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11. Resource-poor farmer participation in research: a synthesis of experiences from nine national agricultural research systems.

OFCOR Comparative Study Paper No. 3; Int. Service for Nat. Agric. Research, The Hague, Netherlands; 1989, 34 pp. + references

This paper is a result of a collaborative group effort. It is based on the case studies prepared for the ISNAR study on organization and management of on-farm client-oriented research in national agricultural research systems.

This paper reviews the experiences of resource-poor farmer participation in the agricultural research process and draws out lessons for agricultural research managers. Participation in this context is seen as the involvement of farmers in research activities as clients, colleagues, partners, planners, and evaluators in the research process.

The paper reviews the experiences of nine national agricultural research systems: Ecuador, Guatemala, Panama, Senegal, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Nepal. In these countries, resource-poor farmers have been designated as major clients of research and all have had major on-farm client-oriented research (OFCOR) efforts in operation for several years. One of the principal objectives of these programs has been to promote participation of resource-poor farmers in research. This has been stressed because it increases the cost-effectiveness of research and helps keep research priorities focused on the clients.

The analysis is divided into four chapters. The first chapter looks at the types of farmer participation in research in the country case studies. A typology of four modes of participation (contract, consultative, collaborative, and collegial) is used to differentiate the ways in which resource-poor farmers participate in research programs.

The typology has implications for management and some of these are briefly described. The OFCOR programs in the country case studies are then described, with particular reference to the nature of participation. Modes of participation are subject to development policy, national agricultural research policy, institutional context, and changes in research methodology. Some of the ways in which these factors have contributed to changes in programs are considered.

Chapter 2 discusses the levels at which resource-poor farmers and scientists interact, looking in particular at the village, national, and regional levels. The complex and often difficult circumstances at the village level have implications for managers; and several aspects of these are discussed, including bias, the status and role of scientific staff, local politicians, community representatives, and the staff of extension and development agencies. These factors contribute to the way in which a research program is implemented; they are crucial to the nature and extent of resource-poor farmer participation.

A major part of chapter 3 discusses meetings between researchers and resource-poor farmers as an important complement to trials and surveys.

Such meetings require careful design and clear objectives if the resources allocated to working with farmers are to be used efficiently and effectively. Farmers can be involved in meetings in a number of ways. These are set out, bearing in mind the location-specificity and nature of the research program. The case studies show considerable experimenting with different types of meetings to improve farmers participation; some of those at the village and national level are described.

The fourth chapter draws out lessons and implications for research managers. It concludes by placing emphasis on the need to support local research practitioners in finding ways to develop new methods and techniques for increasing the participation of resource-poor farmers.

One of the most important findings from this study is that research practitioners have been innovative and have developed a wide variety of mechanisms to involve farmers in the research process.

Support must be given to local researchers, and funds must be allocated for communicating experiences with farmer participation among researchers in different regions and in different countries.

1050 92 - 2/134

Farming systems research and development

Review, Africa, Asia, Latin America, Senegal, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Nepal, Ecuador, Guatemala, Panama, case studies, on-farm research, organisation, management, ISNAR

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