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Knowledge management and transfer of technology in the application of biotechnology tools for genetic improvement of beans (Phaseoulus sp)

in Venezuela1
Alfredo Romero S., Ma. Elena Morros y Delis Prez Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Agrcolas, Venezuela Correo: aromero@inia.gob.ve

INTRODUCTION Agricultural research programs undertaken by the public sector of emerging economies have undervalued the role of information and communication to enhance innovation and technological development processes. In January 2005, the execution of a nation-wide project was initiated, with the purpose of strengthening the biotechnology sector to support the production of high priority agricultural commodities (corn, beans, rice and root and tuber crops), aimed to develop technical and scientific capabilities in the main research institutes of Venezuela. The National Fund for Science, Technology and Innovation (FONACIT) coordinated the formulation of 36 subprojects, with an investment of $ 20 million partly provided ($10 million) by IADB. The goal include: to secure the accomplishment of the institutional mission of the four main research institutes (CIEPE; IDEA, INIA and IVIC) under the adscription of the Ministry of Science and Technology, induction of collaboration aactivities with several State Universities and ONGs, the provision of technological demands of the corresponding agro production chains (farmers associations, cooperatives, extension services, market links, financial institutions and S&M industrial processing units),

Paper presented in the 11th International Conference on Agricultural Biotechnologies: New Frontiers and Products Economics, Policies and Science, organized by the: International Consortium on Agricultural Biotechnology Research (ICABR) and the: Catholic University of Leuven, CEIS - University of Rome "Tor Vergata", Rutgers University, Economic Growth Center, Yale University. Ravello, Scala ( Italy ) July 26 29, 2007

strengthening of instrumental and innovative capacbilities to boost diffusion and adoption of improved biotechnologies, and the creation of communication and information flows among biotechnology researcher and stakeholders (researcher, technicians, input suppliers and development organizations). This paper presents the objectives and results obtained in the implementation of knowledge management strategies and technology transfer activities included in the subproject # 2004000410: Application of biotechnological tools in the genetic improvement of common beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) for increasing its production and nutritional quality in Venezuela. The project was conceived as a complement to the ongoing research program in genetic improvement and molecular characterization and screening of Phaseolus germoplasm carried out by INIA.

Knowledge management and technology transfer strategies The conceptual basis for this research rests, on the one hand, on knowledge management methods and techniques aimed to integrate and synergize several professional disciplines (transdisciplinarity) with the purpose of improving the efficiency and performance of development services offered by institutions, enterprises and ONGs to their stakeholders (WorldBank, 1999; Servin, 2005) One specific KM technique looks for the sharing and exchanging of ideas, perceptions, problems and possible solutions among participant actors (researchers, technicians, change agents and final users) in the planning and execution of concerted development actions and processes. Given the complexity of action-research involved in the genetic improvement procedures, several events took place for knowledge exhange and analysis about the objectives and approaches in the different components considered in the project (as stated below in the Methodology), throughout 2005 and 2007, including planning and monitoring workshops (Romero et al., 2005), training courses, technical meetings and workshops on specific topics, with participation of researchers, technicians and farmers involved with the project. Technology transfer activities included also production and editing publications, videos and micros for radio broadcasting.

Participatory innovation Participatory research and development has emerged as an institutional innovation during the last 20 years in many national agricultural research systems in Latin America, Asia and Africa, in a attempt to complement conventional research methods, and it has been widely documented (Byerle et al., 1982; Farrington & Martin, 1987; Rhoades, 1987; Haverkort et al., 1988; Biggs, 1989: Selner, 1997; Probst and Hagman, 2003; Sabih and Nilja, 2004; Gonsalves et al., 2005). This approach facilitates technological and social development processes according to agroecological and socioeconomic conditions of small and medium farmers, hitherto excluded in previous development efforts. It has become an indispensable strategy to achieve the empowerment of local communities, allowing their involvement as leaders of their own development projects with adequate sustainable visions and endogenous pathways. Public institutional R&D projects using participatory methods now provide technical solutions amenable to be adapted and adopted by local groups, help in the improvement of production, reducing risks and costs and increasing profits, since they become aware and value first hand innovations and their advantages (Gonsalves et al., 2005). In Venezuela, there have been encouraging experiences in the implementation of this approach in specific rural settings such as the highlands of Lara State in the central-western region (Morros & Alcal, 2005; Morros & Salas, 2006).

