Innovative rural advisory services approaches
A volunteer farmer trainer in Uganda shows visitors her fodder demonstration plot
Since the decline of government-sponsored extension systems during the 1980s and 1990s, little attention has been given to rural advisory services. This is particularly a problem for agroforestry practices because they are knowledge-intensive and require considerable skills that most farmers lack, such as raising seedlings in a nursery, pruning trees and harvesting tree products. How to facilitate the spread of innovation and how to help farmers access outside information are key challenges for improving livelihoods.
Our overall research question is: How can innovative extension approaches foster entrepreneurship, improve farmers' capacity to innovate, and facilitate the spread of agroforestry practices? More specifically, we examine:
- What are the key factors affecting the impact of innovative extension approaches such as volunteer farmer extension programmes, rural resource centres and SMS market information systems?
- How does the impact of innovative extension approaches vary by commodity, by land use system, by social setting and by region?
- Heifer International, USA
- Technoserve, USA
- International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Kenya
- Global Forum for Rural Advisory Services, Switzerland
- Michigan State University, USA
- CABI, uk
- Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
- Department for International Development (DFID), United Kingdom
- US Agency for International Development (USAID)
- Belgian Development Corporation, Belgium
- International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)
Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Cameroon, Malawi
Livestock feeding systems and market access
As part of the East African Dairy Development project, the World Agroforestry Centre is working to improve feeding systems of smallholder dairy farmers through introducing improved fodder shrubs, herbaceous legumes and grasses, and promoting feed conservation. Marketing is a key feature of these interventions, and the Centre facilitates the development of seed and nursery enterprises. It also helps farmers link to business development services along the value chain such as feed suppliers and seed companies. The use of volunteer farmer trainers as a dissemination pathway is being tested and the trainers are assisted to develop enterprises for marketing inputs (e.g. seed), products (e.g. fodder) and services (e.g. making silage) which they are demonstrating. The process by which farmer trainers become business service providers is being researched and their effectiveness in disseminating innovations assessed.
For more information see:
- East Africa Dairy Development Project website
- Fodder trees for more milk and income
An impact case study produced by the UK's Department of International Development (DFID)
- Fodder shrubs: milking success
A short film which explains how the introduction of low cost, easy to grow fodder trees for cattle feed is boosting milk yields and increasing household incomes by US$30-120 annually. Produced b DFID.
- Grassroots organizations: How effective are they in disseminating agroforestry innovations?
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