc: AGROVOC is the corporate thesaurus of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). It covers topics related to the interest of FAO, including agriculture, forestry, fisheries, environment and related domains. AGROVOC is a multilingual resource, available in 19 languages (translations into 5 languages is under development). It contains an average of 40.000 terms in each of the available languages. Agrovoc is OAI MPH compliant. For indexing training material (with terms referring to target, target group, methodology, type of training material) we have not found a suitable controlled vocabulary either. This section also refers to training material for certification. For this part suitable vocabulary probably needs to be developed in house.
Directory (Yellow pages) In view of the needs identified in the first part of the study and the proposed integrated approach, it is important to develop a directory of institutions and experts involved in the field of sustainable trade. This directory or Yellow Pages should carry the following functionalities: Possibility to search and select institutions or experts based on field of expertise (e.g. Agrovoc terms), target group, type of institution, and language. Have a clear relation between documents in the resource center and institutions / experts that are the authors or publishers of these documents. As users of the resource center will be part of the lists of experts, the activities/messages of experts in the resource center community could also be shown. This implies that all contributions
47 | P a g e
(documents, articles/stories, forum messages) of a specific user/expert can be shown in an overview. create a link to the communities to stimulate discussion on documentation available in the Center or services offered by people mentioned in the Yellow Pages.
Yellow pages application and update routine On the Yellow Pages, service providers should be able to post information on their activities on institutional and/or personal level. It keeps the service attractive and up-to-date. We propose the following workflow:
48 | P a g e
A. Applicant institution and/or individual expert completes a profile (online form). Compulsory information includes: a. Name and contact information Type of services offered Working languages b. Accreditation against which standards Area of activities / methodology used Product scope An example application form can be found by clicking here, an example profile can be found here. B. Information is cross checked by relevant stakeholders and references for correctness. C. Approved expert profile becomes publicly visible on the Yellow Pages section of the Resource Center. D. Expert starts contributing part to the Community of Practice on voluntary basis, and with that enforces the Community of Practice, and his/her own credibility. See 4. Portfolio of services, integrated solution. E. Expert earns 'credits' dependent on his/her activity rate on the Community of Practice. The more credits, the more prominent the expert shows on the Yellow Pages. F. Expert refreshes his/her profile on an annual base. Expired profiles stay online for half a year before being removed automatically.
Community In the feasibility study report, we identified several success factors for an online community: People need to have something in common (a professional practice, goal in their work, similar learning question) and the community needs to help them in their work. There has to be a balance in ‘bringing’ and ‘taking’. Facilitation is of crucial importance for a lively interactive community. In smaller groups people exchange opinions easier, members feel safer. On the other hand, smaller groups imply less input. A balance between community sizes is recommended (see examples from Helvetas) 49 | P a g e
A successful community encourages horizontal linkages Where possible combine internet communities with Face-2-Face sessions.
Points of departure The success factors can also be seen as push and pull factors. Also for marketing reasons the resource center surely needs a push factor from the beginning. Establishing intensive relations with users is one of those push arguments. There are also pull arguments to cherish good relations with users: the resource center wants users to contribute material they have used (upload service / library) and through the communities express opinions and debate methodologies (maybe even use the rating of documents to topics discussed in the communities). The Center can play a role in peer assist and encourage interactivity not only by rating and reviewing material but also by answering questions of peers via the communities. And last but not least the resource center can serve as a feedback channel between service providers and certification organizations. The resource center will develop (and ‘ own’) an interface on which discussions and webinars take place on overarching topics related to voluntary standards, production techniques etc., but should also link to existing fora. Avoiding duplication is important and it encourages other fora to visit the Center for its content. Bringing and taking As mentioned before a successful community encourages horizontal linkages between members. To make this happen there needs to be a balance in ‘bringing’ and ‘taking’. Therefore a variety of instruments to share experiences and information needs to be used; blogs, news, events, photos 50 | P a g e
and videos. Especially among service providers the use of social media and interactive methodologies is growing and should be included in the Center. Facilitation Facilitation is of crucial importance for a lively interactive community and experience showed that one person or organization functions as a motor of the community. As the resource center will not be in charge of facilitating all communities the above needs to be applied to the overarching community. It is important that the Center (facilitator) receives feedback to adjust the service where needed. It is therefore recommended to connect with experienced facilitators of communities like Helvetas and others not only when setting up the Center, but also while running it.
Portal The portal section hosts hyperlinks to external third party websites. The Portal section serves as additional service to users of the Resource Center, to quickly jump to other relevant sites to avoid duplication and improve Synergy between services and with existing internet services. The Portal section also serves to access websites with copyrighted documents that cannot be included in the Center's library. To host relevant links, the portal section: ď‚ˇ Needs to be easily searchable (clear selection criteria) and be kept up-todate; Needs to have different indexing options, to search for instance material by topic, methodology, and target group; ď‚ˇ Be very clear about linkage criteria for materials; Lead to practical external content; ď‚ˇ Where possible, offer materials per language or region/sector; Quality check of links offered is crucial.
News service In order to strengthen the relation between the different services offered and attract users to the different services it is recommended to start a news 51 | P a g e
service. It can be expected that at first users will primarily visit the center to search documents or look for specific expertise. However, they are probably also interested to know the latest developments for their particular field of work. This can be achieved through the use of RSS. The center should therefore collect relevant RSS feeds and recombine the items for different areas of expertise, using search terms. These RSS feeds should be displayed on the website of the center. You can also offer the option to subscribe and receive the results by email. Additionally you can develop the option that users enter their own search question. The results could be displayed in a new RSS feed or alternatively automatically send to their email addresses. This is a personalized news service which could stimulate people to use and visit the Center more often.
Q&A service A Question and Answer service is different from a Community in the sense that it allows (anonymous) users to ask specific questions, and get answers from a team of experts. Even beginners questions can be dealt with in a far easier way than in a community. The Q&A service will function in addition to the 'reward' system for the Yellow Page advertisers.
Synergy between services and with existing internet services Synergy between services The experience with libraries and communities shows that people will only visit a new site when the information provided is useful for them. If that is the case the chance that users will also contribute to the further development of the Resource Center grows significantly. We consider the connection and interrelation between the services crucial. The services support and strengthen each other and the interconnection is the real added value to the Resource Centre project. A library by itself is just another library. Even if that library contains a superior search and find 52 | P a g e
function. The library in connection to an active community with discussions on content, becomes an attractive place to visit. The community plays a supportive role for the Yellow Page service as well. Yellow Page experts may position themselves better through their activity in the community. If people only post their profile, the Yellow Pages functions as advertorial service only. The feasibility research indicated that the majority of Yellow Pages on the internet is outdated and advertisers don't keep their information fresh. When people on the Yellow Pages are stimulated to take part in the community, they will be more inclined to keep their profile fresh. In turn, the community of practice is strengthened by the library feeding into the discussions, and the library facility to upload and exchange content (see Library: filling and updating work flow).