OBJECTIVES The utilization of KM and technology transfer strategies accompanied by participatory research and development methods in the execution of the subproject 2004000410 was oriented to validate and strengthen instruments, resources and capabilities in the establishment of communication flows among researchers of different institutions involved in the project, as well as other relevant actors (farmers, technicians, development officials and members of local communities), in order to stimulate their active participation in the development of technologies. More specifically, it envisioned awareness and consciousness creation among different actors about the importance of information and knowledge sharing for a more effective transfer and diffusion of 3

improved biotechnologies, and the creation of sustained communication networks in time and space.

METHODOLOGY According to the terms of reference outlined by the BID/FONACIT II Agricultural Biotechnology project, there were planned and executed specific and complementary activities for five components: I. II. III. IV. V. Networking enhancement Biotechnology research and development Human capital consolidation Technology transfer Infrastructural improvement of research centres.

In order to foster implementation of components I, III and IV, those mostly related KM and Participatory innovation, the following strategies of action were established: a) Induction of compromise and commitment of the interinstitutional research team in structuring, designing and sharing of information, knowledge and purposes aimed to obtain expected intermediary and final products for each component. b) Promotion and use of participatory innovation instruments in the development of specific research and technology transfer activities to assure effective involvement of different actors for achievement of goals and expected intermediate and final products for each component. c) Diffusion of principles and practices of shared management tools to attain identical behaviour and performance among research participants in their linking efforts with target audiences. d) Establishment of a climate for the free flow and access to information and knowledge processed and generated in the research process.

In practical terms, we were attempting a permanent interaction and exchange among researchers responsible for specific objectives in the several components, in the search for effective synergy and shared responsibilities in goals attainment.

RESULTS Networks enhancement a) One of the main outcomes of the project was the establishment of an interdisciplinary and interinstitutional networked research team. 20 professionals of five different institutions (INIA, UCV, UNESR, USB and DANAC), including specialists in plant breeding, plant pathology, agricultural biotechnology, bioinformatics, food and science technology and technology transfer. Five planning, monitoring and evaluation workshops (with duration of two days) took place from April 2005 to May 2007, allowing knowledge sharing and revision of advancement in research objectives. A permanent information flow and exchange through e-mail was maintained, facilitating the follow up of revisited topics in the workshops and of the specific objectives of the project. b) After several informal meetings with other researchers, technicians and farmers in different areas and localities in the country, in 2006 it was created the Edible Grain Legumes National Network, with an initial membership of 75 actors, including 26 researchers, 25 technicians, 10 extension officers and 14 farmers leaders of cooperatives or farmers associations. 6 regional chapters of the network have been organized in order to facilitate interaction diffusion of relevant information, and new members are requesting participation through these chapters. c) A web site for the Network is already in the internet (www.redbio.org.ve/caraota) with information relevant for its members, with basic information of the projects, news, events, technical/scientific documents and links all related to edible bean production, consumption, genetic improvement and application of biotechnological tools. d) A illustrated catalogue of 300 local indigenous varieties and materials preserved in the legumes seed bank was designed and constructed, in electronic format, accessible through the website.

Human capital consolidation e) In service training. Eight members of the research team have received specialized training in different topics (seed conservation, in vitro culture, 5

biometrics and bioinformatics, knowledge management and ICT, molecular markers, biotechnological tools for genetic improvement) in recognized international institutes (CIAT-Colombia, INRA-France, CSIC/INIA-Spain, CATIECosta Rica). f) Short courses and workshops. Seven researchers participated in international courses or workshops related to water stress, nutritional improvement, genomics and proteomics, knowledge management and information systems). g) Theses. Three students from Venezuelan universities developed their research theses in the context of the research and development component objectives of the project.

