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«Edited by Helene Bie Lilleør and Ulrik Lund-Sørensen Practical Action Publishing Ltd The Schumacher Centre, Bourton on Dunsmore, Rugby, ...»

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Security and the cash economy in eastern Uganda’ in Land Degradation and Development 17(2): 173–82, 2006 (with D. Kyaddondo); ‘Poultry studies and anthropological research strategies’ in Characteristics and Parameters of Family Poultry Production in Africa, published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations/International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna in 2002; and ‘Social and cultural contexts of food production in Uganda and Kenya’ in T. Weisner, C. Bradley, and P. Kilbride (eds), African Families and the Crisis of Social Change (1997).

Preface In recent years the Rockwool Foundation has increasingly supported social entrepreneurs in developing effective practical interventions with the aim of making a positive and sustainable impact on poverty, food security, and social capacity building in the targeted communities. Rockwool Initiatives for Poverty Alleviation in Tanzania (RIPAT), the intervention under scrutiny in this book, was one of the first practical interventions to receive financial and developmental support from the Foundation. The aim of RIPAT is to improve the livelihoods of small-scale farmers by ‘closing the technology gap’. This is achieved by training farmer groups in a set of relevant and efficient agricultural technologies and ensuring that each individual farmer has a genuine choice as to which of these technologies to adopt and to what extent, according to his or her needs and resources.

The story of RIPAT began with the Danish non-governmental organization PULS (Projekt Ulandshjælp til Selvhjælp). PULS was of the opinion that development assistance in Tanzania was often granted in a rather non-participatory manner, and that this reduced the chances of such assistance succeeding. In 2003 the Chair of PULS, Elly Vesterager, consulted Research, Community and Organizational Development Associates (RECODA) on how PULS could help poor communities to emerge from poverty in a sustainable way through the provision of ‘help to self-help’. This led to the first pilot project in 2003, which was sponsored by PULS and which targeted three villages in Arumeru District.

In 2005 Tom Kähler, Chairman of the Rockwool Foundation, visited two of these three villages, and on the basis of this visit the Rockwool Foundation Board decided to sponsor a similar agricultural project covering eight villages in the eastern lowlands of the Mount Meru area. This was to be a partnership project involving RECODA, PULS and the Foundation. The first project was launched in 2006 under the name of RIPAT.

In 2009 and 2010, additional RIPAT projects – RIPAT 2, 3, and 4 – were started. On the basis of these projects, an implementation manual is available for download from www.rockwoolfonden.dk.

In 2010, the Rockwool Foundation approached its Research Unit with a request to evaluate the RIPAT interventions. The Research Unit was grateful for this opportunity and appreciated the understanding that it could set about tackling the evaluation in the same way as it would any other research question. After determining that there was a need for both a rigorous quantitative impact evaluation and qualitative analyses of the actual implementation of the scheme and of the adoption and diffusion mechanisms in the local communities, the Research Unit established partnership arrangements with various external researchers, thus ensuring that the evaluation would be full and independent. In carrying out the evaluation, the Rockwool Foundation Research Unit has, as always, maintained complete scientific independence in its relationship with the Rockwool Foundation.



The RIPAT intervention and the evaluation design are described in Part I of this book, while the key results of the evaluation analyses are presented in Part II. The findings are based on a series of independent analyses conducted by the various teams of researchers involved in the evaluation study. It is our hope that readers will find the book enlightening and useful, both in its description of the combination of the various evaluation methodologies chosen to reveal what RIPAT did and did not bring about, and in the reports of the actual findings showing how an intervention such as RIPAT seems able to succeed in closing the technology gap among the targeted small-scale farmers in Tanzania.

We wish to thank RECODA for its support in giving practical assistance to the researchers during their fieldwork. Special thanks go to Dominick Ringo, Executive Director at RECODA, and Catherine W. Maguzu, Programme Director at RECODA, both for assisting the study teams and for their contributions to the description of the RIPAT project implementation.

We also want to extend our gratitude to the anonymous referee for their valuable comments, Tim Caudery, who has been a great support in copy-editing the text, and to research assistants Cathrine Søgaard Hansen and Maria Fibæk for their invaluable assistance during data collection and data cleaning.

–  –  –

The World Development Report (2008) estimates that 75 per cent of the world’s poor live in rural areas in developing countries. This accounts for an estimated 880 million rural people in the developing world who live on less than US$1 a day (WDR 2008: 1). The majority of the rural poor living in Sub-Saharan Africa depend on subsistence farming with limited access to water, land to cultivate, financial services, and technology inputs to optimize agricultural production. In addition, with growing populations, most developing countries are faced with an increasing demand for food. The agricultural sector thus continues to be of great importance both for providing food security and for rural economic development.

Nevertheless, both the proportion and the total amount of funds allocated to agriculture in official development assistance declined dramatically for two decades from the mid-1980s (OECD, 2010). Although the reasons for this decline were many, an important one was increased ‘agro-scepticism’ among donors, which was a clear consequence of failed agricultural development interventions. The failures were, however, primarily due to poor understanding of agrarian dynamics and a tendency for donors to seek ‘one size fits all’ extension approaches (WDR 2008: 41–2). This decline has only recently come to a halt as the major international organizations, with the World Bank and the OECD member countries as the front runners, have started to review their agricultural development policies and increase their agricultural development budgets (OECD, 2012). One consequence of this has been a renewed interest in different agricultural extension approaches.

