A multi-disciplinery team researching the food system linkages of sweet potatoes carried out four week-long rapid rural appraisals (RRAs) in the uplands of northern Philippines. The aim was to involve farmers in identifying needs and opportunities for research and development. It was found that sweet potato is grown mainly for subsistence and/or as feed for swine, and that all the work except for the fencing of plots is carried out by women. Sweet potato is an important substitute for rice, especially in times of food shortage. The information was then verified in a dialogue forum involving equal numbers of men and women farmers, extensionists, researchers and policymakers. During the dialogue forum all those involved identified the most suitable areas for sweet potato research, which were then ranked according to various criteria to establish priorities.
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The paper discusses a project which aimed to acheive agricultural diversification by encouraging the production of cotton in the Gambia. An evaluation was carried out by the ODA's food strategy group in association with the Ministry of Agriculture. The object of the rapid appraisal was to identity constraints in its expansion, to examine the distribution of its benefits between and within households and to assess its potential as a cash crop alternative to groundnuts. The methodology of the appraisal is decribed, which involved investigating the organization of farm labour and technical aspects of cultivation.
Farmer participation on on-farm varietal trials: multilocational testing under resource poor conditions
This reports on the trials of various pigeonpea cultivars. In 1989- 90, the performance of four pigeonpea genotypes resistant to helicoverpa armigera - ICPL 84060, ICPL 332, ICPL 87088 and ICPL 87089 were evaluated in on-farm trials in Medak district, Andhra Pradesh, India. Forty marginal farmers from 16 villages were asked to grow the genotypes on large plots using their own management practices, and compare them with local pigeonpea cultivars. PRA methods were used to elicit criteria for comparisons from farmers in semi-structured interviews. All participants were women farmers who play a central role in fuelwood collection and in all aspects of food production, preparation and storage. The PRA methods used were pairwise ranking and direct matrix ranking in the context of semi-structured interviews involving groups of 10-15 women.
Farmers have developed their own highly competant and often very technical ways of dealing with farming problems and land degredation. Such measures, for example erosion control or water channelling structure, have been developed from indigenous knowledge of the conditions, and are easily maintained by existing local skills. Here, it is recognised that the farmer has both engineering and managerial skills, which enable soil conservation measures to be carried out. The limits both to ITK and farmer innovations are also recognised, and the need for a compromise is stressed. A number of examples, on both agricultural land and types of drainage, are given, with illustrations.
This article reports on Tamil Nadu Agricultural University collaboration with the Ford Foundation in exploring the applicability of recent advances in farmer participatory research and extension methods to rainfed conditions in Tamil Nadu. It reports on exercises conducted over two days in Kalkaruchi village near Aruppukottai. It describes a sequence of participatory social and resource mapping exercises combined with wealth ranking that attempted to discover the poorest people in the village. The main lesson yielded from the study was that PRA methods revealed hidden complexity and can bring the poorest to the attention of investigators.
A new paradigm for sustainable agriculture has emerged with the realisation of the limitations of the dominant scientific method and an increase in interest in the participation of and collaboration with the public in agriculture. This book argues that of the many forms of participation there are some that threaten rather than support sustainable agriculture. It puts forward participatory inquiry; a structured methodology used to bring about changes in problem situations that people see as improvements, portrayed as a constructive and efficient form of participation. Participatory inquiry emphasises multiple perspectives and group inquiry as opposed to simple formal questionaires as a means to participation. It also attempts to draw up a criteria for trustworthiness of collected data. The book finally argues that participatory inquiry should not be just a tool used by planners but the basis of a new professionalism in agricultural development.
Far from being a new approach, RRA can be seen at work in 19th century England. During the last century, William Cobbett, journalist, politician and farmer, set out on a series of 'rural rides' across the counties of southern England, in order to "find out the real state of the countryside". His objective was to write articles based on his findings in order to further the cause of political and financial reform. The paper reports on some of his findings, highlighting the political issues of the day that Cobbett drew attention to.
