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CTA. 1988. On-farm experimentation. Spore 15. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/44846
On-farm Experimentation Handbook For Rural Development Projects / Kurt Steiner (a practical guide published jointly by) CTA and GTZ, the Technical Cooperation Agency of the Federal Republic of Germany
Establishing effective extension services is a major concern and challenge for many rural development projects in the majority of ACP countries. Not only do a limited number of extension staff have to reach and communicate with a large and often widelyscattered clientele there is often also a lack of appropriate extension information. Past efforts at research and extension have often been based on inadequate understanding of small farmer's conditions and production goals. This has severely limited the impact of outreach programmes and accounts for why recommendations have not been adopted by the majority of farmers. On-farm experimentation could help overcome these obstacles and CTA and GTZ, the Technical Cooperation Agency of the Federal Republic of Germany, have published jointly a practical guide on the subject: On-farm Experimentation Handbook For Rural Development Projects. On-farm experimentation is a way of adapting extension messages to the ecological and socio-economic conditions of small farmers, who are poor and lacking in resources. The methods described in this handbook were developed only recently, mainly by various international agricultural research results on farmer's fields. The author, Kurt Steiner, has worked closely with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and admits that he has been greatly influenced by the IITA approach to on-farm research. But although each centre has developed its own method the basic philosophy is the same. There is now a growing awareness among scientists and extension workers that small farmers are forced into diversification of enterprises because their resources are limited. However, diversification allows less time for individual enterprises, which makes it difficult for the farmer to adopt complex technologies, such as farming practices and materials requiring a lengthy learning process Therefore it has become obvious that technologies for resourcepoor farmers should be inexpensive, should primarily utilize resources available on the farm and should not require a great deal of learning time or management. Also, as farmers aim at maximizing returns to the most limiting factor when making farm decisions, new practices will be adopted only if they increase returns to that factor, that is to land and, especially in Africa, to labour. The new practices must be adoptable step-by-step, with each step providing enough incentive for separate adoption. The author has concentrated his efforts since 1983 on initiating and supporting on-farm experimentation programmes in GTZsupported projects in Africa and examples are drawn from Benin Ghana, Malawi and Zambia. Despite initial problems, good results were obtained in most of these programmes. This handbook is intended for use in rural projects to give project staff (agronomists, socio-economists and extension specialists) a tool to conduct exploratory surveys and then to organise the necessary on-farm experiments. Although the book focuses primarily on cropping systems, it is made clear that on-farm experimentation is also suitable for testing the performance of livestock components within family systems. The book is printed and distributed on behalf of GTZ and CTA by: TV-Verlagsgesellschaft mGH Postfach 1164 D-6101 Rossdorf 1 GERMANY