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Do Farmer-Participatory Methods Apply More To High Potential Areas Than To Marginal Ones?

J. R. Witcombe
Published 1999 · Economics

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Farmers had not adopted new technologies in complex diverse and risk-prone (CDR) agricultural environments. Farmer-participatory research was developed as an alternative to the top-down, transfer of technology approach to agricultural research and extension that had demonstrably failed in marginal areas. However, in more favoured ones, there is also, at best, a significant lag in the adoption of modern technologies and, at worst, the adoption of modern technologies is incomplete. Varieties with wide adaptation are grown in high potential production systems (HPPSs) but this is not a unique property of such systems, because widely adapted varieties are also found in marginal areas. Hence the type of variety grown in high potential and marginal environments does not justify different degrees of farmer participation. The ‘transfer of technology’ extension methods employed in HPPSs use fewer resources than participatory ones developed for marginal areas, but participatory methods can be adapted for HPPSs and made cost-effective. Ongoing research in HPPSs in Nepal and India has shown that production increases when farmers adopt new varieties identified in participatory research. If participatory approaches were widely applied in these systems, they would contribute greatly to the food security of the developing world with its rapidly growing population.
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