53 | P a g e
Synergy with existing internet services Where the resource center's services should be integrated, the resource center should avoid to be a standalone facility. Many communities already exist, some hosting very lively and interesting discussions. The resource center should be embedded and integrated with existing platforms, and a place from where users can be redirected to external communities, or find a quick overview over current discussions (portal function) Below please find an overview of resource center services, interrelation between services, embedding in the wider internet community, and internal information flows.
54 | P a g e
Technical solutions In modern web-technology, web-content and web-administration are dealt with in so called Content Management Systems or CMS. The majority of available CMS's work online, meaning that the technical and content management can be done from any place in the world and from any computer that is connected to the internet. There are about 1200, possibly more, CMS's to choose from to create an online resource center. It is impossible to test and compare them all. We therefore recommend the steering group to focus and decide on a couple of key questions and key functionalities the technical solution should carry. This narrows down the search and selecting the appropriate CMS becomes feasible. In our view the following five key factors are important: 1. Portfolio of services on the resource center: library, community of practice, yellow pages, calendar, news server. 2. Usability: functional richness, robustness -e.g. simplicity of installation and reliability-, user-friendliness, flexibility and/or use of openness to global standards. 3. Sustainability: mandate and continuing presence of developer (onsite or commercial) or development community (open source software); and continuing availability of local technical support or pricing policy (commercial solution). 4. Strategic Value: mandate of developer; foreseeable future of the technology; nature of the user community and the user environment. 5. Connectivity: a substantial amount of potential users copes with limited bandwidth and erratic internet connections.
55 | P a g e
Key 1: portfolio of services Library Document repository software is the most common feature when setting up a library. This type of software generally provides open access to scientific research outputs and literature by creating document repositories. They are mostly hosted and managed by libraries of universities, governmental, international or research organizations and the main feature of this approach is that they are OAI-PMH compliant Community of practice, Yellow Pages, Calendar, Q&A service Specialized document repository services are less relevant to the Community of practice, the Yellow Pages and the Interactive Calendar that the resource center aims to host. For ease of use of the administrators and web managers and for unity in web-layout it is strongly recommended to look for one CMS that can host all required services. News service A dedicated news service minimally requires RSS based technology. Especially in open source software groups there are interesting practices found.
Key 2: usability Usability relates to functional richness, user-friendliness, flexibility (= usability experience for the end-users). Usability for administration purposes relates to, robustness -e.g. simplicity of installation and reliability, and use and/or openness to global standards. For the end user, the following requirements are important (see feasibility study): ď‚ˇ Easily searchable and up-to-date. ď‚ˇ Needs to have different indexing options, to search for instance material by topic, methodology, and target group, language and/or region/sector. 56 | P a g e
The usability for administrators seems less important on first sight, yet determines to a large extend the willingness and enthusiasm with which administrators will keep updating the resource center. It is very likely that a larger international team will be administrating the center, because the different services require different qualifications and language skills. The cost structure and sustainability of the CMS is directly related to these factors. Usability and sustainability are therefore strongly related. For the library, openness to global standards refers to library requirements, especially the use of OAI-PMH compatible metadata. Also for the Yellow Pages and the News server, openness to global standards is an important issue. Harvesting information requires the use of open global standards at third party sites. But if the Resource Center truly wants to function as global service center to other initiatives, the use of open global standards is a must for the center as well. Open global standards are imperative when seeing the fast moving developments in Library and IT environments. See as well Key 4: strategic value.
Key 3: sustainability of CMS The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations FAO has broad experience in CMS development and use for agricultural information management. From their websites, we learn that the tools they created show particular advantages and more importantly several disadvantages: ď‚ˇ CMS based on proprietary languages/platforms caused sustainability problems (discontinuity of services as a result of major new software releases, or collapse of software developer); ď‚ˇ CMS's written from scratch either in house or by consulting companies created a dependency on these developers. It made maintenance and
57 | P a g e
improvements costly and lengthy. Dependency on developers is often conflicting with Key 2: usability, and Key 4: strategic value. CMSâ€™ written on an ad hoc basis and for specific needs, tailored to existing database standards, are not easily extendable to support open global standards again causing maintenance, usability and sustainability issues.
Looking at this experience and specifically looking at sustainability, the preferred choice would be to select an open source CMS, tailored to the needs, or have it tailored to agricultural, quality management needs and sustainable standards.
Key 4: strategic value Strategic value of the technical solution depends on a combination of usability (nature of the administration and user community), foreseeable future of the technology needed to support the portfolio of services, and the user's IT environment as described under connectivity. As all these values point in the direction of open source software and global standards, it won't be a surprise that we advise the same under strategic value.
Key 5: Connectivity Taking into account the potential users of the resource center, a significant number of them copes with limited bandwidth and erratic internet connections. Especially in Africa internet connectivity is low. The technical setup of the Resource Center has to take connectivity serious. Experience with other libraries (KIT, FAQ, FAO) are good examples of the difficulties faced. Interested users generally find the website, and may even be able to select materials for download, but fail to perform the actual download. Either speed of internet is too slow or bandwidth too narrow, and connections are reset halfway a download. Or a power cut forces the user to start the download process from zero again. Very frustrating, and after one 58 | P a g e
or two such experiences, the user will blame the website and will not come back again for its services. In Europe, the use of freeware and open source software is becoming more and more common. Excellent and free virus protectors, firewalls and other utilities are easy to download. Exchange of big files (movies, music, software), is abundant. With special exchange software and a fast connection, one downloads 4 Gig in half a day. For users with poor internet connections it is almost impossible to experience these benefits. The server setup of the Resource Center should anticipate this situation by: offering the best possible search and selection services. offering library splitting and combining services, and; offering downloads via alternative and stable low speed freeware file exchange solutions. Connectivity issues require the use of open source software, and free exchange software. P2P software There is quite some peer-to-peer (P2P) software available enabling exchange files, movies, music etcetera. P2P networks are often used for illegal (copyrighted) file transfers . The same technology can be put to use by the Resource Center for legal exchange of content. P2P techniques are very convenient as well in low connectivity situations. P2P software on the supplier side (host server) supplies files in the form of hundreds or thousands individual bits. These bits are exchanged in random order, and 'glued' together again at the clients computer. As bits are exchanged in random order, the exchange process can deal with internet and power cuts. Once connection is established again, the exchange continues from where it was interrupted. Dependent on document size and quality of connection at the clients’ side, such file exchange may take seconds, or minutes or days with or without several interruptions.
