Knowledge for Development

Relevant publications

The use of participatory processes in wide-scale dissemination of micro dosing and conservation agriculture in Zimbabwe

By: T. Pedzisa; I. Minde; S. Twomlow. Joint 3rd AAAE and 48th AEASA Conference, Cape Town, South Africa, September 19-23, 2010.Participatory technology development has been used for quite some time. However, little is known about how farmers perceive participatory methods and processes. Understanding farmers’ concerns about the participatory process can be an important starting point and can further the ultimate aim of encouraging sustained technology adoption. An ex-post participatory technology development and transfer evaluation was carried out in Zimbabwe in 2006-2007 involving 231 farmers. It was revealed that use of demonstration trials encouraged the most participation and subsequent adoption and adaptation of the technologies to suit specific needs. The participatory nature of the process encouraged greater knowledge sharing among farmers and gave them more confidence in the technology. In order to increase the gains of the participatory process, feedback loops should be built in to allow improvements and modifications to be made to the techniques being promoted.


Women’s Knowledge: Traditional Medicine and Nature (Mauritius, Reunion and Rodrigues)

The book Women’s Knowledge: Traditional Medicine and Nature was launched at the International Workshop on Bioprocessing, Policy and Practice: Conservation and use of Medicinal plants of the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) of the Indian Ocean and Madagascar (20-22 April, 2011 - Ebène, Mauritius).The Islands of Reunion, Mauritius and Rodrigues (Indian Ocean) have their own unique medical traditions. These medical traditions have emerged from multiple origins through a process of creolisation, but they are also closely tied to the natural world in which they have adapted and evolved. They thus provide a key to understanding the wider societies, which are engaged in a constant dialectic between tradition and modernity. Beginning at the end of the Seventeenth Century, these islands were gradually populated by populations originating from Europe, Madagascar, Africa, India, China, even Polynesia and Australia. The interchange between the medical traditions originating from each of these places has given rise to a common knowledge, transmitted largely by women.This book brings to our attention the knowledge of medicinal plants and medical practices of these women, with special focus on childbirth. It also considers the place of medicinal knowledge within these evolving societies who are actively confronting the threats and opportunities that globalization poses to local identities.


The role of labour in agriculture: innovation, strategies and organisation

Le travail en agriculture : son organisation et ses valeurs face à l'innovation, Directed by Pascal Béguin, Benoît Dedieu and Éric Sabourin Editions L’Harmattan, 2011.Source: CIRAD, 11/03/2011A book on the role of labour in innovation, farmers' strategies and their organization, and in the values attached to the professions of animal and crop farmer.There is growing pressure to ensure that agricultural production practices change. But what do we know about the reality of farmers' working practices?This study set out to look not at agriculture, but at farmers: their strategies, organization, and the values attached to the professions of animal and crop farmer."We cannot try to change the sector without taking account of the relations farmers have with their work."


Land deals in Africa: What is in the contracts? Cotula, L., Land deals in Africa: What is in the contracts?, IIED, London, 2011. This report was prepared for “Legal tools for citizen empowerment”, a programme steered by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED). This report analyses 12 land deals and their wider legal frameworks. A number of the contracts reviewed appear to be short, unspecific documents that grant long-term rights to extensive areas of land, and in some cases priority rights over water, in exchange for seemingly little public revenue and/or apparently vague promises of investment and/or jobs. Also, a number of the deals are being negotiated in legal contexts where safeguards for local interests are weak, and some contracts appear not to properly address social and environmental issues. Some contracts do however feature better terms: such as better distributed revenues, international social and environmental on-farm standards, more flexible duration, clearer identification of the land being transacted, specific investor commitments on jobs, training, local procurement and local processing, greater attention to local food security, and their tighter social and environmental safeguards.


