«Deborah Duveskog Faculty of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences Department of Urban and Rural Development Uppsala Doctoral Thesis Swedish ...»
Groups are further encouraged to register with the local authorities and open a bank account for sake of sustainability after the learning cycle when the group might endeavour into other activities. The group should have a leadership structure in place, with democratically elected officials and group by-laws and constitution. The ideal membership size is 20-30 farmers of mixed gender. To ensure participation by all an important component of FFS is the sub-grouping arrangements where smaller groups of 3-5 individuals are formed at the beginning of the FFS cycle. Each sub-group have their responsibilities, usually in rotation, such as hosting and leading the weekly meetings, thus the term “host-team”. It is also in these sub-groups that field core activities like the AESA are undertaken, and often each group is responsible for one treatment option in the experimental field. By choosing their own names, slogans and mottos these sub-groups have their own identity and are enforced.
Group dynamic exercises In FFS group dynamic exercises such as such as energisers, drama, song and dance are used to create a pleasant and informal learning environment. These exercises facilitate learning and create space to reflect and share. They also enhance capacity building in communication skills, problem solving and leadership skills. Further, group dynamics can be an effective way to deal with sensitive topics such as domestic violence, alcoholism as well as to memorise key technical messages in oral form. Each learning session includes a component of group dynamic usually facilitated by that day’s host team or any group member.
5.3 Existing knowledge on FFS Globally a wide range of unpublished literature, describes the successes and impacts of FFS. Aspects commonly pointed out include both increases in agricultural production and individual and collective agency. Published research indicates substantial impacts of FFS in terms of increases in farm productivity, reducing farmers’ use of pesticides and improved farming knowledge (Rola et al. 2002; Praneetvatakul and Waibel 2003; Mwagi et al.
2003; Van den Berg 2004). A number of studies discuss the role of FFS as an extension model, though with contradictory arguments. For example, Quizon et al. (2001) challenge the fiscal sustainability of the approach when implemented on a large scale due to the high costs per trained farmer. As a response, van den Berg and Jiggins (2007) have argued that FFS should not be considered as mainly an extension model but as a complementary educational instrument that provides intangible public goods that cannot be measured only in agricultural terms. Few studies have focused specifically on empowerment and FFS, but wider developmental benefits are reported in terms of poverty reduction and human and collective action (Mancini et al. 2006; Van den Berg and Jiggins 2007; Züger 2004). One of the key recommendations of the State of Food and Agriculture 2011 report for closing the gender gap in agriculture (FAO, 2011) is the scaling up of FFS “FFS have proven to be a participatory and effective way of empowering and transferring knowledge to women farmers” (p. 58).
Data from pilot phases using the approach in the East Africa region show great impacts both on productivity and empowerment aspects of the FAO model of FFS. Friis-Hansen’s (2005) study of FFS and NAADS groups in Soroti Uganda showed that FFS served as a platform and catalyst for the success of demand-driven advisory services. In a recent IFAD study (Davis et.
al. 2011) of one of the first larger FAO pilot regional FFS projects in East Africa (Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda) FFS participants showed significant differences in outcomes with respect to value of crops produced, livestock value gain, and agricultural household income as compared to the control group. The study concluded that FFS is particularly beneficial for femaleheaded and low educated households. At the regional (project) level, per capita agricultural crop and livestock income of among female-headed households doubled post FFS. While agricultural and economic impacts are fairly well documented there is very limited research done on empowerment and human transformation related impacts of FFS.
There are indications that the learning in FFS could be seen as transformative in many ways. Impacts of FFS have been shown to span far outside of the technical domain and often include human development (Züger 2004; Braun et al. 2005; Davies 2006). A study in Philippines (Palis 2006) concluded that FFS through its experiential and collective learning process enabled participants to overcome a number of cultural fears that restricted their uptake of improved technology by fostering new shared norms and corporate behaviours among participants. Through the learning that takes place in FFS farmers become prepared to deal with their challenges and obstacles, through critical thinking and collective action. This often results in farmers that increasingly are challenging authorities, such as information providers or market actors etc. Farmers are not couched into a predetermined pattern of behaviour, but rather facilitated to challenge their habitual ways of thinking and acting. According to the definitions provided by Mezirow (2000) the education in FFS could thereby be seen as transformative learning. One of the few studies on FFS using transformative learning theory (Najjar et al. 2012) found a significant change among farmers in Kenya in terms of gendered learning and change in meaning perspectives among participants on gendered farming related habits and biases. Other transformative actions and change that have been demonstrated in the FFS are change of culturally restricted farming practices, improved capacity to make informed decisions both in relation to agriculture i.e. selection of seed or input and in relation to the relationship with other actors, such as improved negotiation skills towards traders and market actors, advocacy for policy changes and rights, and formation of networks and associations (Braun et al. 2005; Sones and Duveskog 2003; DANIDA 2004).
In countries across the world FFS alumni have been successful in taking greater control over their lives. In Kenya farmer networks and associations have emerged as a follow-up effect of FFS and these units have been successful in breaking manipulative relationships with trade middlemen and thereby gained access more lucrative markets for sale of their produce (Okoth, 2006; Global IMP Facility 2003). In Cambodia, alumni are being installed on local development councils, using FFS to train handicapped farmers and studying health issues related to insecticide to raise awareness of their pesticide hazards. In the Philippines, FFS alumni have held national and local congresses to try and solve their problems (Pontius, Dilts et al. 2002). In East Africa FFS have led to the emergence of community based extension systems with institutional innovations such as farmers associations with community selffunded extension activities (Sones and Duveskog 2003; DANIDA 2004).
