Design challenge: How might we facilitate the involvement of farmers in action research development and implementation, from defining research questions and collecting data to proposing solutions based on empirical information.
Improving farmers’ capacities for sustainable climate-resilient crop production intensification and diversification, is often hindered by complex “technology-creation/transfer” processes. Additionally, often neither farmers’ priorities and constrains are considered while developing action research, nor are farmers part of research processes thus results and recommendations do not reflect their reality. Further, usually action research does not address the information/knowledge needs of farmers, but rather the priorities of external stakeholders. The experiment aimed at facilitating the involvement of farmers in action research development and implementation, from defining research questions and collecting data to proposing solutions based on empirical information. This is through elimination of entry barriers related to complex agroecological concepts that usually require numerical or textual data in situations when literacy levels are a constrain.
A total of 14 participants were trained on use of building resilience tool of which 7 were women. Later the participants facilitated workshops in 8 different villages where more than 300 farmers were consulted. One third of the farmers consulted were women and 40% were young farmers (less than 30 years old). Based on consultations results, experiments were established on; biochar production and utilisation; management of beehives; management of young woodlots; nursery management for local tree species; and testing of monitoring applications by farmers.
Further, with current project continuing for at least three more years, there is potential for another round of experiment to continue improving the tools. While experiment activities focused on farmers who incorporate trees to their productions systems under an ongoing project, the experiment will scale to other agriculture practices such as potatoes, grains, and vegetables production.
Food and Forest Development Finland: Involving Farmers in Action Research Development and Implementation (PDF)