59 | P a g e
P2P solutions are most often op source, legal to install both on the supplier side (the Resource Center) as on the clientsâ€™ side. User packages are normally limited to a couple of hundred kb's, available for all platforms (Windows, Mac, Android, and Linux), and install and function automatically without difficult handling or installation instructions. Examples are UTorrent and Bittorrent, Gnutella, eDonkey2000, and Freenet. More information is available on Wikipedia. For the Resource Center it is important to select a package that is compatible with server configuration, CMS and IT policies of the implementing agency.
60 | P a g e
Governance and hosting This chapter deals with question 6 of the terms of reference: to identify suitable institutional / operational setups of the Resource Center (implementation, hosting, legal status, governance, contractual relations), and where relevant their pros and cons. In order to come to a suitable operational and institutional setup it is important to first identify the different tasks and responsibilities involved in the Resource Center, and skills needed.
Operational aspects of the Center The main aspect is building the Center and all its functionalities and the maintenance of the Center’s services. This requires not only specific knowledge, but also experience with managing complex projects. The setup should at least be able to: Carry out complex project management (responsible for drafting implementation plan, oversee execution, organize accountability to governing body, financial management, advice on further strategic directions) Have sufficient and specific IT skills: the Resource Center is a web based instrument and needs specific expertise related to website development, content management, connectivity, community development. Software knowledge especially related to library and yellow pages function Experience with operating in multidisciplinary teams / use ad hoc and longer term working groups Experience with multi-stakeholder setting
Governance aspects of the Center From project idea to implementation is quite a step especially when dealing with a multi stakeholder approach and setting. It requires a clear governing 61 | P a g e
structure that is representative of the stakeholders and users the Center plans to serve. The tasks of the governing body are: Supervising the implementation both on content and financial aspects Hiring the implementing partner or person Decide on proposed work plans and budget for implementation Strategic management / decision making; both on content as finance Consultation of stakeholders on strategic issues / further development of Centre Communication with multi-stakeholder / multiple user groups on development of Centre Governance in a multi stakeholder setting also requires specific communication skills as people operate in a multi-cultural setting and represent a variety of needs.
Separate implementation from governance Taking all the above into account, it makes sense to separate the implementation (hosting) and operational management of the Centre from the governance. Governance Current donors / founding fathers of the Centre could join forces and set up a separate legal structure that owns the Resource Centre. The structure should have an executive board representing the donors and if possible also a stakeholder representation, and could work with an Advisory Council. The board hires an implementing agency based on a ToR (and tender) that reflects the specific roles, technical skills and experiences needed to set up and maintain the Centre. The implementing agency could be one party or a coalition of organizations and could, over time, be transferred to a commercial partner. The Board watches over the process (implementation of the project/setting up of center= approving annual work plan and budget prepared by 62 | P a g e
implementing agency; receive work updates to allow for monitoring implementation) and decides on strategic development of the Centre. The Board can use an Advisory Council to consult strategic issues with a broad range of stakeholders / users of the Centre. To keep it workable we advise to create a relatively small board with a maximum of 5 members. The members represent the founding donors (SECO/Helvetas, IDH, Hivos?), Iseal as the one representing standard owners, someone with IT / virtual library experience (could be ITC) and a member representing service providers. They could meet 4 x a year with the implementing agency. The Advisory Council could meet 1 - 2 x a year and deal with strategic questions and, where needed, discuss encountered bottlenecks. The Council is a broader group representing all stakeholders involved in the Centre. Separately the implementing agency can use small working groups to get input on content questions, look for practical solutions, test new aspects of the services etc. Advantage is that it is quick, could stay rather informal, time bound and pragmatic. For instance, a small group could support the implementing agency in for instance developing and testing the controlled vocabularies, or look into rating possibilities for the yellow pages. Implementation The table below lists the different roles that an implementing agency should fulfill in implementing and running the Resource Center. One person may perform multiple roles, and or different organizations may work together in a joint venture.
63 | P a g e
Implementing skills and expertise Ideally you want one institution or organization that can carry out all roles and connect to the different stakeholders. Until now there is not one party that logically represents all skills, expertise and network connections needed and is seen as neutral by the different stakeholder groups. ISEAL does represent part of the stakeholders and by many others is looked upon as relatively neutral, has sufficient experience to govern a multi stakeholder project, but lacks skills and experience with the technical aspects of setting up and maintaining the Centre – especially as the different services offered by the Center require an integral technical and content management approach. Some NGO’s have good understanding of setting up and using learning communities (Helvetas for instance), but lack some of the other skills. Research institutions like KIT have excellent understanding and experience with virtual libraries, knowledge of newest IT technologies etc., but are not in the position to host the Center on all its aspects. Another aspect is that in the beginning the Center needs funding by donor agencies (most likely more than 1) and only later in ‘life’ can move to a sustainable economic model (even if this means partly donor funded and partly income generating) with a specific owner. The technical hosting of the Resource Center could be taken up by an alliance of organizations that combine rolls, skills and expertise. This could work well, especially in the first implementing phase.
Advice We recommend the Steering Committee to consider splitting the governance from the technical hosting of the Resource Center. It will allow the Center to reach the required independence and neutrality, ownership by stakeholders while at the same time guaranteeing optimal technical solutions for the identified services.
64 | P a g e
Business model and strategic alliances Throughout the report we mentioned factors for success or failure for a website in general, and for certain services in particular. Some of these factors also have a bearing on the financial sustainability of the Resource Center. To forecast the financial sustainability of the Center, however, continues to be rather difficult. Experiences show that people do not easily pay for services that they see as public goals for instance. In this chapter we indicate a few possible routes, among which strategic alliances, cost containment and income generating activities, that should be explored to work towards financial sustainability of the Center.
Strategic alliances Why start far away trying to find people who want to advertise or otherwise financially support the Center, when you have several interested parties nearby? Other experiences show that once a support base is created, several of its participants are willing to invest time and money in building or maintaining services. For the Resource Center you could say that both the promoters (civil society, sustainable standard owners, possibly commercial organisations), and potential users could form that support base. The proposed governance structure should be used to lay the foundation for a solid support base that is willing to invest in time and money in building the Center. Furthermore, these actors can play a role in further promoting the Center and its services. They can liaise with a user network and find new contributors. Looking at the proposed services, especially the uploading and indexation (tagging) of document in the library will be a laborious task. A strategic alliance with a group of interested standard owners may come in handy here. Both from a point of view of distribution of tasks, as from a content / language point of view. Ideally they would invest time in supporting the 65 | P a g e
Center's host in identifying and indexation of documents. Most standard owners already have their own (limited and often standard focused) library that should be used as first input for the Resource Center. Most standard owners also have staff worldwide that may support the laborious indexing exercise and point out particular language issues that need to be addressed.
