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).
Fish from Malawi's lakes provide approximately 70% of the country's animal protein, although as the population has increased per capita consumption has declined. Smallholder aquaculture is expanding rapidly in the southern part of the country and has the potential to alleviate some of these shortfalls in fish supply by providing a cheap protein source (01). The film looks at a collaborative research programme developed by the Fisheries Department, the International Centre for Living Aquatic Resources Management (ICLARM) funded by GTZ, and the University of Malawi. The programme aims to develop aquaculture technology which is appropriate to the needs of rural farmers (02). Constant evaluation and feedback from farmers to researchers means that the research can be refined according to farmer's needs (03). While there had been a rapid expansion in fish farming in Malawi, catches were variable and often poor. The problems were due to a lack of suitable fish species and feeds and poor water fertility (06), as well as farmers' inability to invest and the lack of integration of fish farming into the traditional farming system (07). An on-farm survey of resources and farming systems allowed researchers to prioritise research needs and develop aquaculture models relevant to the local agricultural situation (07). Methods of increasing overall productivity were investigated, including assessing the use of grass as an input (08), compost technologies for improving water fertility (10), and integrating agriculture and aquaculture systems (12). Methods of harvesting fish using locally available materials were also investigated (14). Open days at the aquaculture centre provide opportunities for farmers and researchers to interact. Farmers also participate in on-farm discussion and testing of technologies (19). The constant evaluation and feedback from farmers to researchers means that research agendas can be refined to meet farmers needs (21).
This film demonstrates a participatory approach to crop research which has been developed by the International Crop Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in India. It aims to bring researchers closer to farmers through on-farm evaluation of pest-resistant varieties. The approach was developed to overcome the limitations of the transfer of technology approach, which is often innappropriate to the complex, risk-prone agriculture of the semi-arid tropics (07). It recognises that farmers and scientists perform complementary activities, and advocates a decentralised and participatory approach in which scientists perform a facilitating and support role (08). The research was carried out in collaboration with women farmers, who play an important role in maintaining biological diversity. First, the pest problem was diagnosed and the different varieties grown by farmers were analysed (09). In the second stage the characteristics of the farmer's varieties were matched with those of the scientist's pre-release lines. On-farm trials were then conducted in different villages (11). After harvesting the farmers carried out their own evaluation of the genetic material (14). The different varieties were ranked to elicit the farmer's preferences, according to their own criteria (16). The scientists learned that a mosaic of varieties better suit the diverse situations faced by farmers in these complex dryland environments than the uniform introduction of a standard seed (23).