Technology Transfer a) Planning, monitoring and evaluation workshops. Five two-days PM&E workshops took place during the development of the project, where the research team shared and analyzed information and knowledge related to implementation and advances of their specific objectives and results, making possible the adjustment in initial objectives and revision of expected outcomes. b) Short courses. Six courses (nutritional value of grain legumes, plant ecophysiology, proteomics, molecular tools, participant genetic improvement, and grain legumes bioproccessing) were organized and offered, with participation of member of the research team as well as researchers and technicians of related institutions and farmers. c) Special events. Several events bringing together researchers, technicians and farmers took place, in order and share information about grain legume improvement and production and to promote the use of biotechnology: 1. Andean Meeting of Rural Biotechnological Enterprises for Endogenous Development. In a 3 day meeting organized in august 2005, jointly with IICA/PROCIANDINO and FONTAGRO, approximately 200 participants had the opportunity to know about and share the experience of farmers initiatives in the production of biotechnological inputs (clean seed, biological control species and biofertilizers), from the Andean countries (Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Per and Venezuela). This meeting was key promoter in the 6

conformation of the Andean Consortium of Participant Innovation in 2006, with the financial support of Holland and Switzerland governments, for the implementation of several projects aimed to the establishment of farmers enterprises in the Andean region, actually under execution, with the support of national agricultural research and non governmental institutions in the region. 2. Farmers seed day. In October 29, 2005, took place the first Farmers seed day in Sanare, Lara State, where small farmers from the area exhibited their local seed varieties and materials, participating in an evaluation contest and facilitating the exchange of materials between farmers from different localities. The event was repeated in October 2006 and from there on the Agricultural Ministry established the Annual Farmers Seed day, organizing similar events in other local communities in other country states. 3. Bean biotechhnology Symposium. In the framework of the 2005 Agricultural And Food Biotechnology Venezuelan Network Meeting, held in Maracay, Venezuela, in December 2005, the project sponsored the Bean Biotechnology International Symposium, which included the following presentatios: Genetic improvement of Phaseolus in Venezuela. Catalina Ramis, UCV/FAGRO, Maracay, Venezuela. Molecular markers in Phaseolus. Mathew Blair, CIAT, Colombia Technology transfer in the agricultural biotechnology projects. Mara Elena Morros, INIA-Lara, Venezuela. Biotechnological applications in edible beans. Adoracin Cabrera, Universidad de Crdoba, Espaa Nutritional quality and functional properties of grain legumes. Marisela Granito, USB, Caracas, Venezuela.

4. Other events included worshops on Participatory bean improvement, Farmers seed preservation, Biofertilizers production and Fermented flour bean use, with participation of members of the research team as

facilitators, technicians and farmers, aimed to the diffusion and application of such innovative techniques among farmers groups involves in the project.

d) Papers presented in scientific and technical events. 19 papers with partial results and advancements of the project were presented in different national and international events, as listed in note 11. e) Research papers. Four Research articles have been published so far2, and four more are under preparation for delivery by the end of 2007. f) Publications. Three divulgation publications have been edited: i. INIA/FONACIT 2005. Que es eso que llaman Biotecnologa?. (Comp. y edicin: Ma. Elena Morros y Alfredo Romero S.). Barquisimeto. INIA/FONACIT. 20p. (Serie D N4). Tiraje: 7000 ejemplares. ii. INIA/FONACIT. 2005. Tesoros de la cocina a base de caraotas y otros granos. (comp. y edicin: Ma. Elena Morros y Francisco Ramos). Barquisimeto, INIA/FONACIT. 72p. (Serie Pub. Especial N 6). Tiraje: 400 ejemplares. iii. ROMERO S., A.; PREZ, D.; GMEZ, J. (Editores). 2006. Memorias del Encuentro Andino de Empresas Rurales de Base Biotecnolgica en el marco del Desarrollo Endgeno. Maracay, INIA/FONACIT/ PROCIANDINO/FONTAGRO. 122p.

g) Audiovisual editing and production Video: Three micros in video format have been produced: i. Biotechnology, participation and endogenous development, 12 min. January 6006 ii. Sharing knowledge and experiences in agricultural biotechnology,

Testimonials, 12 min. May 2006 iii. Biotechnological applications in Bean improvement and production. May 2007. 15 min.. Radio: Three 2 micro programs for radio broadcasting were produced: Biotechnology and Bean production, participant innovation in biotechnology and 8

