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That the wealthier farmers leave the groups need not be of serious concern, since the RIPAT project targets the lower middle class of small-scale farmers. However, there is some qualitative evidence that women who are heads of households, have absent husbands, or have many children to take care of may find the group work requirements too burdensome. One example is the woman described in Box 7.3 in Chapter 7. She had four adult children of her own and the responsibility of raising six of her sister’s children, aged between 1 and 15. RIPAT was an attractive project for her, both for social and technology transfer reasons, but the group work requirements were too much on top of her existing workload. She therefore decided to leave the group.
8.4 What characterizes the inactive groups?
To be able to further strengthen the composition of future groups, it is useful to understand how the three now-inactive groups from RIPAT 1 differ from the 13 groups that were still active at the end of 2011. The groups that we term ‘inactive’ are the groups that, according to our quantitative survey, owned no land, had no plans to plant new banana stools, or did not seem to have had any produce to sell or share in the previous 12 months. These groups are also the ones that RECODA staff recognize as being the least active groups.
It is striking that members of inactive RIPAT groups have a statistically significant lower probability of being poor than members of active groups, again suggesting that the wealthier farmers have relatively less to gain from being in a RIPAT group, and that the group is more likely to be a lower priority for them. In one of the RIPAT 1 villages, for instance, most of the villagers were involved in seed production for several big seed companies. This business was much more lucrative than banana production, and hence buying a plot for banana production made no sense. For these farmers, the RIPAT project had limited relevance and the local group soon dissolved.
Another factor that seems to have had an influence on the successful outcome of a RIPAT group is the age distribution within the group. According to our household survey, more than half of the members of the three inactive groups were over 50 years old in 2011, and only 10 per cent were under the age of 35. In comparison, the active groups have a more even distribution of members across the age range, and a quarter of the members were under the age of 35. This suggests that having a larger proportion of younger and middle-aged people in the group may have a positive influence on the group’s sustainability.
8.5 The benefits of being in a group Of the 13 groups that were still active at the end of 2011, all had bought or rented new plots for cultivation of bananas, and most had also established savings groups. Some groups remained very active in cultivating their shared group fields, while others were more actively engaged in their savings activities. Thus, the groups had become more than simply effective implementation units for the RIPAT intervention.
100 Farmers’ ChoiCe expressed gratitude for the RIPAT group and the attention it brought to the village; but some also expressed a degree of envy towards the group, finding that it tended to be favoured by the village government, for instance through extra allocation of water for the group field or free allocation of land. In one village, for instance, the RIPAT group had dissolved because they had had to hand back their group field when the lease expired.
However, the village government was interested in a continuation of the group because of the attention it brought to the village, so they allocated a new piece of land to the group.
The success of the RIPAT groups and the benefits of being a group member have resulted in an increased interest from non-RIPAT villagers in getting the same opportunities. This has made the issue of entry into and exit from a group pertinent. Since all RIPAT groups have had members who left the group, all groups could potentially incorporate new members. However, many groups have accumulated so many assets in terms of savings and crops that it would be difficult for a new member to pay what was needed to buy an equal share in the assets and enter the group. Similarly, when a group member wants to drop out of the group, he or she faces an equally big loss in terms of both tangible assets and many hours of hard work. This is a problem that hinders flexible entry to and exit from groups; it has only been identified late in the implementation process, and hence it was not taken into account when writing the original group constitutions in RIPAT 1.
In 2011, RECODA drafted new sets of rules which were adopted as amendments to the constitutions of all groups in RIPAT 2, 3, and 4. These rules laid down that, at the end of the project period, the group would take a democratic decision as to whether to continue or to dissolve. If the group dissolved, then the rules stated how the assets of the group were to be shared out between its members. If the group continued, it would still be possible for those who wished to leave to take their share of the assets accumulated by the group over the project period. Similarly, the rules stated how new members could join the group by paying a fair price for a share of the property of the group.
8.7 Conclusion Although anchoring at village level was taken into consideration by bringing village governments on board from day one, the long-term continuation of the RIPAT 1 groups has been somewhat unexpected. That 13 out of the original 16 RIPAT 1 groups were still active one year after the end of the project is an indicator of the longer-term sustainability of these groups. As will be further discussed in the next chapter (see Section 9.5), the diffusion of farming groups as a social technology to spread farming knowledge has not proved particularly successful, and few groups function in the way that they did when RECODA was involved. However, the groups have proved to be an important institution, offering new possibilities for improved livelihoods to their members. Some groups have introduced savings and credit schemes, some are considering joint marketing initiatives, and many now have the attention of the village government and have become strong groups of farmers with a say in village agricultural matters.
The riPaT grouPs 101 Note
1. The reported dropout rate of the groups varies depending on whether we consult the household survey or the group survey elements of the impact survey (see Chapter 3, Section 3.5). In the household survey, where each individual farmer was interviewed, we find that 25.4 per cent of respondents stated that they had left the group. This figure could, however, be an underestimate if the interviewers were less likely to be able to trace a dropout farmer than a continuing RIPAT farmer. In the group survey, where the group representatives were asked, we find that the groups reported dropout rates of 34 per cent, which is in line with RECODA’s own records.
Reference EDI-RF APFS data (2011) EDI-RF Assessment of Poverty and Food Security, Rockwool Foundation Research Unit, Copenhagen.