Cost containment After the first and costly establishment period, it will be a matter of keeping running costs low, while generating income from other sources. The Content Management System (CMS) largely determines the long term running costs, as explained under Key 3: sustainability of CMS. It is therefore advised to select an open source CMS, tailored to the needs, or have it tailored to agricultural, quality management needs and sustainable standards. This surely contributes to containing costs. Strategic alliance forming may be another way of keeping running costs low. Most labor-intensive parts of the resource Center are Library and Community of Practice. As mentioned earlier, if standard owners, multi stakeholder initiatives and network organisations are willing to put work time in these services, it will reduce implementation costs, but also make the services customer friendly. Furthermore, other tasks can be shared as well, like co-moderation of Communities of Practice, quality assessment of documents etc. and it will greatly enhance commitment to the project. Another route is of course pursuing synergy between services and with existing Internet services. Making the community co-responsible for content and quality of content, and by building in incentives for active participation of users, is the best way of improving effectiveness, while keeping costs low.
Income generating activities Although the resource Center is not for profit, and in first instance financed from public resources, it is important to work towards financial sustainability without fully depending on donor funding. You could say that 66 | P a g e
using public resources for public goals is justifiable, yet, the resource Center operates in a commercial arena. Therefore, financial commitment of a wider group of interested actors (commercial players, standard owners, multi stakeholder initiatives, network organisations, certification bodies) should be logical and welcomed. Additionally, the Center may be able to raise income through commercial activities. Below please find a table with potentially income generating activities that could be tried when setting up the Center. potentially income generating activities that could be tried when setting up the Center. Income generating activity Pro Con Allows smaller and unexpected advertisers to co-finance; May have a negative effect on lay Google ads Allows for very specific out and usability regional and content advertisements at no cost. Difficult to implement as online bank payments and credit card services are scarce in Africa; Market conform, user pays User pays per download Will be an extra hurdle for for what he needs interested downloaders; Conflicting with open source and creative commons Could also increase costs as this would need a certain quality control; Market conform, user pays User pays for online advise Could be considered as working for what he needs against principle of working in a community (questions and answers are for all). Standard owners co-finance Market conform, standard Could jeopardize independent 67 | P a g e
Certification bodies co-finance
Traders, retail organisation (Ahold, Coop) and/or trade organisations (GlobalGap, BRC etc.) co-finance Multi stakeholder initiatives (IDH) and Network organisations (Solidaridad, COLEACP) cofinance Yellow Page advertisers pay annual fee
Q&A service on behalf of standard owners and/or certification bodies, with Q&A integrated in their respective websites
News service for third parties, hosted on respective websites
owners are interested in wider market share Market conform, certification bodies are interested in wider market share Market conform, these actors are interested in wider market share of sustainable products and cope with lack of information
In conformity with market
status of the Center;
Could jeopardize independent status of the Center;
Could jeopardize independent status of the Center;
May favour Western or larger consultancies
More efficient use of existing services Hosted on third party sites, so not affecting independent status More efficient use of existing services Hosted on third party sites, so not affecting independent status
68 | P a g e
Advice Our online questionnaire of 2011, and exploratory and informal discussions over the past months with some of the actors mentioned in our table with income generating activities show a keen interest in a Resource Center. Yet, financial and/or in kind contributions are made dependent on many conditions, conditions that most often cannot be met or proven upfront. An informal collaboration between 4C Alliance, Rainforest Alliance, Utz and FLO for instance, is talking about joining efforts to establish a Learning Alliance. This Alliance may well make use of (some) of the services of the Resource Center. Also here, clear commitment is made dependent on choices that yet have to be made by the Center and level of service performance that cannot be shown yet. To be more precise, demands are made regarding choices that still have to be made by the current commissioners Seco, Helvetas, IDH and Hivos. It is therefore advised to establish the Resource Center as fast as possible and secure funding for the first two years. Right from the start, the organisations behind the Resource Center should actively pursue all options for strategic alliances, explore the income generating activities and where possible condition alliance partners to co-finance the implementation of the Center. For future sustainability a solid business plan needs to be made. It is advised that after the public introduction, the Center's board and implementing agency should work on establishing that business plan to make the Center independent from its initial funders.
69 | P a g e
Conclusions and recommendations second phase feasibility study Below are the conclusions and recommendations as put forward for approval by the research team. Most recommendations were taken over by the commissioning committee of Hivos, IDH, Seco and Helvetas in their meeting of April 5 2012. Deviating and additional decisions by the commissioning team are in Italic.
Portfolio of services Develop and promote synergies between the services of the resource center. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Consider the possibility of creating customized documents, through automatic deep tagging techniques.
Technical solutions, supporting the portfolio of services The Resource Center should be setup on a framework of existing and OAIPMH compliant metadata-vocabulary, or so called Controlled Vocabularies: ď‚ˇ For Quality Management terms, ISO 2; is such a vocabulary, but is not freely available in digital format and subject to copy rights. For the moment, the Resource Center may need to setup a vocabulary by itself. ď‚ˇ For agricultural indexing use Agrovoc. ď‚ˇ For indexation of training material in-house development is needed. Make use of open source software, tailored to the needs, or have it tailored to agricultural, quality management and sustainable standard needs. For ease of use by the administrators and web managers and for unity in web-layout it is strongly recommended to look for one CMS that can host all required services. Make use of peer-to-peer software exchange solutions. 70 | P a g e
Governance and hosting Recommended is to separate the implementation (hosting) and operational management of the Center from the governance. Current donors / founding fathers of the Center could join forces and set up a separate legal structure that owns the Resource Center. To keep it workable we advise to create a relatively small executive board with a maximum of 5 members. The Executive Board represents the donors and stakeholders and could install an Advisory Council for feedback on strategic issues from a broader range of stakeholders. The Executive Board hires an implementing agency based on a ToR (and tender) that reflects the specific roles, technical skills and experiences needed to set up and maintain the Center. The implementing agency could be one party or a coalition of organizations and could, over time, be transferred to a commercial partner. Comments and decision of the commissioning committee: Agreed is to opt for one central organization (governance platform) responsible for delivery. Central organization will commission implementation to an implementing agency or implementing consortium. Preference is to have 1 central organization hosting the center, with subcontracting dependent on services required.
Implementation The Resource Center has unlimited possibilities and the services can deal with a large number of topics, commodities, languages etc. This is a very ambitious goal. Our study has shown a few conditions which we want to highlight here: ď‚ˇ In order to ensure the link between the users and the Center it is therefore important to launch with certain (controlled) minimum amount of content. For the same reason it is important to start with several 71 | P a g e
services at the same time (library, yellow pages, community, portal and news service) to allow for synergy. In order to ensure a strong link between the users and the Center people need to find information quickly, get clear indications of the scope of the information available and be able to use all services. In order not to disappoint first visitors in the setting up phase, we recommend to launch the Center with all services but with a certain (controlled) minimum amount of content and a clear plan for broadening the scope.