Exploring farmers’ local knowledge and perceptions of soil fertility and management in the Ashanti Region of Ghana

Dawoe, E.K. et al. Geoderma, Volumes 179–180, 2012.A field study was conducted in the Ghana to assess farmers’ local knowledge of soil fertility and fertility processes, and to analyze how this knowledge influences soil fertility management strategies. Farmer's local knowledge of soil was not significantly related to age, location, or gender in this study. However, knowledge and perceptions of soil fertility were based on observable plant and soil related characteristics namely; soil colour, crop yield, soil water holding/retention capacity, stoniness, difficulty to work soil, type and abundance of indicator weeds, colour of leaves and deficiency symptoms observed on crops, crop growth rate and presence and abundance of soil macro-fauna. Though farmers’ indicators were purely qualitative, it nevertheless was congruent to scientific assessment of fertile or infertile soils in many respects. Reported fertile sites were confirmed to exhibit higher levels of soil nutrients and organic matter compared to reported infertile sites. It is argued that there is the need to utilize the complementary nature of local and scientific knowledge. (via, 21/03/2012)


Negotiation analysis for mechanisms to deliver ecosystem services: The case of soil conservation in Costa Rica

Vignola, R. et al. Ecological Economics, Volume 75, March 2012.The nature and structure of institutional mechanisms is fundamental for commons management, and yet has received relatively little attention for ecosystem service provision. In this paper, Vignola (Climate Change Programme at CATIE, Costa Rica) and colleagues develop and employ a value-focused structured decision process for a negotiation analysis about mechanisms to maintain and enhance ecosystem service (ES) provision at the watershed scale. They use a watershed case study where upstream farmers and downstream hydropower might jointly benefit from the design of a mechanism to foster the provision of soil regulation services (SRS). They have structured a negotiation template representing the important components that a soil conservation program should include. A voting-based elicitation process was employed to identify sub-alternatives acceptable both parties, which in turn identifies the zone of bargaining, or negotiation space in which future negotiations should focus. The authors then discuss the potential for application of this approach to other ES contexts, and the importance of the overall policy framework to provide resources and incentives to achieve enhance ES provision.


Integrated natural resource management in the highlands of eastern Africa: From concept to practice

German, L. et al. International Development Research Center (IDRC), Earthscan, 2012.This book documents a decade of research, methodological innovation, and lessons learned in an eco-regional research-for-development program operating in the eastern African highlands, the African Highlands Initiative (AHI). It summarizes the experiences of farmers, research and development workers, policy and decision-makers who have interacted within an innovation system with the common goal of implementing an integrated approach to natural resource management (NRM) in the humid highlands. This book demonstrates the crucial importance of 'approach' in shaping the outcomes of research and development, and distils lessons learned on what works, where and why. It is enriched with examples and case studies from five benchmark sites in Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania, whose variability provides the reader with an in-depth knowledge of the complexities of integrated NRM in agro-ecosystems that play an important role in the rural economy of the region.


Plant Breeding with Farmers: A technical Manual

The manual, by Salvatore Ceccarelli of ICARDA describes how to organize a Participatory Plant Breeding (PPB) programme in self-pollinated, crosspollinated and vegetatively propagated crops, how to design the trials, collect, organize and analyse the data, and eventually how to use and share the information generated by a PPB programme. The overall objective is to show that Institutions responsible for plant breeding can organize their plant breeding programmes in a participatory manner and therefore in many cases the topics discussed are common to PPB and to Conventional Plant Breeding (CPB); this underlines that a PPB programme can be organized on scientific grounds as solid as those on which a CPB programme is based. (Thanks; 4/5/2012)


Synthesis Report of the Global Conference for Women in Agriculture

The First Global Conference on Women in Agriculture (GCWA) held in New Delhi (13-15 March 2012) was organized by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), the Asia-Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutions (APAARI), and was supported by the multistakeholder Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR) through a new mechanism “Gender in Agriculture Partnership (GAP)”. Given that gender inequalities run right through agricultural systems, action is required at all levels from household and community up to national, regional and international scales. Priorities identified were; (1) Collective advocacy to raise awareness of women’s needs in agriculture and ensure their visibility (2) Encouraging collective action and leadership among women to develop programmes that directly meet women’s needs and to make the agricultural support systems gender sensitive (3) Addressing discrimination through appropriate policies, legislation and enforcement mechanisms and establishing women’s rights (4) Ensuring that institutions and support mechanisms promote women’s ownership and control of resources. This publication contains a synthesis report on this important event.


