There is a brief review of Rapid Rural Appraisal (RRA) and Agroecosystem Analysis (AA). The concepts underpinning these methods, particularly the emphasis on locally attained data, are explained, and their application is expounded. The multidisciplinary aspect of these methods is focused upon. There is a detailed bibliography.
Rapid Rural Appraisal strategies for collecting and analysing data: Papua New Guinea Export Tree Crops Study
This paper establishes models for the collection and analysing of data for the Papua New Guinea Tree Crops Study. Four schemes of rural data collection are distinguished: pure monitoring; research for large-scale projects; research that is participatory and small-scale; and, research that strikes a balance btween the second and third schemes. The paper states that the Papua New Guinea Export Tree Crops Study requires characteristics from all of these schemes and attempts to provide a sythesis of "top down" and "bottom up" approaches for this study.
Sustainability in Agricultural Development: trade-offs with productivity, stability, and equitability
This paper aims to estabish a working definition of sustainable agriculture. The paper advocates Agroecosystem Analysis, using the concepts of agroecosystems, agroecosystem hierarchies, agroecosystem properties and their trade-offs to stimulate interdisciplinary analysis. The paper argues that defining sustainability in terms of preservation or duration has little practical value. Long-term experiments to measure persistence are of research interest but take too long to constitute a practicable analytical method. By contrast, measuring the ability of an agroecosystem to withstand stress and shock is a subject for experiments using classical agricultural mothods. High sustainability is not the only desirable aspect of agricultural production and in many situations it may be necessary to trade a degree of sustainability for higher levels of productivity or equibility.
The book is aimed at any individual who is attempting to understand, with limited time and resourses, any local system. It describes Agroecosytem Analysis (AA), an exploratory Rapid Rural Appraisal methodology. AA is a systematic but flexible workshop procedure, based on systems analysis, for determining research and development priorities in rural development. The book aims to supplement readings from a bibliography that is supplied.
It focuses on social processes, experiential, practical and political elements which are often overlooked in the literature on agricultural research and extension. Methodological issues raised by a shift in theoretical perspectives from a structured to diverse approach are explored. A broader view of the 'farmer' is called for: an approach that locates farmers, researchers and extensionists as social actors within the process of agricultural production and extension. Methodology in agricultural research and extension is clarified at the outset, with challenges to mainstream thinking in agricultural development reviewed. The paper finally explores ways to enrich current agricultural research and extension through new forms of practice.
This paper clarifies "the role of methodology in agricultural research and extension", reviews a)"challenges to mainstream thinking in agricultural development" and b) recent participatory methodologies and explores ways to enrich current agricultural research. It does not consider PRA itself except as one of a range of methods. Rather the paper seeks to contextualise PRA within other participatory methods, and within historical developments that have led to the development of these methods.
This paper considers the work of the Adaptive Research Planning Team (ARPT) in Zambia in the light from the conventional "transfer of technology" paradigm to a "farmer first" approach. It deals with the central issues facing ARPT in its move towards increasing levels of farmer participation in the adaptive research work of provincial teams. It aims to establish what participation means to APRT, why APRT should pursue participation and how this can be achieved. The central problem facing APRT is reconciling its push for increased participation in agricultural research with the "top down" approach characterising much of the rest of APRT. The paper indicates that the "farmer first" approach should be more widely adopted throughout development work, not just in agriculture - in other words "farmer first" marks a new paradigm for all development work.
In September 1991 a workshop on participatory methods for working with farmers was held for one national and eight provincial teams which comprise the Adaptive Research Planning Team (ARPT) in Zambia. Its main purpose was to evaluate the the bean or finger millet varieties that the groups had been working on. Matrices were the prime method of evaluation generated through discussions held with farmers. The paper looks at the setting up of the matrix, the ranking exercise and arguments with respect to the value of the three varieties. The matrices were concluded to be successful in highlighting each of their strengths and weaknesses, as well as indentifying the various characteristics of millet varieties. From the discussion with farmers, researchers were able to ascertain which characteristics of the varieties were most highly prized.
It describes and discusses the extension paradigm and qualitative research methodology known as "Rapid Rural Appraisal", in relation to a farmer focused survey conducted in the MIA by a multidisciplinary research team, referred to as the "Griffith RRA". The paper compares two extension approaches: the Transfer Technology (TOT) and Farmer First paradigms. It then concentrates on the latter, looking specifically at the "Griffith" approach and the subsequent analysis. It is concluded that there is significant potential for the RRA methodology to enhance farmers' participation in extension and research.