Decided is to invite all interested organizations (feasibility study) and standard owners to share what they have. The focus of the resource center is on quality management, and nĂłt on a certain commodity or certification service. If in practice it turns out that certain commodities move faster than others, that is accepted. The interest shown by the strategic alliance of 4C, Utz, RA and FLO is welcomed. It doesnâ€™t make sense to compete.
72 | P a g e
Annex 1 List of websites scored (also online available allowing for sorting and filtering at www.fa2q.nl/all_sites_reviewed)
OWNER ICCO, SECO, Textile Exchange and HELVETAS 4C 4C coffee association Agricord Agrinatura AgriProfocus AgriProfocus Anneke Teunissen Bas van Riet Cordaid CTA CTA CTA EAFCA FAO FAO FIBL Gunnar Rundgren, Grolink IFOAM International trading Centre ISEAL ALLIANCE KIT Michiel Schoenmakers/FMS ministerie van onderwijs Progreso Rainforrest Alliance SCAN Seco, ITC, BSD consulting, Leading standards SEEP State Secretariat for Economic Affairs Switzerland
URL www.organiccotton.org/ https://platform.4c-coffeeassociation.org http://www.4c-coffeeassociation.org/ www.agricord.org www.esfim.org www.genderinvaluechains.ning.com/ www.apf-kenya.ning.com/ www.claase.org http://www.dutchtrainingprofessionals.nl/ www.cordaidpartners.com/ www.cta.int www.cta.esmarthosting.net/ www.anancy.net/ www.eafca.org/ www.imarkgroup.org/ www.fao.org/corp/knowledgeforum/en/ www.organic-africa.net/oa-home.html http://www.organicstandard.com www.ifoam.org/growing_organic/7_training/training_platform_Mai nPage.html www.standardsmap.org/en/ www.isealalliance.org/ www.portals.kit.nl http://qualityxs.org/user/ www.wikiwijs.nl www.progresonetworkenglish.ning.com/ www.sustainableagriculturetraining.org/virtual_library http://www.sustainablecommodities.org/scan
Sustainable Commodities Initiative USAID Utz and Solidaridad VO Raad Worldbank
http://www.sustainablecommodities.org/cosa/update www.microlinks.kdid.org/ www.utzcertified-trainingcenter.com http://www.prodocent.nl/ www.wbi.worldbank.org/
International ValueLinks Association e.V
Swiss Development cooperation
AKVO Learning network on capacity Development
Dutch dev organizations
ICCO Knowledge management for Development
Annex 2 Criteria used for scoring portals, libraries and platforms 3.2. Does the site take the needs of the target group(s) in account? Tone and manner of communication Speed of use (big pictures, big downloads) Content (academic material, practical material, variety of materials)
1. Membership Open to all Open with free subscription Open with paid subscription Available to members only Other... If access is limited upon conditions or membership, please write which conditions:
4. Quality and activity on the platform 4.1 What content is hosted on the platform? News Blogs Forums Links to resources Member pages Member profiles Other...
2. Attractiveness 2.1 How attractive do you judge the site is for: Farmers Farmer groups NGO's Trainers, trainer organizations Commercial organizations
4.2 Ease of use Is content categorized? Can the user easily search for content or categories?
2.2 Loading speed of landing page Pop ups and other obtrusive elements throughout the site Ease of identifying the authority of authors Ease of identifying the currency of the site Ease of identifying the last update of the site Ease of identifying what was updated
4.3 Quality variety and activity rate How do you judge the quality of the content? How (inter)active is the user community? How varied is the user community? 4.4 How many active users? 2-okt 20 - 30 30 - 100 100 and more
2.3 How up to date is the site overall? How up to date are the hyperlinks (check some 5 links)? Can users take a subscription in the form of an RSS feed? Are newsletters offered? Does the site indicate which target groups are targeted?
5. Identity of users The platform is used by a clearly defined group of professionals Professionals are known (Facebook option) and/ or pages for members Connected via LinkedIn Professionals are identified via their email Anonymous use is possible Other...
3. Target group focus 3.1 What target groups are indicated or do you think are targeted Audit body Agribusiness Certification body Development agency Multi stakeholder forum Processing and trade Producer group Standard setter Trade Union Trainer or training organization Other...
6. What content is hosted on the portal? Hyperlinks to other sites Collection of content, content hosted on other sites Overview of (sustainability) standards with categories Other...
10. If there is categorized search functionality, what indexes or categories or labels are available? Target Target group Content Workshop methodology Author Publisher Publish date User feedback Certification specific Other...
7. What is the quality of the portal content? Hyperlinks to other sites Collection of content, content hosted on other sites Overview of (sustainability) standards with categories Search functionality Possibility to compare search results 8. In case of a library, what downloadable content is offered? Production techniques Product quality Financial systems Price setting mechanisms Administration Management skills Market developments Business planning Certification requirements Other...
11. Ease of search How do you judge the search functionality of the site? Is content categorized? Can the user easily make a combination of categories? 12. Content Management Who provides the content of the site? Who safeguards the quality of content?
9. What types of content is offered for download? Documents (Word, Excel, PDF) Presentation (PowerPoint) Audio (Podcasts, Audio-CD, MP3) Visual (Video, DVD, Screencast) Other...
