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Savings groups involve enormous amounts of money (by local standards), and the success of the current system derives in good part from the fact that local and national authorities are actively supporting it, and can force defaulting borrowers to sell their assets and repay their debts. Interestingly, people come from the towns to borrow money in the villages, even though this means paying a higher rate of interest, because it is easier to borrow from a savings association than from a bank. This reinforces links between towns and villages, an important effect in itself, although independent from the diffusion aspect.

Savings groups provide good opportunities for businessmen and businesswomen in need of cash, but they are also a good opportunity for farmers who do not have any inclination to go into business and who just want to benefit from the interest on their 110 Farmers’ ChoiCe savings, since the rate can be as high as 60–70 per cent per year. The RIPAT groups that save money are just a few among the many savings groups in the area. However, RIPAT members, or those who have adopted banana cultivation, might have an advantage over other savers, since bananas give them a relatively secure and predictable source of income. This secure income can help the farmers to plan their savings better: they are required to contribute savings at each meeting of the savings group. A secure income is also important for farmers to meet the repayments of any loans they have taken out.

Farmer groups, seen as a social technology for learning and trying new farming techniques, did not spread spontaneously to other villages to any noticeable degree. Some RIPAT products and technologies were adopted by non-participants, but such adoption was by individual farmers rather than by groups (see also the case study in Box 8.2 of Chapter 8).1 Therefore, the social technology that relies on farming groups to spread farming knowledge has not transferred to non-participants in the project. The main reason for this is the discrepancy between the collective nature of RIPAT farming groups and the individual or household nature of farming as it is practised on a day-to-day basis. However, whenever the existence of groups is justified because of the collective necessity of a certain activity (such as the case with savings groups), we can expect to see groups that last much longer and the creation of new groups, i.e. success at all three levels. In planning new projects, it is therefore important to think carefully about the match between the social technology the projects utilize and the nature of the activities to be promoted.

9.6 Conclusion In this chapter, we have shown that the initial adoption, enduring adoption, and further spread of a new product or technology depend on a number of factors.

First, products and technologies of which the benefits are obvious and immediate are more likely to be quickly and widely adopted than those where the benefits are slower to arrive and more long term. The RIPAT project has generally been successful in identifying products and technologies that were desired by and accessible to local farmers.

Furthermore, technologies that are simple, cheap, and compatible with existing farming systems spread more easily than those that are complex, expensive, and require a radical change in established agricultural systems. In the Arusha and Meru districts, anybody can adopt banana cultivation or improved seeds, since farmers are familiar with these crops and they do not require any major reorganization of current agriculture or society.

But shifting from traditional agriculture to the full package of conservation agriculture is a long process, and one that depends on relatively complex knowledge and on radical changes in both field and livestock management. Products and technologies that are easy and accessible can be expected (if the project is successful) to spread far beyond the original project participants. However, complex and expensive technologies cannot be expected to spread quickly to non-participants; their adoption requires new projects in new locations, with new groups of farmers, new group fields, and new field schools.

Second, products and technologies that are flexible and give benefits when implemented on small as well as large scales are more likely to enjoy wide adoption.

One of the great advantages of banana cultivation is that it can be tried out either with a few plants behind the house or in a large plantation. Also, in both cases, the benefits are immediate, substantial, and proportional to the investment. Likewise, participation in LoCaL adoption oF soCiaL and agriCuLturaL teChnoLogies 111 savings groups can range from a minimal amount of saving to a very large sum of money, and, here too, the benefit is immediate, substantial, and proportional. This allows farmers who differ in terms of wealth, gender, education, and access to land or irrigation to adopt the new products and technologies at different speeds, according to their own capacities and constraints (see Chapter 10).

Third, the matching of social technologies to the characteristics of new products or techniques is important. There is a discrepancy between the individual level at which conservation agriculture or banana cultivation is usually practised and the collective level at which it is taught and trialled. It is therefore not realistic to expect that farming groups will spread to neighbouring villages outside a formalized project framework. The situation is very different for savings groups, since in that case there is no discrepancy between the social technology (based on groups) and the characteristics of a savings group that requires, by its very nature, a collective pooling of resources. Projects tend to work with groups in order to use donor money efficiently, but it should be acknowledged that there could be an incongruity between this social technology and the characteristics of certain agricultural technologies. Some things will necessarily be spread through new groups, but others will spread on an individual basis.


1. Three new groups have been created in one village with the help of the local extension officer and of a RIPAT ‘super-farmer’ from a neighbouring village, but the new groups have concentrated on banana cultivation rather than on the introduction of the complete basket of options.

References Carlsson, E. (2003) To Have and to Hold: Continuity and Change in Property Rights Institutions Governing Water Resources among the Meru of Tanzania and the BaKgatla in Botswana; 1925–2000, Lund Studies in Economic History No. 28, Almqvist & Wiksell International, Stockholm.

Feder, G., Just, R.E. and Zilberman, D. (1985) ‘Adoption of agricultural innovations in developing countries: A survey’, Economic Development and Cultural Change 33: 255–98.

Giller, K.E., Witter, E., Corbeels, M. and Tittonell, P. (2009) ‘Conservation agriculture and smallholder farming in Africa: The heretics’ view’, Field Crops Research 114: 23–34 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.fcr.2009.06.017.

Kikulwe, E.M., Nowakunda, K., Ramadhan, M.S., Nkuba, B.J. and Katungi, T.E. (2007) ‘Development and dissemination of improved banana cultivars and management practices in Uganda and Tanzania’, in E. Smale and W.K. Tuchemereirwe (eds), An Economic Assessment of Banana Genetic Improvement and Innovation in the Lake Victoria Region of Uganda and Tanzania, pp. 37–48, International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington, D.C.