It concerns an attempt to describe the origins and process of the "Griffith RRA" approach, developed by staff at Charles Sturt University, and looks at what a team learnt from a specific RRA exercise of this nature, during January 1993. The paper includes a section looking at the methodology of this exercise; the background to the "Griffith RRA" methodology; a look at the results of the analysis; followed by a discussion of its findings. One of the main conclusions of the paper is that researchers using RRA must be prepared to trust and stick to their aims and draw honest insights from qualitative data, rather than looking for quantitative analysis to apply when none was intended at the outset.
It describes the activities of ActionAid in the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan, specifically in an area known as Hazara. An essentially descriptive account, it begins by considering the general characteristics of the region: who live there, how they live, and a brief assessment of the level of development. The emphasis is on agriculture and its impact on the local economy. Finally, a brief account of ActionAid's activities is given. PRA has been at the heart of ActionAid's approach, helping the people of the region to identify their own priorities.
This paper will be of interest to agriculturalists, researchers and fieldworkers, and those working at the community and project level. It notes several misconceptions which limit researchers in their investigation of local knowledge concerning crop health. Farmers have many ways to assess and influence the health of a crop without explaining it in terms of a disease. It may often be useful to carry out a parallel study of the analytical principles in understanding personal health within the community, as this will shed light on health in the plant world. Explanations also need to be considered in association with different socio-political contexts. The paper warns against the use of formal methodologies and data collection tools, as they are seen as being inappropriate in the context of learning how farmers understand crop health. It is also seen as important to look as much at variations in the production system as it is at the norm. Indeed, the paper warns against any notion of the norm. Finally, it is also suggested that researchers be careful to avoid choosing informants who have a high profile in terms of their perceived farming skills.
Comparing Formal And Informal Survey Techniques For Farming Systems Research: A Case Study From Kenya
This report evaluates the benefits of conducting a formal survey, in addition to an informal or rapid reconnaissance survey, in the diagnostic phase of a farming systems research program. The purpose of the survey was to develop an understanding of local farming systems and to plan a program of experiments to address farmers problems. The researchers evaluated the benefits of the formal survey by comparing data collected in an informal survey to data collected in a subsequent formal survey. the researchers found that the contribution of the formal survey was marginal to its costs. According to the rating system outlined in this paper, 87% of the parameter estimates in the informal survey were highly or moderately accurate. The experiments proposed following the informal survey were modified only slightly as a result of new findings from the formal survey. the data thus support the hypothesis that the informal survey is an effective and sufficient method of developing an understanding of farming systems and planning experimental programs for farmers.
Ethnoveterinary Knowledge Among Pastoralists in Eastern Sudan and Eritrea: Implications for Animal Health, Participatory Extension and Future Policy.
This research is primarily a critique of the existing agricultural extension approaches, with substantial description and evaluation of indigenous knowledge among pastoralists in eastern Sudan and Eritrea, in the context of postwar reconstruction and development. It makes specific recommendations to advance the integration of indigenous knowledge in development as a way of enhancing the capacity of individuals and institutions to make good use of existing skills.
As part of the Kenya Indigenous Forest Conservation Programme, staff at Kakamega forest have been involving local people in forest management. This included individual households as well as local administration. Both sustainable forest use and opportunities for income generation outside the forest were examined. Self help groups were formed, and a number of different vegetable growing methods developed. The evaluation team used PRA to discuss the benefits and problems of the programme - spontaneous development of other self-help groups, increased interest and increased awareness and concern over environmental isses, although some groups had greater problems, and groups that did well had worries for the future over marketing. It is unclear whether this had decreased the impact on the forest area.
This paper concerns seasonality diagrams drawn up by farmers during a RRA/PRA training workshop, carried out in western Nepal. Subsequently, the results obtained via the seasonality diagramming were compared with scientifically-collected meteorological data from a nearby agricultural research centre. After briefly reviewing some important methodological data, the paper moves on to discuss the 'goodness of fit' of the two data sets. It concludes that as far as the scientifically collected data represents the 'real data', the data collected from the farmers represents a remarkably good approximation. In fact this latter data set is not only accurate, but, was also constructed in a far more cost effective manner, taking very little time.