Biodiversity and Agriculture. November 2005, broadcasted during 2006 through the national network of community radio stations. . CONCLUSIONS The planning and execution of networks enhancement, human capital consolidation and technology transfer allowed the establishment of permanent information and communication flows throughout the last two years, facilitating the diffusion and knowledge and technologies among relevant audiences (researchers, technicians, farmers, policy makers) and their active participation in the innovation process for biotechnological applications in the genetic improvement and production of common beans, promoted by the BID/FONACIT Project. Knowledge levels, awareness and interest for biotechnological applications and products have increased in the group of almost 350 actors involved in the different activities undertaken by the project. Institutional innovation has been ameliorated and incorporated in the organizations involved, specifically the enabling of concrete instruments and mechanisms for farmers participation and communication networks, widening the range of the research and development process, in order to promote the use of biotechnological inputs adapted to the local contexts of rural communities. .
NOTES
1. List of papers presented in scientific and technical events: Romero S, A.; Prez, D.; Marn, C. 2005. Avances de la Gestin Integral de la Comunicacin y la Transferencia de Tecnologa en el Proyecto de Biotecnologa Agrcola (BID/FONACIT-II) en Venezuela. Presentado en: XIV Congreso Nacional de Divulgacin de paciencia y la Tcnica y III Taller Latinoamericano: Comunicacin, Ciencia y Sociedad. 10 al 14 de octubre en Morelia, Michoacn, Mxico. th Granito, M. 2005. 6 International food data conference. Food composition data and the nutrition dilemma. 14 al 16 de septiembre de 2005, Pretonia, Sudfrica. Morros, M. E.; Romero, A.; Prez, D.; Salazar, E. 2005 Diseo y Edicin del Libro Qu es eso que llaman Biotecnologa? Fue presentado en el marco del V SIRGEALC. 25 de noviembre de 2005, MontevideoUruguay. Bernal, C.; Diez, N.; Galindo, I.; Prez, D. 2005. Aplication of comparative proteomics to identify proteins in Phaseolus vulgaris asociated with bruchids resistance. Trabajo presentado en: Phaseomics IV. Genmica y biotecnologa del poroto. Del 01 al 03 de diciembre. Salta, Argentina. Prez, M.; Ramis, C.; Trujillo, I.; Medina, A; Y De Fara; Mvil, O. Y D. Prez. 2005. Molecular characterization of 6 Phaseolus vulgaris genotypes with different resistent reactions to Xanthomonas phaseolis using RAPD analyses. Trabajo presentado en: Phaseomics IV. Genmica y biotecnologa del poroto. Del 01 al 03 de diciembre. Salta, Argentina. Rodrguez, S.; Trujillo, I.; Ramis, C.; Medina, A.; Prez, M. Y D. Prez. 2005. Genetic diversity of Phaseolus vulgaris accessions from INIA_CENIAP, germplasm bank on Venezuela. Trabajo

