«Deborah Duveskog Faculty of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences Department of Urban and Rural Development Uppsala Doctoral Thesis Swedish ...»
3.2 The research aim and questions Based on the problems articulated above the broader aims of this study was to develop a better understanding of how education in the rural African farming setting can contribute to development and well-being in a way that is empowering for the poor. An overall assumption of the study was that joint learning processes such as in FFS lead to knowledge and skills among participants that when translated into mind change and action, depending on favourable contextual factors, result in enhanced well-being. Enhanced wellbeing in this context is implied as a broader and more holistic definition of poverty than the common definition of well-being (Ravnborg et al. 1999, 2001). Since this research was framed with the researchers work space it also had an action learning purpose aiming to provide advice and support for practitioners and policy makers in the sector. Based on the above considerations the objective of this study was to establish what role non-formal education can play in the development and poverty reduction agenda.
By using FFS experiences in East Africa as the empirical frame and reflect on actual experiences of participants in the field, the primary research question was: 1) How does the FFS learning experience play out in the daily lives of participants and their families? By exploring this question it was envisaged to develop an understanding of to what extent the learning experience was instrumental and empowering in nature for participants. The second research question followed onto this: 2) What role does FFS play in assisting participants to take control over their own development and enhanced wellbeing? The third research question stem out of the strive to find a mean for interpretation and analysis of the content of question one and two, and is thus theoretical in nature: 3) To what extent can the learning process in FFS and its effect on participants be explained though transformative learning theory? Literature review revealed that adult education in general but more specifically transformative learning theory may offer possible explanations for changes experienced by individuals involved in deeper learning events. On the other hand since most research has been conducted in western settings and on individual learners this study provided an opportunity to contribute to theory development by exploring transformative learning in a non-western group based learning setting.
The research aim and questions (see table 1) above are addressed to varying degrees in the four papers that make up this thesis. All papers contribute to the aim and each of them addresses in some aspects the study research question.
Figure 1. The assumption of the study was that joint learning processes lead to knowledge and skills that when translated into mind change and action result into enhanced well-being.
The ways in which the papers deal with various domains of the assumed cause chain explained earlier and levels in terms of individual and group /collective level is indicated in table 1. Paper I focus on the learning process in FFS while papers II and III look at the skills, knowledge and resulting expressions of action and transformation in participants’ lives. Paper IV focuses primarily on the aspect of empowerment and enhanced well-being of participants. While the papers provide some answers to the research questions described above there are new questions and theoretical angles emerging through the findings of the study, described further in the discussion section of this document.
Figure 2. A typical small-holder farming situation in East Africa.
(Photo by D. Duveskog) 4 Background
4.1 The changing nature and needs of small-holder farming The farming context for rural small holders is changing rapidly. Land availability for agricultural production is becoming scarce in many areas and the scope for expanding irrigation is constrained. This means that farming is increasingly being done on marginal, fragile and more risk prone areas (Chambers 1997; Percy 2005). Climate variability and changing rainfall patterns put additional limitations to farming in these areas. Changing environments, mean that many farmers can no longer rely on their local knowledge the way they have in the past (Percy 2005), and through the HIV/AIDS pandemic there are large number of orphaned youths that grows up without learning basics agriculture skills from their parents, the way they naturally would. The collapse of markets of major commodities, the move towards food sales being done increasingly through supermarkets and urbanisation brings new niche market opportunities for farmers as well as increased risks (Leeuwis 2004).
Cash is becoming increasingly important due to the need to pay for health care, schooling of children etc. and this has triggered a diversification of income sources among rural farming communities (Ellis 2000). The growing importance of non-farm income for African rural households has been described as de-‘agrarianization’ by Bryceson (1996) bringing about significant changes in the often traditionally agricultural based livelihoods of African communities.
The changing situation requires farmers that are innovative and able to adjust to changing situations and new skills and capacities are needed by farmers. Traditional forms of support to rural farmers, mainly addressing crop and livestock production, do not respond adequately to farmers’ needs. It is increasingly evident that agricultural research alone cannot generate sitespecific technologies for the wide diversity of conditions of resource-poor farmers - who live in socio-economically diverse and complex situations and require adapted options for land and farm management.
This together with the increasing recognition for farming as a social as well as technical practice seems to be underlying factors for the emerging focus on innovation, experimentation and deeper learning among farmers. The past has taught us that no generally applicable agricultural development models exist, and what is needed are agricultural systems that are flexible and adapted to their environment (Leeuwis 2004). The nature of the knowledge farmers require are complex, diverse and local, and solutions needs to be developed or adapted ‘on the spot’ in close co-operation between farmers, researchers and extensionists (Leeuwis 2004).