In this book, a number of authors analyse and evaluate an agricultural extension approach to technology adoption among small-scale farmers. This approach is called RIPAT (Rockwool Initiatives for Poverty Alleviation in Tanzania), and deliberately takes as its starting point the fact that one size does not fit all. Between 2006 and 2012, RIPAT has been implemented among approximately 2,000 small-scale farmers in four districts of northern Tanzania in a series of four pilot projects. RIPAT can be seen as a pragmatic mix of traditional extension approaches and more recent participatory extension approaches.

It introduces a ‘basket of technology options’ to farmer groups, leaving each individual farmer with a genuine possibility of choice as to which technologies to adopt and to what extent, depending on his or her needs and resources.

Two dominant approaches to agricultural extension Agricultural extension has long been seen as key to enhancing agricultural development by improving the delivery of information, inputs (e.g. fertilizer and seeds), and new technologies to farmers. However, the effectiveness, impact, and sustainability of two dominant approaches to agricultural extension services – the ‘Training and Visit’ concept primarily promoted by the World Bank in the 1970s and 1980s, and the ‘Farmer Field Schools’ approach primarily promoted by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in the 1990s – have been widely debated.

The Training and Visit approach was developed to tackle some of the inefficiencies present at the time in traditional public extension services. It relied on a top-down extension of knowledge and technical information, with specialists and field staff transferring knowledge to ‘contact farmers’ in villages, who in turn were responsible for diffusing the knowledge into the local community. Unfortunately, the approach lacked financial and institutional sustainability, and, as the funding from the World Bank ceased and the results in terms of a sustained increase in food production and higher incomes


among the rural poor were not obtained, the system was gradually dismantled (Anderson and Feder, 2007; Gautam, 2000).

In a response to the top-down approach to knowledge transfer in both traditional public service extension models and the Training and Visit approach, Farmer Field Schools were developed as a bottom-up or participatory approach to extension, bringing applied research methodologies into the field for farmers to develop their own knowledge and analytical skills. The field is seen as the ‘school without walls’ in which farmers are assisted by an external, technically competent facilitator in conducting their own assessments, diagnosing the problems they face in improving their agricultural production, and coming up with and testing their own solutions (Davis et al., 2012). The approach represented a clear shift from pure information delivery towards participatory, experiential, and reflective learning, with a strong focus on developing problem-solving capacity among farmers and building on adult learning theory. The Farmer Field School concept was originally developed by the FAO to promote integrated pest management among Indonesian rice farmers in the late 1980s, but since then has spread to many countries and over the years has been so widely adopted and locally adapted that there is no longer a unique model for either its technical content or the educational form (Van den Berg and Jiggins, 2007). Nonetheless, its ability to ensure sustained technology adoption, diffusion to non-participants, and increased productivity is still subject to an ongoing debate about appropriate evaluation methodologies and choice of outcome measures (see, for example, Feder et al., 2004; Braun et al., 2006).

RIPAT – a modified Farmer Field School approach RIPAT can be seen as a modified Farmer Field School approach with strong elements of experiential learning, where the technically competent facilitator not only facilitates learning as in other Farmer Field Schools, but also provides traditional top-down dissemination of knowledge and training in improved technologies to small-scale farmers, similar to the techniques used in traditional extension services and in the Training and Visit programme (i.e. the training is carried out in groups and contains both lectures and practical experimentation on a common group field).

One main focus of the RIPAT approach is to close the ‘technology gap’, the gap that exists between the agricultural production achieved with currently used technologies among the targeted farmers and the production that could be achieved by the same farmers if they had access to existing improved technologies and farming techniques.

The gap is caused both by lack of knowledge about agricultural technologies and training in their use, and by lack of access to equipment and agricultural inputs for implementing these better technologies.

The aim of RIPAT is first of all to bridge this gap by providing an opportunity set – the ‘basket of technology options’ – and making sure that the basket includes the most relevant and efficient technologies. Secondly, it also aims at providing an organizational management structure that supports the best use of this opportunity set. All participating farmers are exposed to the full opportunity set of technology options through the farmer groups. It is then the individual farmer’s choice which of these technologies to adopt in his or her own agricultural production and to what extent.

RIPAT draws on the Farmer Field School set-up in that it organizes farmers into groups, and through these groups knowledge is both acquired and disseminated by conducting


Three different evaluation teams were chosen to undertake these analyses; their members are also the authors of chapters in this book. A team of economists designed and conducted a large-scale household survey in January 2011 (see Figure 1.1) and carried out the subsequent data analysis for the impact study. A team of experts in East African agricultural development and Farmer Field Schools from the Danish Institute for International Studies and the FAO undertook the implementation study. Finally, a team of anthropologists with extensive research experience in the rural areas of Kenya and Tanzania were responsible for the context and adoption study, analysing context and local mechanisms of adoption in the RIPAT 1 villages. The qualitative data collection for these studies was undertaken during May–July 2011.

In brief, the achievements of RIPAT stand out when compared with the dominant extension approaches; the first RIPAT implementation has – five years after it started – resulted in considerable levels of sustained adoption of most of the technologies introduced.

In addition, there are clear indications of considerable diffusion, and thus adoption by non-participating farmers, of the most popular technologies into the local communities.

Furthermore, it was found that the participating farmers have experienced significant positive impacts on their food security, although no impact on the risk of being poor has

been found. There are indications that these achievements are linked to two key features:

the genuine choice of adoption given to each individual farmer by presenting them with a relevant and efficient opportunity set of technology options; and the organizational management structure comprising joint learning in groups, a pragmatic combination of traditional and participatory extension approaches, and a strong focus on integrating local needs, resources, and conditions of small-scale farmers into the intervention design.

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