Maguzu, C., Ringo, D.E., Mariki, W., Owenye, M., Kola, F. and Leseyo, C. (2007) ‘Arumeru District’, in R. Shetto and M. Owenya (eds), Conservation Agriculture as Practised in Tanzania, pp. 1–48, African Conservation Tillage Network, Centre de Coopération Internationale de Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement & Food and Agriculture Organization, Nairobi, Paris & Rome.

Spear, T. (1997) Mountain Farmers: Moral Economies of Land and Agricultural Development in Arusha and Meru, James Currey, Oxford.

CHAPTER 10 Social constraints on the adoption of improved banana varieties in Arumeru District Quentin Gausset, Department of Anthropology at the University of Copenhagen, and Anna Folke Larsen, Department of Economics at the University of Copenhagen soCial CoNsTraiNTs oN The aDoPTioN oF imProveD baNaNa varieTies 123 avoid repeating the same mistakes in the event of failure. Households that do not adopt banana might nevertheless benefit indirectly from the fact that others do adopt the crop.

As discussed in Chapter 5, RIPAT households are less likely than non-RIPAT households to have casual labour as an important income source and more likely to hire labour on their own farms; this creates more income-generating opportunities for the poorer members of the population. Yet, even though the poor might indirectly benefit from banana cultivation, this is likely to be insufficient to bridge the income gap between them and the better-off households.


1. Primary school in Tanzania covers standards 1 to 7, and the normal age of entry to primary school is seven years. We constructed a measure for household average

education by grouping household members older than six years into three categories:

0) below average; 1) average; and 2) above average education. Below average education is defined as: below primary standard 7 if the person’s age is between 15 and 60; below the corresponding school year if his or her age is under 15; or below primary standard 4 if his or her age is over 60. Average education is defined as: primary standard 7 if the person’s age is between 15 and 60; the corresponding school year if his or her age is under 15; or primary standard 4 if his or her age is over

60. Above average education is defined as: above primary standard 7 if the person’s age is 60 or below; or above primary standard 4 if his or her age is over 60. Scores for individuals in the household were averaged using equal weights.

References EDI-RF APFS data (2011) EDI-RF Assessment of Poverty and Food Security, Rockwool Foundation Research Unit, Copenhagen.

Rosenzweig, M.R. (1995) ‘Why are there returns to schooling?’, American Economic Review 85: 153–8.

CHAPTER 11 RIPAT, RECODA and government institutions Charles Aben, National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS, Uganda), Deborah Duveskog, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and Esbern Friis-Hansen, Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS) 126 Farmers’ ChoiCe This chapter assesses the institutional sustainability of RIPAT. It describes how RECODA has taken two main paths towards the promotion of such institutional sustainability.

One is the establishment of the RECODA Academy, which strengthens the links with the local governmental agricultural extension system by offering short RIPAT courses to both extension officers and RIPAT ‘super-farmers’, thereby deliberately bringing them together.

There are examples of how this has led to productive partnerships that have resulted in joint efforts to start new RIPAT-like farmer groups. The other path is the director’s ongoing advocacy efforts with local government officials at all levels, ensuring that they are aware of and accept activities undertaken in RIPAT projects.

11.1 Introduction The overall objective of the RIPAT intervention focuses first and foremost on the farming household, and is defined as being to provide ‘increased household food security and income from agricultural sources’ by bridging the technology gap, as explained in Chapter 2. However, as RIPAT has evolved, RECODA has perceived a need for the development of sustainable institutional structures to support the concept. RECODA has therefore sought to build links with government institutions, and to influence local agricultural policy and practices through these links in an effort to also bridge the ‘institutional gap’.

In this chapter, we analyse the extent to which RECODA has succeeded in promoting the institutional sustainability of the RIPAT concept. We find that RECODA has chosen two main paths in order to achieve this aim.

One path has been the establishment of the RECODA Academy, a very structured and successful institution. The main aims of the RECODA Academy are to recruit super-farmers and to equip fresh agricultural graduates, extension officers, and staff from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) involved in community economic development with training in running RIPAT-like projects, i.e. in bridging the technology gap through community mobilization, sensitization, and capacity building by utilizing locally available resources to promote self-reliance in creating food security and reducing poverty. We discuss the characteristics and achievements of the RECODA Academy in Section 11.2.

The other path is a less structured, but equally important, means of communicating information about RIPAT and gradually transferring ownership of the project to local government at all levels. Government personnel at regional, district, ward, and village levels have been involved in the initial design, implementation, and monitoring of the project, and RECODA has focused on collaborating with the agricultural extension services in the targeted areas throughout the duration of the project. In Section 11.3, we describe how RECODA has influenced local agricultural policies and how RIPAT could be a valuable addition to Tanzania’s current Agricultural Sector Development Programme (ASDP).

11.2 The RECODA Academy One of the main initiatives adopted by RECODA in the attempt to strengthen its links with local government staff and, in particular, with the agricultural extension system has been to set up the RECODA Academy. By engaging in a closer partnership with the riPaT, reCoDa anD governmenT insTiTuTions 127 government extension system, RECODA improves its institutional viability as an organization active in promoting agricultural development. At the same time, RECODA also increases the possibility of further spreading the RIPAT concept, since all graduates from the RECODA Academy are instructed in how to form and supervise new groups based on the RIPAT model.

The RECODA Academy evolved as one of the departments in RECODA. It was established because of a strong conviction that other organizations and individuals should have a better understanding of the RIPAT approach to agricultural development.

The aim of the academy is to provide for the dissemination of the best, proven, rural economic practices and approaches. The academy is unique in that it offers tailor-made courses to facilitators of rural economic development.

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