presentado en: Phaseomics IV. Genmica y biotecnologa del poroto. Del 01 al 03 de diciembre. Salta, Argentina. Movil, O.; Maselli, A.; Ramis, C.; Prez, D.; Prez, M.; Medina, A.; Marn, C.; Maselli, M. Y Gutirrez, M. 2005. Resistance evaluation in Phaseolus vulgaris to three bacterial isolation of Xanthomonas phaseolis. XII International congress on molecular plant microbe interactions. Del 30 de nov al 05 de diciembre de 2005. Mrida, Mxico. Movil, O.; Maselli, A.; Ramis, C.; Perez, D.; Perez, M.; Medina, A.; Guitierrez, M. 2005. Desarrollo de la sintomatologa de la bacteriosis comun de la caraota en diferentes genotipos de Phaseolus vulgaris L. II Congreso de Mejoramiento Gentico y Biotecnologa Agrcola. 19 al 21 de octubre de 2005. IDEA, Caracas. Prez, D.; Morros, M. E.; Gutirrez, M.; Salih, A.; Salazar, L.; Dedordy, G. Y L. Aleman. 2005. Identificacin de germoplasma de caraota (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) con alto contenido de Fe y Zn para ser incorporado en programas de biofortificacin. II Congreso de Mejoramiento Gentico y Biotecnologa Agrcola. 19 al 21 de octubre de 2005. IDEA, Caracas. Movil, O.; Maselli, A.; Ramis, C.; Perez, D.; Perez, M.; Medina, A.; Guitierrez, M. 2005. Evaluacin de la resistencia de genotipos de Phaseolus vulgaris L. a tres aislamientos de la bacteria Xanthomonas phaseoli, presentado como Poster en el XIX Congreso Venezolano de Fitopatologa, celebrado en la UCLA, Barquisimeto, Lara, del 14 al 17 de noviembre de 2005. Prez, D. Y M. Gutirrez. 2005. Recursos Genticos Locales relativos a leguminosas. Ponencia presentada en el Simposio Recursos Genticos Locales, IX Congreso Venezolano de Gentica. Caracas, 29 de noviembre al 2 de diciembre 2005. Prez, D. 2005. Conferencia dictada en el simposio BID-FONACIT II. Presentacin de los avances del subproyecto: Aplicacin de la biotecnologa como herramienta para el mejoramiento gentico de la caraota (Phaseolus vulgaris l.) con miras a incrementar su produccion y calidad nutritiva. Romero S., A.; Prez, D.; Morros, M. E.; Ortega C., E.; Perez-Almeida, I.; Castillo, J. 2006. Compartiendo conocimientos y experiencias sobre biotecnologa entre productores, investigadores er y otros actores sociales involucrados en la Regin Andina. 1 Congreso Iberoamericano de Ciencia, tecnologa, Sociedad e Innovacin CTS+I, Ciudad de Mxico, 19 al 23 de junio de 2006. Romero S, A.; Prez, D. Presentacin del trabajo: Compartiendo conocimientos y experiencias sobre biotecnologa entre productores, investigadores y otros actores sociales involucrados en la Regin Andina, en los Encuentros de Biotecnologa y el cultivo del Arroz, en Acarigua 27 y 28 de junio, 2006 y en Tucupita, D. Amacuro, 4 y 5 de septiembre, 2006. Bernal, C.; Diez, N.; Galindo, I. Y D., Prez. 2005. Aplicacin de la protemica comparativa para la identificacin de protenas. En Phaseolus vulgaris L. asociadas a resistencia a plagas. Encuentro REDBIO 2005. Maracay, 09 de diciembre de 2005. Granito, M.; Guinand, J. Y D. Prez. 2005. Encuentro REDBIO 2005. Maracay, 09 de diciembre de 2005. Romero S., A; Prez, D.; Morros, M. E.; Salazar, E.; Carreo, F.; Ramis, C.; Trujillo, I.; Granito, M.; Diez, N; Toro, M. 2005. Comunicacin, Transferencia y Fortalecimiento de Redes en el Subroyecto BID/FONACIT II N 2004000410 de Caraota. Encuentro REDBIO 2005. Maracay, 09 de diciembre de 2005. Marisela, G.; Guinand, J. Y D. Prez. 2006. Efecto del bioprocesamiento y de la coccin sobre la composicin qumica de una variedad de Phaseolus vulgaris L. cultivada en Venezuela. Nuevos retos y oportunidades de las leguminosas en el sector agroalimentario espaol (Segundas Jornadas de la Asociacin espaola de leguminosas), Cuenca, 25 al 27 de abril de 2006. Toledo, Espaa. P. 451-457.

2. List of research papers Publisher so far: Bernal, C., Galindo, I. Perez, D. Y N. Diez. 2006. Aplicacin de la protemica comparativa para la identificacin de protenas en Phaseolus vulgaris L. asociadas a resistencia a plagas. Aprobado para su publicacin en Agronoma Tropical. Instituto Nacional De Investigaciones Agrcolas. 2006. Encuentro Andino de empresas rurales de base Biotecnolgica en el marco del desarrollo endgeno: Memorias. Maracay, INIA. 128p. (Pub. Especial N 16). Romero S., A.; Prez, D.; Morros, M. E.; Ortega C., E.; Perez-Almeida, I.; Castillo, J. 2007. Compartiendo conocimientos y experiencias sobre biotecnologa entre productores, investigadores

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y otros actores sociales involucrados en la Regin Andina. Sometido a la revista Espacios. En revisin. Granito, Marisela; Guinand, J.; Prez, D. 2006. Efecto del bioprocesamiento y de la coccin sobre la composicin qumica de una variedad de Phaseoulus vulgaris L. cultivada en Venezuela. En: Nuevos Retos y oportunidades de las leguminosas en el sector agroalimentario espaol (II jornadas de la Asociacin espaola de Leguminosas. Cuenca, 25 al 27 de abril de 2006. pp: 451457.

