The IPRA Method: Participatory Research for Agriculture
New agricultural technologies are often inappropriate to the needs of small farmers because scientists lack information about their needs and objectives. The IPRA method is a set of procedures which has been developed to put technology designers in regular contact with small farmers so they can better exchange information which will orient research to real needs. Farmers and scientists learn from each other and work together to identify problems, plan experiments and evaluate solutions. The aim is to mobilise the expertise and resourcefulness of small farmers so they can be active partners in agricultural research. The DVD demonstrates the various stages of the IPRA method as carried out in a village in rural Colombia. During first contacts with the villagers a rapport was established as the researchers attempted to carry out routine village tasks (09). Diagnostic meetings were then held for farmers to discuss common problems and the scope for improvement (10). When the farmers priorities had been established the researchers suggested new plant varieties, fertilisers and other components. The various options were considered for testing by the farmers (13). The farmers and researchers agreed on the components of the field trials and the same trial was conducted on several farms to obtain comparative results (14). The standing crop and the harvest were assessed by the farmers (17), and their families participated in evaluating samples of the products for flavour, quality and texture (18).