Putting citizens at the heart of food system governance

The IIED has prepared a briefing paper on establishing inclusive governance of food systems. Policy pointers identify priority actions, such as enabling farmers and other citizens to design policies and institutions, decide on strategic research priorities and investments, and assess the risks of new technologies. Policies should empower farmers by providing inclusive and safe spaces for deliberation and action, building local organisations, strengthening civil society, expanding information democracy, learning from experience and nurturing citizenship. (IIED, 5/2012)


Good Practices in Building Innovative Rural Institutions to Increase Food Security

This FAO publication identifies the underlying drivers that allow small-producer organisations to thrive, the good practices enabling development practitioners and other stakeholders to learn from successful local/regional initiatives, to support them and replicate them. The findings are useful for orienting operational programmes to support and empower small-scale producers in a process of sustainable and inclusive development. Indirectly, policy-makers may also draw inspiration from these cases as they demonstrate that, under the right conditions, critical bottlenecks to food security and sustainable rural development can be overcome. This publication on good practices in institutional building suggests that strengthened knowledge and capacities of individuals are central to fortifying rural institutions. The good practices described herein embody a capacity development approach by addressing all three dimensions in fortifying rural organisations’ members with skills and information (individual dimension), in improving processes and procedures within organisations and linkages between organisations (organisational dimension) and by addressing issues of the enabling environment such as the need to strengthen the voice of rural organisations at the policy level. (FAO, 5/2012)


Farmer-led research in village pig production in Lao PDR

Farmers are always looking for ways to improve their crop and livestock production systems. Recently, an opportunity for improving feed supply for pigs was identified by farmers in northern Laos. The legume Stylosanthes guianensis CIAT 184 (Stylo) had been introduced as a feed for ruminants but farmers also evaluated its use as a feed for pigs. They found that stylo was liked by pigs. They used it to replace naturally-occurring green feeds which took a long time to collect from fallow fields and forest margins. Women had been spending, on average, 3 hours per day collecting and cooking feed for pigs. With stylo, this time was reduced to 90 minutes per day. As farmers started to feed more stylo, they found that their pigs grew much better, increasing the average daily weight gain from approximately 100 to 200g.This better growth halved the time needed to grow pigs to marketable weight. These benefits prompted other farmers in surrounding villages to also grow and use stylo for their pigs. Creating an environment in which farmers were able to freely evaluate and adapt forage technologies to their own situation was a critical element in the evolution of this innovation. Participatory approaches were employed to ensure that farmers were involved actively in every stage of technology development. This generated unexpected outcomes and opened new research opportunities.(Source: P. Phengsavanh and W. Stür, for the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Lao PDR and CIAT.; Farmer-led research in village pig production in Lao PDR, P Phengsavanh [Livestock Research Center (LRC), National Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute(NAFRI), Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF), Vientiane, Lao PDR] and W. Stür [International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), P.O. Box 783, Vientiane, Lao PDR] )


Africa: Participatory Farm Management methods for assessing the suitability of potential innovations.

The potential of using Participatory Farm Management methods to examine the suitability of a technology with farmers prior to on-farm trials is explored. A study examining the suitability of green manuring as a technology for use with wet season tomato producers in Ghana is described. Findings from this case study demonstrate that Participatory Budgeting can be used by farmers and researchers to analyse current cultivation practices, identify the options for including green manures into the system and explore the direct and wider resource implications of the technology. Scored Causal Diagrams can be used to identify farmers' perceptions of the relative importance of the problem that the technology seeks to address. The use of the methods in this ex-ante evaluation process appears to have the potential to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the adaptive research process. This ensures that technologies subsequently examined in trials are relevant to farmers' interests, existing systems and resources, thereby increasing the chances of farmer adoption. It is concluded that this process has potential for use with other technologies and in other farming systems. From abstract Elsevier Science Journal. 


Handbook for Participatory Socio-Economic Evaluation of Pollinator-Friendly Practices

FAO and IIED have developed this 5-step guide to help farmers evaluate the benefits, and costs of applying pollinator-friendly practices. This handbook provides guidance on how organisations can work with farmers to evaluate the impact of pollinator-friendly practices on their livelihoods.