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ABSTRACT Since January 2005 we initiated the execution of the proyect: Application of biotechnological tools for the genetic improvement of beans (Phaseoulus sp) for higher production and grain

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quality, in the framework of the BID/FONACIT Biotechnology program in Venezuela. The objectives were to promote knowledge sharing among farmers and researchers, to develop technologies required by small farmers sector, and strengthening of innovative methodologies for transfering of biotechnological inputs. A series of strategies and activities were planned and executed, using KM and farmer participatory action research, within the following components: networking, R&D, technology transfer and strengthening of scientific and technological capacities (institutional and human), aimed at creating an effective information and knowledge flow between farmers, technicians and researchers. Activities included participatory R&D, diffusion of information through printed materials, training courses and workshops, and web communication networks, with the participation of an interdisciplinary and interinstitutional team of 20 researchers and nearly 400 farmers and technicians. Preliminary results indicate an increase in knowledge sharing activities, high participation of farmers and technicians in scientific/technological research and development, wide diffusion of information through participation in scientific events, internet(web site), printed materials, and training courses and the establishment of a communication network of around 350 members. It is concluded that integrating R&D activities with connectivity and technology transfer efforts can be a suitable alternative to promote biotechnology acceptance and use among farmers and society at large. RESUMEN En enero de 2005 se inici la ejecucin del proyecto de Fortalecimiento del sector biotecnolgico en apoyo a la produccin de rubros agrcolas prioritarios y la soberana alimentaria de Venezuela, auspiciado por el FONACIT con financiamiento del BID y la participacin de los cuatro institutos de investigacin nacionales, con el objetivo de satisfacer la demanda de los sectores productivos, el fortalecimiento de mecanismos innovativos para transferir y difundir informacin establecer flujos de comunicacin e influencia recproca entre los biotecnlogos y los usuarios y beneficiarios, propiciando la adopcin y aplicacin de productos biotecnolgicos que aseguren la institucionalizacin de procesos de apropiacin de conocimiento y tecnologas de base biotecnolgica eficientes y eficaces. Esta propuesta se sustenta en la gestin del conocimiento, y la innovacin participativa rural para lo cual se planificaron y ejecutaron acciones de intercambio y anlisis de conocimiento sobre los objetivos y enfoques de los diferentes componentes que conforman el proyecto. Las estrategias diseadas se centraron en la induccin del compromiso de todos los participantes en el proyecto en estructurar, disear y compartir conocimiento, informacin y mensajes unvocos, utilizacin de la metodologa de innovacin participativa en el desarrollo de las acciones de investigacin y transferencia, con el fin de involucrar a los productores y tcnicos de la cadena agroproductiva en el mejoramiento gentico de la caraota con apoyo de la biotecnologa y la difusin en todos los niveles institucionales, de principios y prcticas de gestin compartida, que aseguren idnticos principios en los esfuerzos de relacionamiento con pblicos interesados. Las acciones programadas y ejecutadas en cada uno de los componentes, han permitido establecer un flujo de informacin continuo a lo largo de los dos aos de duracin del proyecto, facilitando la difusin de conocimientos y tecnologas hacia los entornos relevantes y logrando la participacin activa de muchos actores, especialmente los productores organizados, en el proceso de aplicacin de la biotecnologa en el mejoramiento gentico de la caraota. Se ha elevado el nivel de conocimiento y el inters por las aplicaciones biotecnolgicas entre los casi 350 productores y tcnicos que han participado en las diferentes actividades ejecutadas. Se ha fortalecido el proceso de innovacin institucional, al concretar mecanismos concretos de gestin de conocimientos e innovacin participativa que han permitido generar tecnologas apropiadas a los contextos de aplicacin en las comunidades rurales participantes.

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