Past extension support have often focused on farm management and innovation at individual farm level. However the nature of the challenges faced by small-holder farmers today, is above the level of individual farms and necessitates a high level of co-ordinated action and co-operation among farmers (Leeuwis 2004) if they are to access more lucrative markets for their products. History has proved that the success of farm innovation mainly depend on factors that transcend the farm level, and successful application of new innovations and technologies have collective dimensions, i.e. they require new forms of interactions and agreement between multiple actors (Leeuwis 2004). The roles farmers play in such multiple stakeholder negotiations are often determined by the social networks among actors and social capital thereby becomes a prerequisite for collective action (Ostrom 1995). However, poor farmers are rarely members of local organisations or groups, and the ones that exist often suffer from poor leadership and management capacity.
4.2 Community empowerment in the poverty debate The perception of what poverty is, is gradually emerging from the definition of people living on less than 1$ per day to a much wider and more holistic concept of peoples general well-being (Coudouel et al. 2002; Kristjanson et al.
2002). Lately poverty has been defined in terms of absence of basic capabilities to meet these physical needs, but also to achieve goals of participating in the
life of the community and influencing decision-taking (Farrington et al. 1999:
Chambers 1987). The Voices of the Poor study (Narayan 2000; Chambers et al.
2000) conducted in 60 countries showed that voicelessness and powerlessness are pervasive among the poor, affecting every aspect of their lives. Trapped in poverty and barred from opportunity, poor people live with little expectations that future will bring about any change in their lives. Sen (1997) highlights information as a crucial aspect of poverty, since it is only when poor people know what monies and services are available, that they can hold programme functionaries (public or private) to account.
Community empowerment has been an important element in political and educational practice for long but has only become a significant part of the agenda of agricultural development in the past two decades (Barlett 2005). The concept was first recognised by the World Bank in its World Development Report 2000/2001 (World Bank 2001) as one of the three pillars of poverty reduction. As an advanced form of participation, it entails farmers making their own decisions rather than adopting recommendations. Despite the lack of robust data (Alsop and Heinsohn 2005), empowerment is increasingly seen among donors and development actors as a major contributor to development outcomes (DANIDA 2004; World Bank 2001). The World Banks empowerment sourcebook states that a growing body of evidence points to the linkages between empowerment and development effectiveness both at the society-wide level and at the grassroots level (Narayan 2002). In particular empowerment is thought to (i) have a positive impact on good governance and growth; (ii) influence growth to be inclusive of the poor; and (iii) improve the outcomes of development projects (World Bank 2001) and in pro-poor market development (Narayan 2005). Rather than being the expression of any kind of liberation movement, such as the case of women’s empowerment or empowerment of indigenous people, farmers taking greater control over their lives is seen in a more non-threatening way for other sections of society (Barlett 2005).
Farmer empowerment is seen to be important for developing demand-driven advisory services with farmers articulating their demands on the basis of improved knowledge and analysis of their situations. Linked to farmer group organisations this can secure better service provision and the more efficient use of public resources. A range of disciplines shares the term empowerment and it is understood varies. It is often difficult to define in action as it takes different forms for different people and in different contexts (Page and Czuba 1999). By definition empowerment is a social process, since it occurs in relationships with others. The definition of empowerment applied for the purpose of this
Empowerment is the process of increasing the capacity of individuals or groups to make choices and to transform those choices into desired actions and outcomes. (DANIDA 2004, p 3).
4.3 The evolution of agricultural extension The understanding of the term and practice of agriculture extension has largely changed over the decades; this section provides a historic view of extension from the 1960s to current time.
4.3.1 The Training and Visit era The prevailing extension system applied since the 1960s was based on the diffusion of innovation concept developed by Rogers (1962). This concept assumes that transfer of technology and knowledge from scientists to farmers trigger development. Once innovative farmers ‘early adopters’ has adopted the new technology, others ‘late adopters, followers, laggards’ will copy them. The model is widely referred to as the linear model as it assumes a linear relationship between researchers, extension providers and farmers (Sulaiman and Hall 2002). The role of the extension agent is mainly to assist farmers putting ready-made technologies developed by research into practice, and the idea is that given certain conditions there is basically one way of managing a farm. The economic rationale for the technology diffusion concept was new high-yielding, fertiliser-responsive crop varieties available for dissemination, and high market prices caused by food shortages (Lipton and Longhurst 1989).
In the 1980s most countries in the developing world embraced the World Bank funded T&V system, which built on the diffusion of innovation concept but aimed to strengthen it by facilitating stronger linkages between research and extension, professionalism of extension staff and improved management structure of extension. The system is based on trained extension staff and subject matter specialists, who regularly, often fortnightly, visit predetermined contact farmers, according to a detailed schedule and workplan (Schwartz and Kampen 1992). The contact farmers are assumed to adopt the extension messages and spread them to other farmers in the community. Up to fifty countries adopted this system, and T&V has dominated agricultural extension in South Asia and Africa for more than two decades, much because of the strong support offered by the World Bank. More than a third of the World Bank extension projects since 1974 utilised the system, or a modified form of it (The World Bank 1990).
The term extension, as it has been used over the last decades, has no definite definition, but Van den Ban and Hawkins (1996) arrives at a synthesis that seem to harmonise the various perspectives into five goals: transferring knowledge from researchers to farmers; advising farmers in their decision making; educating farmers to be able to make similar decisions in the future;