Annex 3 List of interviewed persons PSO, The Netherlands Rob van Poelje, manager PSO capacity building in developing countries GIZ, Kenya, Nairobi Joachim Weber, Technical advisor Oxfamnovib, The Netherlands Henk Peters, program coordinator food and income security South and South East Asia Independent consultants, The Netherlands Simon Koolwijk, consultant capacity development and learning Joitske Hulsebosch, consultant on CoPs Dominicus college Nijmegen, The Netherlands Janus Kolen, ICT coordinator Alliance of 7 secondary schools in Nijmegen Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation, Switserland Frank Eyhorn, Knowledge manager Andrea Bishof, facilitator CoP organic cotton Royal Tropical Institute (KIT), Value chain portal Hettie Verhagen head dept. Information and library service section information products Wiebe de Boer in charge of the portals for value chain development, rural information and laboratory quality strengthening ICCO and FSAS Angelica Senders, consultant Capacity development and learning FSAS Agri-profocus Roel Snelder, network facilitator Kenya and Uganda IICD Saskia Harmsen, in charge of the program ‘I train online’ Twin/Cla@se Anneke Theunissen, in charge of the Cla@se program and general producer support CAFENICA Martha Estella Gutierrez, executive director Cafenica and financial manager CLAC coffee network Junta Nacional de Café, Peru Susanna Schuler, in charge of producer support program and SCAN Peru CLAC, producer network Latin America Xiomara Paredes, operational manager CLAC
ISEAL Kristin Komives, monitoring and evaluation manager Paddy Doherty, assurance code manager IDH Jordy van Honk, program manager tea and cashew Matthieu Guemas, program director Amanda Stone, senior program manager cotton Utz Certified Daan de Vries, field development FLO Cert Frank Brinkschneider, senior manager Van Weely/Douqueâ€™s Koffie Norbert Douque, owner â€“ senior coffee trader 4C Annette Pensel, director sustainability innovations Lars Kahnert, support manager co-financing
Annex 4 List of respondents on the online questionnaire Organisation 1iomara Paredes 4C Coffee Association Agrorganics Anchor-Consult Asal Jaya, PT Asociación Aldea Global Jinotega Asociación de Cooperativas de Pequeños Productores de Café de Nicaragua (CAFENICA) ASOCIACIÓN DE PRODUCTORES CAFETALEROS JUAN MARCO EL PALTO ASOCIACIÒN REGIONAL DE PRODUCTORES DE CACAO TUMBES Atlantic Commodities Vietnam BCI bio.inspecta AG Business Watch Indonesia CAFE1PORT CENFROCAFE CENFROCAFE CERES GmbH CETPRO LA FLORIDA Civil Society Biofuels Forum
Name 1iomara Paredes Jan van Hilten Juan Matta Annemieke Wijn Hariyanto Diédericks Gadea Martha Estela Gutiérrez Cruz
Country of head office El Salvador
Germany Indonesia Nicaragua NICARAGUA
ITALO MONTENEGRO DELGADO
HELIO ALEJANDRO GUERRERO ALBERCA Jean-Christophe Mani MURONGO MARIUS Bernd Jauch Nanang Christianto FRANCISCO BUSTAMATE Elmer Peña Silva Victor Vásquez Gonzales Albrecht Benzing NATALIA ROJAS BALDEON Marriot Nyangu
Coffee Management Services Limited COLEACP PIP
Samuel Thuo Jeremy Knops
Switzerland ITALY Switzerland Indonesia COLOMBIA PERU PERÚ Germany PERU 25 Zambezi Road ,Roma Township,Lusaka Zambia Kenya BELGIUM
www.ecomtrading.com www.bio-inspecta.ch www.fair-biz.org www.cenfrocafe.com.pe www.cenfrocafe.gob.pe www.ceres-cert.com WWW.CETPROLAFLORIDA.COM.PE www.biofuelsforumzambia.com www.coffeemanagement.co.ke http://www.coleacp.org/en
consultancy Consultor Independiente Consultor Independiente en temas contable financieros, organizacion, planificacion, Auditorias, Proyectos de Inversion, etc COOPARAISO LTDA. COOPERATIVA AGRARIA CAFETALERA LOS CHANKAS SELVA CENTRAL Cooperativa Agraria Cafetalera Valle de Incahuasi Cooperativa de Servicios Múltiples CENFROCAFE PERU COOPERATIVA SERVICIOS MULTIPLES EL GORRION RL. Cooperative Corporacion de Productores CAfe peru S.A.C. Dakman Vietnam Limited DE Foundation Earth Net Foundation / Green Net Eastern African Fine Coffees Association El Castillo del Cacao SA EMATER-Pr. Envirocare EQUANATIVA FAIR TRADE ORGANIZATION OF KENYA Fair Trade Original
rodney nikkels Guillermo Saborío Modesto Laguna Matamoros
netherlands Costa Rica Nicaragua
No aplica Ninguna
CESAR AUGUSTO CORREA CANDIANO ORSI MARCOS QUISPE HUASCO
Dante Muriel Palomino
Teodomiro Melendres Ojeda
FRANCISCA NEIDA UBEDA HERRERA Thomas Sproten Juan Francisco Ferro
Ciudad de Jaén, Provincia de Jaén, Departamento de Cajamerca - Perú NICARAGUA JINOTEGA SAN SEBASTIAN DE YALI. Indonesia Peru
jonathan Clark Don Jansen Vitoon Panyakul Filtone C. Sandando Milton Fernández Otávio Oliveira da Luz Grace Murungi ROBERTO JIMENEZ LOZANO SOPHIE MUKUA Connie Valkhoff
Switzerland (Volcafe) Netherlands Thailand Uganda Nicaragua Brazil Tanzania ECUADOR KENYA Netherlands
www.dakmancoffee.com www.defoundation.org www.greennet.or.th www.eafca.org www.elcastillodelcacao.com
firstname.lastname@example.org jappsa-coop.com www.cafe-peru.com
www.envirocaretz.org www.ftok.org www.fairtrade.nl
Fairtrade International federacion nancional de cafeteros Finlays Horticulture FLO International FLO-CERT GmbH FSC FUNDEPPO Green Home Organisation for Women Development HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation
Susanne Boetekees Jhon Freddy Muñoz N Chris Gilbert-Wood Andreas Kratz Frank Brinkschneider Angeline Gough Jerónimo Pruijn Masereka sylvest
Germany colombia UK Germany Germany Mé1ico Uganda
HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation IDH The Sustainable Trade Initiative IFOAM IFOAM Independiente Joost Pierrot Consultancy Junta nacional del Café K.c.u (199) Ldt Kenya Coffee Producers Association KTDA Iriaini Tea Factory Co. Limited Kuit Consultancy Kyagalanyi Coffee Ltd., Uganda - member of the Volcafe group Landelijke Vereniging van Wereldwinkels Leading Standards GmbH Marine Stewardship Council
Martin Dietz Lazare YOMBI Riff Fullan Jenny Kwan Joelle Katto-Andrighetto Markus Arbenz Jorge Carpio Arce Joost Pierrot Susana Schuller Edson Matiku Charles Oyuga Wanjiku Githaiga Michiel Kuit Anneke Fermont
Switzerland Switzerland Switzerland Netherlands Germany Germany Nicaragua Netherlands Perú Tanzania Kenya KENYA Netherlands Switserland
www.helvetas.org; www.organicandfair.org www.helvetas.ch
Erika Spil Heiko Liedeker Yemi Oloruntuyi
Netherlands Germany United Kingdom
www.cafedecolombia.co www.finlays.net www.fairtrade.net
www.helvetas.org www.idhsustainabletrade.com www.ifoam.org www.ifoam.org No www.joostpierrot.com www.juntadelcafe.org.pe www.kcpa.co.ke www.ktdateas.com www.kyagalanyi.co.ug / www.volcafe.com www.wereldwinkels.nl www.leadingstandard.net www.msc.org
Ministry of Agriculture Nestle Oxfam Novib Organic Herb Trading PELUM-Kenya
Elizabeth Kamau Pedro Avila Orozco Johan Verburg Eileen Clark Zachary Makanya
Kenya Me1ico D.F. NL UK Thika, Kenya
PELUM-Kenya Association prodecoop, r. l. Progreso PSI PT Neslte Indonesia Rainforest Alliance Rainforest Alliance Rainforest Alliance, Programa Paisajes Sostenibles Peru react africa react africa RED CAFÉ de la Coordinadora Latinoamericana y de El Caribe de Organizaciones de Pequeños Productores de Comercio Justo (CLAC)
Zachary Makanya Reyno Elideth Meneses Acuña Angel Mario Martinez-Garcia Ian Finlayson junda aulia Edward Millard Leif Pedersen Gerardo Medina M.