Considers the changes that are afoot with regard to learning, research and extension within agriculture in developing countries. Decentralization, participatory approaches and such methods are gradually becoming less marginalized, with the professional rewards of their adoption rising compared with the risks. For change to be rapid and sustainable requires the mutual reinforcement of participatory methods, new learning environments, and institutional support. The paper contains sections on the following: changing phases in agricultural research, extension and development; a vision for the future; the role of governments and state institutions; non governmental organizations; international agricultural research and the CGIAR; local institutions; education and learning organizations; and institutional and policy implications for the new professionalism. It is concluded that a sound strategy is steady lateral spread through alliances, mutual support, networking, training and sharing, stressing not only methods and learning environments, but also personal behaviour and attitudes. This paper begins with the perspective that "the dominant positivist and modernist frameworks have singularly failed to help poor people and reduce inequity." It proceeds to consider the options and alternatives to the dominant paradigm considering common uniting themes. Some of these themes are: the affirmation of individuals and their perspectives, the importance of context and therefore limitations on the whole notion of transferability and replicability and the importance of participation.
It argues that even the most elaborate social surveys in the development field are one-sided, in that they answer their sponsors' questions, and not those of the people surveyed. Rapid Rural Appraisal has no methodological sophistication in which to cloak this one-sidedness. This is no disadvantage, however, for not only does RRA focus attention on an important problem, it also provides the means to solve it. Several 'quick and dirty' surveys are possible for the price of, and in the time taken by, one 'long and clean' survey. The opportunity is thus opened up for a more interactive style of applied social research, incorporating a diversity of political feedback at the earliest possible stage in the development planning process.
It starts by introducing the idea behind the Farmers' Innovation and Technology Testing (FITT), initiated by the Gambian government. Of the eight NGOs that participated in the FITT programme, two villages with farmers' groups that ActionAid The Gambia has worked with were investigated, namely, Boiram and Yonna. The wealth ranking exercise described here is part of the wider PRA exercise to evaluate the value of the FITT programme. Three key themes emerged from the wealth ranking exercise carried out in Boiram and Yonna. First, results of a differing nature were obtained from similar exercises. Second, the FITT programme did not reach the poorest in both cases. Lastly, the need to be flexible became apparent from the experience gained in both villages.
The "beans-games": experiences with a variations of wealth ranking in the Kivu Region, Eastern Zaire
It concerns a variation in wealth ranking exercise that was used in the context of a mid-term field survey. It involved socioeconomic analysis and differentiation of the target population of a rural development project in Zaire and was funded by GTZ. The paper lays out the procedure, and briefly reports on its findings; giving a justification for the use of its methodology.
Beyond Farmer First - Rural People's Knowledge, Agricultural Research and Extension Practice: Towards a Theoretical Framework.
Examines the Farmer First paradigm in the light of recent research into questions concerning the social construction of knowledge and power relations. It draws on a large and diverse body of literature from ecology, geography, anthropoplogy, sociology and other disciplines. The literature examined falls into three broad areas: (1) the nature of rural people's knowledge; (2) the interactions of actors; and (3) the institutional context. The paper contains sections on the following: contrasting representations of rural people's knowledge; power and knowledge - the theoretical setting; the social construction of knowledge; local knowledge construction; the transmission of knowledge; people's knowledge and agricultural science; methdological challenges; and finally, exploring encounter - actors and institutions.
This paper reports on the experiences gained through the application of wealth ranking techniques in Zimbabwe. It is a study of household economics and livestock production. It considers the tools used; the results, historical, ecological and gender contrasts; the process of wealth ranking; and its usefulness as a RRA tool.
The approach reported on by this paper uses the perceptions of informants to rank households within a village or quarter of a village according to overall wealth. The example comes from a RRA conducted in a village in the Sudan. Also, preference and direct matrix rankings used to investigate local incentives to tree management near Khartoum are reported. In the latter, two techniques were used: pair-wise preference ranking and direct matrix ranking. It is is concluded that ranking techniques provide a very useful way of investigating local decision-making criteria as well as providing comparisons between different priorities. The paper contains the results of the ranking procedure in tabular form, instructive diagrams and figures.
This paper describes a five day RRA exercise carried out in a village in Gujarat, in order to classify the economic status of a community. The classifications were obtained through interviews carried out with key people in the village. Each household was classified using criteria developed by the villagers themselves. The paper reports the results under the following headings: health of family members; education of children; assets ownership; credit worthiness; land ownership; part-time employment; and house size.