6 Theoretical framework A theoretical framework helps in bringing understanding of how the world is experienced. It provides a lens that frames and shapes what the researcher looks at and includes in a study and how the research is conducted (Mertz and Anfara 2006). This study builds on the theoretical perspectives of empowerment and adult learning, and in particular transformative learning theory.
6.1 Empowerment While empowerment is not a theory as such the concept is significant for the study since it is often treated as a conceptional framework in development practice and since it does provide a usual framing, drawing on a number of theories, for analysis of individual and collective agency.
If power means control, then empowerments means the process of gaining control (Sen 1997). Empowerment is, first and foremost about power; changing power relations in favour of those who previously exercised little power over their own lives. This means that facilitating empowerment means supporting people in becoming agents in their own development. A multi-stakeholder “catalytic action” in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania described by Clive Lightfoot (2002), show that farmers cannot be empowered by order from above but that empowerment comes through self-realisation, self-organisation and collective action.
The earlier discussion on power and knowledge argued that power is not a zero-sum game but a process that occurs in relationships. This understanding gives us the possibility of empowerment. i.e. if power is created in relationships, then power and power relations can change (Page and Czuba 1999). Empowerment should not be seen as synonymous with decentralization, participation or “bottom-up” approaches. It is a more powerful process (Sen
1997) that relates to the outcome or the end product of the meanings of such terms. For FFS this concept is important since FFS groups include individuals of mixed gender who strive to gain more power over their own lives, it is thus interesting to explore to what extent gaining power might have implications on their peers.
Farmer empowerment is further 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 organisation this can secure better service provision and more efficient use of public resources. It can promote farmer groups and organisations to secure better service provision and to make more efficient use of public resources. Often the meaning of the term empowerment is assumed rather than explained or defined. It is often difficult to define in action as it takes different forms in different people and contexts (Page and Czuba 1999).
Some of the definitions of empowerment suggested in recent literature are:
A multi-dimensional social process that helps people gain control over their own lives. It’s a process that fosters power in people for use in their own lives, their community, and in their society by acting on issues that they define as important (Page and Czuba 1999, p. 4).
A person’s capacity to make effective choices; that is as the capacity to transform choices into desired actions and outcomes (Alsop and Heinsohn 2005, p. 5).
Some authors, as the ones below have tried to define the term in the context of
small-holder farmers and agricultural extension:
A process that increases the capabilities of smallholder farmers and farmer groups to make choices and to influence collective decisions towards desired actions and outcomes on the basis of those choices (DANIDA 2004, p 6).
Farmer empowerment is when farmers assume the authority, resources and capabilities to hold accountable and influence the content of public and private agricultural services, such as extension, research, training, information, investment and marketing (Friis-Hansen 2004, p. 13).
By definition empowerment is a social process, since it occurs in relationships with others. It can happen at individual as well as group and community levels.
Empowerment can be seen as an advanced form of participation. However the concepts are to some extent contradicting in the sense that participation means people being given a greater role in our agenda, while empowerment is all about them taking control of their own agenda (Barlett 2005).
In the classic description of the various levels of participation developed by Pretty (1997) the highest level of participations mentioned is self mobilisation where people participate by taking initiatives independently of external institutions to change systems. They develop contacts with external institutions for resources and technical advice they need, but retain control over how resources are used. When participation goes to this level, a process of empowerment can be assumed to be underway. In reality though empowerment is often promoted under some kind of boundaries, in fact end up restricting the level of empowerment. To take an example from the FFS process, farmers are often given the responsibility to handle programme funds, however relatively strict guidelines for use of the funds restrict flexibility, they might also be taught to make their own decisions about crop management while at the same time being put under pressure to adopt or reject certain practices. This indicates that in development programmes supporting true agency is a big challenge since empowerment outcomes are highly unpredictable.
Development practitioners, aiming to facilitate and support empowerment must accept to engage in a process of transformation of themselves, since if we want farmers to gain power we must except to lose some ourselves.
Programmes also have to be flexible and open-ended as to allow people to take control and exercise agency. This means that development partners cannot decide the precise outcomes of empowerment. Predetermined desired outcomes of extension activities such as adoption rates of specific practices etc. thereby contradicts empowerment since the opportunities for self-determination among stakeholders are limited from the outset (Bartlett 2005).
The components and possible indicators of empowerment are many and cut across a range of disciplines. For example Stringer (1999) mentions: 1) pride;
peoples feeling of self-worth and dignity, feeling of autonomy, independence, competence, identity-affirmation of social identities (woman, farmer etc), 2) control; feeling of control over resources, decisions, actions, events, and activities, 3) responsibility; ability to be accountable for own action, unitysolidarity of group. The PELUM-Tz project uses farmers’ participation levels in all aspects that touch their daily life as a measurement of empowerment in a farming community. In addition, the shift of relationships between farmers’ organizations and other institutions also reflects elements of empowerment.
Factors identified as source of power listed in (Bunch 1995) are self confidence, power of coercion, money, position, prestige, influence, knowledge, organisation.
The World Bank, IFAD, FAO tend to categorise empowerment in terms of;
knowledge-, organisational- and institutional empowerment (DANIDA 2004).