CHAPTER 9 Local adoption of social and agricultural technologies Quentin Gausset, Department of Anthropology at the University of Copenhagen 104 Farmers’ ChoiCe In this chapter, the extent of adoption of the social and agricultural technologies promoted
through RIPAT 1 is assessed. The analysis builds on three different levels of adoption:
the immediate adoption by participants, adoption on a lasting basis, and adoption of the promoted social and agricultural technologies by non-participants. Overall, it was found that both the social and agricultural technologies introduced through RIPAT have been well adopted by the project participants, and with a high degree of permanence, and that some of the agricultural technologies have also been adopted by non-participants. In particular, the improved varieties of bananas have been a genuine success at all levels of adoption, whereas adoption of the social technology, i.e. forming farmer groups for joint participatory learning, has been successful only among RIPAT farmers. Non-participants have not formed new farmer groups; this contrasts with the situation often found among savings groups.
9.1 Introduction The adoption of new crops, technologies, or knowledge is often viewed as providing a measure of the success and impact of an agricultural development project (Feder et al., 1985). The instigators of many projects hope that the new products and technologies introduced will also spread by themselves, thereby replicating the success of the project elsewhere. This chapter describes the adoption of different crops and of conservation agriculture through the RIPAT 1 project in Arumeru District in Tanzania. The chapter discusses why banana cultivation has been adopted beyond the circle of RIPAT participants while conservation agriculture has not, and why savings groups have caught on rapidly while farmer groups have not. The analysis focuses on three main explanatory factors. First, new crops and agricultural technologies will be adopted if they are adapted to local needs and constraints, i.e. if they are accessible and compatible with existing practices, and if clear benefits can be obtained. Second, new products and technologies will be adopted if they are flexible, can be tried on different scales, and provide significant benefits at all scales. Third, a specific social technology used to spread new practices (such as the formation of farmer groups) will be adopted if it matches the characteristics of the development or agricultural technology promoted (savings groups will spread, but groups of farmers practising conservation agriculture will not). The methods used to collect the data on which the context and adoption study is based are described in Chapter 3, Section 3.6.
9.2 Adoption as an indicator of the success of RIPAT 1 A common way to investigate the success of a project is to look at how much change has been introduced through it into local farming practices. To start with, one can explore whether farmers adopt new products and technologies as a result of a project. However, farmers will sometimes revert to their old methods after termination of the project, so the permanence of change constitutes a second criterion of success. A third level of success occurs when non-participants start adopting the changes introduced.
All three levels of success are found in the RIPAT 1 project. First, the project introduced a number of changes through teaching new techniques of banana cultivation, conservation agriculture, water harvesting, tree nurseries, poultry keeping, and goat husbandry, and through introducing improved crop and tree varieties. These elements were presented LoCaL adoption oF soCiaL and agriCuLturaL teChnoLogies 105 as a basket of options from which each farmer could choose what best suited his or her needs (see Chapter 2, Box 2.2). Second, some of these changes are evidently here to stay, as they make a difference to farmers’ production, food security, or labour management.
Third, some of these changes – most notably banana cultivation and improved maize, pigeon peas, or lablab crops – have spread and been adopted by farmers who did not participate in the original project.
This chapter focuses on three aspects of the RIPAT project:
• the adoption of perennial crops such as bananas and fruit trees;
• the adoption of conservation agriculture and annual crops such as maize or pigeon peas;
• the adoption of farmer groups as a social technology intended to introduce and spread new agricultural knowledge.
I discuss each of these three areas in turn, with special focus on the third level of success (further spreading), and I analyse why some products and technologies have been more successful than others.
9.3 The adoption of perennial crops (bananas and trees) The most successful crop introduced by the RIPAT project is, without any doubt, banana.
There was almost no banana cultivation in the targeted RIPAT 1 villages prior to project implementation. The introduction of banana cultivation has been so successful that many villagers refer to RIPAT 1 as ‘the banana project’. Today, in the villages involved in RIPAT 1, one finds bananas wherever there is enough water to grow them (see Chapter 10). New farmers continue to adopt bananas, and those who have already adopted them are expanding their plantations.
The immense success of banana can be explained by a number of factors. First, bananas and plantains are much appreciated as a staple of the daily diet in Tanzania and are highly valued for both cooking and brewing. Moreover, the banana is a crop of high social and cultural significance for the WaMeru and WaArusha people, who regard bananas as an obligatory component of dowry payments. In areas where bananas are not cultivated they must be purchased at a fairly high price, due to transportation costs.
As discussed in Chapter 4, Section 4.4, the WaMeru and WaArusha people now living in the study area had been forced to leave Mount Meru due to a lack of sufficient land there over a period from the 1930s onwards. When they settled on the Maasai plain, they tried to cultivate bananas, but were largely unsuccessful due to the drier conditions and lower fertility of the soil; however, they have never entirely given up trying to grow bananas, despite the poor results. When RIPAT introduced a new method of cultivating them, people were therefore extremely happy to be able to grow bananas rather than buying them at a high price at a faraway market.
Furthermore, banana cultivation was also historically the main strategy of the WaArusha and WaMeru people to intensify agricultural productivity in order to keep up with population growth in an area with one of the highest population densities in Africa (Spear, 1997). The transformation of pasture land into fields for maize and bean cultivation and the further transformation of the maize and bean fields into banana plantations on the Maasai plain thus replicate the historical intensification of production that happened previously on Mount Meru over two centuries.