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‘Business as Unusual’: a Participatory Approach in Foliage Data Collection in Tanzania

19 October 2015

Conventionally, in agricultural research projects, other stakeholders such as farmers and extension officers are usually passive participants only involved in certain parts of research. However, scientist from Africa RISING at ILRI and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in Babati District Tanzania are changing this trajectory by adopting a unique training approach that involved practical training at farm level of farmers and extension officers in collection of data to integrate improved forages into smallholder crop-livestock systems. The scientist noted that this approach is meant to generally ensure that trainees understand and remember what they have been taught while for extension officers specifically, it fosters a sense of stronger partnership between them, researchers and the farmers. In addition, the approach was meant to expose farmers to what scientists do in demonstration plots, and how data obtained can help them (farmers) make better decisions about their farming methods. Indeed, anecdotal feedback from some of the farmer trainees indicated that the training provided the best opportunity to understand why researchers collect data from their farms and most importantly, how the data is used to analyze yields as well as costs and benefits of new farming technologies. This motivated them to collect and use data to improve decision making process in their farming activities even without supervision by researchers.



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