Participatory research extension approach: N2Africa extension method

‘Putting nitrogen fixation to work for smallholder farmers in Africa’ (N2Africa) is a research and development partnership project that is developing, disseminating, and promoting appropriate N2-fixation technologies for smallholder farmers, focusing on four major grain legumes. The project is operating in eight African countries (DR Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Zimbabwe) and three subregions over 4 years. Partner institutions involved in the project include national agricultural research and extension systems (NARES) of countries in West, East, and Southern Africa, AGRA, TSBF-CIAT, IITA, ICRISAT, EMBRAPA, ACIAR, and TLII.(IITA, 2010)


Unlocking markets to smallholders: Lessons from South Africa

This book assesses the institutional, technical and market constraints as well as opportunities for smallholders, notably emerging farmers in disadvantaged areas such as the former homelands of South Africa. Emerging farmers are previously disadvantaged black people who started or will start their business with the support of special government programmes. Public support programmes have been developed as part of the Black Economic Empowerment strategy of the South African government. These programmes aim to improve the performance of emerging farmers.This requires, first and foremost, upgrading the emerging farmers’ skills by providing access to knowledge about agricultural and entrepreneurial practices. To become or to remain good farmers they also need access to suitable agricultural land and sufficient water for irrigation and for feeding their cattle. Finally, for emerging farmers to be engaged in viable farming operations, various factors need to be in place such as marketing and service institutions to give credit for agricultural inputs and investments; input markets for farm machinery, farm implements, fertilizers and quality seeds; and accessible output markets for their end products.This book develops a policy framework and potential institutional responses to unlock the relevant markets for smallholders.PDF:


Framework for an inclusive food strategy – Cooperatives: key to integration of smallholders in value chains

The hypothesis of this study is that the resolution of current and future imbalances in food supply is virtually inconceivable without tapping into the underused agricultural production potentials of existing small-scale farms in many developing and emerging economies. Written from an economic and business friendly perspective, this report by Rabobank researchers sees small farmers in developing countries and emerging economies are the key to a successful approach to the world food problem.As smallholder productivity is still very low, a large underexploited food production potential is yet to be unlocked. The establishment of farmer cooperatives would facilitates their connection to the markets and the international food chains and provides access to financial services. The authors argue that the productivity of smallholder agriculture may increase substantially through the interaction between commercial players in the food chain and farming organisations, as well as through partnerships with governments.(Rabobank Economic Research, 10/2012)News:


Consent and conservation: getting the most from community protocols

A wealth of traditional crop varieties, medicinal plants and other genetic resources are under the care of indigenous people and local communities – who need legal rights to manage them. New legal backing comes from the 2010 Nagoya Protocol to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, which requires prior informed consent for access to traditional knowledge and genetic resources, and calls for support of ‘community protocols’ that set out rules for access and benefit sharing. Community protocols are not just about indigenous rights: they clarify expectations for business and government, preserve irreplaceable biological resources, and support climate change adaptation and sustainable development. But to get these benefits, governments must back up the Nagoya Protocol with national laws and institutions, and support community-led participatory processes. Community Protocols are a vital way forward for negotiating agreements that are equitable, and conserve their local biodiversity and traditional knowledge.(IIED, 10/2012)


Multiple ways of supporting the conservation and use of traditional crop varieties

Devra Jarvis of Bioversity International and colleagues, reviews and discusses how studies on (i) on-farm diversity assessment; (ii) access to diversity and information; (iii) extent of use of available materials and information; and (iv) benefits obtained by the farmer or farming community from their use of local crop diversity, are necessary to identify the different ways of supporting farmers and farming communities in the maintenance of traditional varieties and crop genetic diversity within their production systems. Throughout this paper, two key themes are emphasized. First, any description or analysis within the four main areas (assessment, access, use and benefit) can, and most probably will, lead to a number of different actions. Second, the decision to implement a particular action, and therefore its success, will depend on farmers and the farming community having the knowledge and leadership capacity to evaluate the benefits that this action will have for them. This in turn emphasizes the importance of activities (whether by local, national and international organisations and agencies) of strengthening local institutions so as to enable farmers to take a greater role in the management of their resources.(Bioversity International, 10/12/2012)


Performance and impacts of conservation agriculture on family farms in the South

This meta-study conducted by scientists from CIRAD (France) and partner institutions in Brazil, presents the advantages and limitations of conservation agriculture (CA). It shows that while CA is a viable option to achieve sustainable and intensive crop production, its success mostly results from the permanent presence of organic mulch on the soil surface and the incorporation of cover crops in the rotations. Thus, applying CA principles requires a significant reorganisation of the production process at farm level, and when facing technical or socioeconomic constraints, most farmers usually opt for applying only partially the three main principles of conservation agriculture. The authors point to further investigations into the consequences of such partial implementation of conservation agriculture principles on its actual efficiency.(CIRAD, 09/2012)