Kenya, and Zambia Nicaragua
Roundtable on Sustainabe Biofuels Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels SNV Netherlands Devt organization SOLIDARIDAD Solidaridad SOLIDARIDAD Solidaridad Eastern and Central Africa
Anne-Sophie Dörnbrack Sébastien Haye Jechoniah kitala EZIO Rajesh Dubey
www.pelum.net, www.pelumrd.org, www.pelum.net www.prodecoop.com
UK switzerland USA
Silvio Cerda Hernandez
En Nicaragua se ubica actualmente la oficina de su dirección ejecutiva, trabajando de cerca con la Oficina CLAC - El Salvador Switzerland Switzerland Netherlands holanda India PERU Netherlands
www.rsb.org rsb.org www.snvworld.org www.solidaridadnetwork.org SOLIDARIDAD.ORG www.solidaridanetwork.org/ea
Solidaridad Ivory Coast Solidaridad Network
Kadi Julius Ssemyalo
solidaridad-Nigeria State Secretariat for Economic Affairs SECO Technical Assistance for Sustainable Trade & Environment (TASTE Foundation) Tropical Farm Management Twin & Cla@se
wale Awoyemi Martin Peter
Jerida Sinange Anneke Theunissen
UCPCO RL Union Nationale des Producteurs de Coton du Burkina (UNPCB) van Hall-Larenstein University of Applied Sciences Volcafe WOMENN AND LAW IN EAST AFRICA TANZANIA Zameen Organic
Jhyson Moreno GUEBRE Georges
Nicaragua Burkina Faso
Jos van Hal
The Netherlands, Wageningen Switzerland TANZANIA
Mark Furniss JOYCE MDOE SHAIDI Gijs
www.solidaridadnetwork.org <www.solidaridadnetwork.org> and or <www.solidaridad.nl> www.solidaridad.nl
www.twin.org.uk y www.claase.org www.ucpcorl.com www.unpcb.org www.vanhall-larenstein.com www.volcafe.ch
Annex 5 Detailed interview report On the topics: The users of the resource centre The end users Quality control of resources Yellow pages Languages and regions Technicalities and variety of resources Cooperation Host and governing body Processes The users of the resource centre The end-users, farmers, are not likely to use an internet based resource centre. For this reason the users of the resource centre will be the consultants, trainers, advisor providing capacity building services to farmers, often called Business Development Service providers. BDS providers are private companies; the resource centre must provide these companies with practical and useful tools, which create interesting business opportunities for the BDS provider. How to reach the envisaged target group of this resource centre? Are their platforms of BDS providers? Not many are known. There are examples of BDS platforms in specific countries see for examples http://www.bds-forum.net/ (but these focus mainly on BDS for SMEs). In practice labeling organizations have their preferred suppliers, often staff on the pay-roll of an organization (e.g Solidaridad for Utz), and do not hire private BDS providers. Rural BDS affordable for farmers is often lacking, many development organizations try to support the development of this type of BDS, but this remains difficult. Rural BDS development is one of the topics of the AgriProfocus Agri-hubs, e.g. in Ethiopia. Formulate the target group of the resource centre broader then BDS providers. If the target groups if formulated as ‘service
providers’ this also includes NGOs and governmental extension services. This enlarges the group of potential users of the resource centre. There are likely to be more channels to reach this broad target group (e.g the APF agri-hubs, Farmer Field Schools etc.) Find out what the problems are of professionals (follow (linkedin) groups, Nings etc.) Do not limit your self to the most important/ well known standards as Fair Trade organic, Utz etc. Include all round tables and sustainability initiatives (nicely mapped in the Standards map of ITC) Realize that there is a difference between standards for small holders and for plantages (e.g. ISO 26.000) (are both going to be addressed?)
The end users This resource centre is a means to an end: increased production according to voluntary standards ánd positive social and economic impact for farmers (men and women) in developing countries. This implies the resource centre needs to be an answer to the needs of these farmers in order to be succesfull. What are the needs of the end-users of the resource centre, of the farmers? o They are not necessarily interested in getting trained for one label, they might want to combine labels, or move from one to another. o They might be interested in sustainable agriculture to start with and maybe later consider a label. o They might not al all be interested in a label: Because they lack capacity (individual of organisational) They are not sure the benefits exceed the costs They want to keep their freedom to sell to the trader with the highest price o Farmers might want to be assisted in making a good choice
Oxfam Novib is even of the opinion that many labels are very close to regular agricultural practice. Criteria on inclusiveness are lacking (for gender and the poor). Oxfam Novib also promotes less labels to reduce the jungle of current labels In order to be able to discuss this type of issues openly you should be careful not to be identified too much with one label.
Quality control of resources A central topic in the interviews was the quality control of the resources: How are you going to ensure quality control at the gate (what resources do you include, what criteria do you use, who will formulate the criteria, who is in charge of ensuring they are applied?) How do you organize this ‘meta-dating’? For every resource you should ensure that it is clear: for which target group, what are the learning objectives, the language, concepts and theories expected to be familiar, what skills are required. A central problem is the fact that a resource centre works modular, while a training institute (or a labeling organization) probably has organized a compete course. This is the problem also in education, in stead of a complete geography programme for children from 12-18, teachers nowadays combine own modules in their own sequence. This creates specific problems on how to combine modules in the best way. Quality management also implies that material which is taken up is to be kept updated and actual, and that links are still working. Copyright is another important issue. Of all material sources have to be mentioned and copyright checked (you are already in trouble if pictures with copy rights are used). More and more material is
published under Creative Commons 1 but often this is not specified. The problem might not be that big as most development organizations allow their publications to be used freely as there production if paid from public funds. Also a portal providing links to resources already in the public domain does not have this problem. A community based resource centre might have a review or rating system to allow users to express their opinion on the quality and usefulness of resources. Develop a system for users to evaluate material (by means of a survey), ask them to rate (give stars) or ask for a review (as for a book). Community members might be encouraged to upload or propose material. A system of quality control for this has to be designed. A two-step system might be considered allowing community members to vote (‘like’) for proposed material to be included in the data base of the resource centre.
Yellow pages Should the online resource centre for VSS include a system of Yellow Pages, or even an accreditation system? Based on the reaction of the persons interviewed this is an idea to be reconsidered. A system of Yellow pages is very difficult to maintain, even if you make the persons concerned, the service provider, responsible.
The Creative Commons copyright licenses and tools forge a balance inside the traditional “all rights reserved” setting that copyright law creates. Our tools give everyone from individual creators to large companies and institutions a simple, standardized way to grant copyright permissions to their creative work. The combination of our tools and our users is a vast and growing digital commons, a pool of content that can be copied, distributed, edited, remixed, and built upon, all within the boundaries of copyright law. 1
ICCO used to have such a system, it did not work and was closed quietly. IFOAM had a forum of consultants, which closed down for reason unknown. APF had this idea of a data base with projects of members, the members did not manage to provide the information and/ or to keep it updated. Quote of a consultant: “It is my experience that I never get assignment via the systems where I have posted my c.v.” An accreditation will be a very difficult to manage, expensive and heavy system Suggestions: o It might be a suggestion to link to Linked-in (make a group and encourage to use the ‘recommend’ option) o APF has a system of pages linked to Ning where companies can make their own profile; it is the intention to develop a directory for the search in these pages.
Languages and regions You will have to deal with languages, but avoid considering these as separate. Better develop one community dealing with materials in different languages. Moderating a community costs a lot of time, especially if this is an international community with many languages Technicalities and variety of resources When uploading e-courses take care that it is technically compatible with different ICT environments. When developing a resource centre do not only limit yourself to paper training manuals. Include audio and visual material as well if you want to be a modern resource centre. Some techniques are far more easily taught by means of a short film then in an article. Also think about the exchange of information on apps for mobile phone; in some countries this type of apps is increasingly used to support agricultural production
For a platform is a ‘Ning’ very useful. It is much cheaper to use a Ning than to make an own platform. The fact that it is not for free anymore is an advantage, provides more reliability. Many platforms we have looked at use Nings for their on-line community (e.g. APF, Change Alliance) A Ning is less useful for a library or a portal. On APF Nings resources are shared using the social bookmarking tool delicious. Tagged resources automatically feed to the Nings. ICCO does the same for its community wikis. The continuation of delicious is not guaranteed. ICCO experiments at the moment with Diigo, http://www.diigo.com/
Cooperation In order to organize a resource centre well, there needs to be a support base of a group of organizations willing to invest in the organization of the resource centre. Distinguish between an inner - and a outer circle of organizations involved. The first one in charge of the hosting and governance, the latter other stakeholders (e.g all labeling organizations). Do not forget the need to establish relations of cooperation with external organizations which can contribute to the development of the resource centre. Be sure all organizations involved are on the same line, share the same expectations (a common trap is that individual organizations are very much attached to their own culture, there own way of doing things; they might have a marketing purpose and fear loosing their image by working together) Take time to get on the same line! If you do not do this it will fire back on you. There also needs to be a support base at the side of the users; if not the material in the resource centre will not reach the intended users and establishment of the resource centre will be a waste of money. These two support bases on the supply of demand side need to be linked; avoid establishing a ‘supply-driven’ initiative.
A support base also implies the willingness to invest in a project. It is one thing to be interested in implementing a project for which donor money is available, something else to be willing to integrate this resource centre in the core business of participating organizations?
Host and governing body Distinguish between the ‘host’ of this initiative and the governing body. Governance ensures broad ownership, but one organization should be in charge of the technical setting up of the system. The governing body should be composed of a limited number of representative organizations steering the resource centre as a project. It is accountable to a broader constituency of stakeholders. Criteria for a host: o internationally recognized neutral institution which is there to last; o not a private company that runs it as a business because it is about public goods; o should have IT in house, the requirements to set up the system; o should be able to deliver o be neutral (so ISEAL is not recommended by several) The host should NOT be: o An aid organizations like HIVOS of Helvetas; o one of the standards setters o FAO, UNEP etc. too heavy, too slow, and too expensive Suggestion for a host: the International Trade Centre (ITC), o ITC is linked to UNCTAD and thus neutral o ITC has recently made the Standards map a capacity building programme linked to it would be a natural follow up step of this project o But ITC (as UN organization) is also bureaucratic and expensive. KIT might be a host in the Netherlands of the online library, they run 4 own portals (they have offered their technical expertise).
AgriProfocus is interested in partnering with this Resource Centre, particularly on the interactive/ community part of it. They have expertise in (on-line) network facilitation to offer and an immense network in their Agri-hub countries. A host not necessarily determines the presentation of the resource centre or the platform. The resource centre can have an own look and feel (landing page). A host should be involved in an early stage to ensure ownership.
Processes Realize that setting up an online library or portal is a lot of work, keeping it up to standard and managing it. (e.g. the person in charge of the KIT portal on value chain development spends 450 hours per year on this portal). Facilitation of an online community also costs time, and is a different specialization. Managing the organisational and cooperation aspects of the project will also be time consuming and very important. Embedded learning from the beginning in the project is of major importance; are we doing the right things and are we doing the things right. Allow for adjustments based on the learning in the strategy, the partners/ stakeholders, the steering structure, the working- and the learning processes. Ensure linking of this resource centre with other initiatives (links from other websites to the resource centre. Use Facebook, Twitter etc. to ensure that people know what happens in your resource centre.
Terms and definitions A content management system (CMS) allows publishing, editing, and modifying content as well as site maintenance from a central page. It provides a collection of procedures used to manage work flow in a collaborative environment. These procedures can be manual or computerbased. Controlled vocabularies provide a way to organize knowledge for subsequent retrieval. They are used in subject indexing schemes, subject headings, thesauri, taxonomies and other form of knowledge organization systems. Controlled vocabulary schemes mandate the use of predefined, authorized terms that have been preselected by the designer of the vocabulary, in contrast to natural language vocabularies, where there is no restriction on the vocabulary. Library: A library is a managed and organized collection of information resources, of all kinds, with services provided so that the collection can be used effectivelyâ€?. This more general explanation shows that a library is not, first and foremost a place: more importantly it is a collection which is organized and managed for the benefit of its users. To allow the user to find what he is searching for, libraries normally make use of so called metadata and controlled vocabularies. Metadata: literally 'data about data', is information about information resources, including the contents of digital libraries. It takes the form of structured records, in a consistent standard format. There are many different metadata formats, some simple, and some very complex. They can include information about many aspects of resources, including: ď‚ˇ description of the item: format, size, etc.; its subject or topic; author, title, publisher, date issued or modified, etc.; preservation or archiving information; and
access rights, copyright, etc.
OAI-PMH: Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting developed by the Open Archives Initiative (OAI) is an applicationindependent interoperability framework based on metadata harvesting. OAIPMH distinguishes between two different elements: 1. data providers that expose metadata; and 2. service providers that build value-added services based on the metadata harvested from the data providers. The institutions that have adopted specialized tools such as document repository services, have done so in order to benefit from the advanced description, indexing and retrieval functions of these tools and from their compliance with the standards that are relevant for the type of content that they manage. This is therefore very relevant to the library function of the Centre.
Published on Mar 30, 2012
A shared resource center to facilitate smallholders’ access to the preconditions for sustainability standards systems and their markets.The...