Developing agricultural solutions with smallholder farmers – how to get started with participatory approaches

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This booklet is based on the experiences of researchers and farmers working with the AusAID-funded Forages for Small holders Project (FSP) in Southeast Asia from 1995 to 1999. This project was a partnership of smallholder farmers, development workers and researchers who were using participatory approaches to develop forage technologies on farms.

This book describes the participatory approach used by development workers in Southeast Asia to help smallholders integrate the forages onto their farms. It is the third in the CIAT in Asia Research for Development series. All three books are available in Chinese, English, Indonesian, Khmer, Lao, Thai, Vietnamese and Burmese guide provides practical tips, using forage as an example, for researchers, workers, and students on how to avoid common mistakes. It was compiled by the Forages for Smallholders Project and the Lao Department of Livestock and Fisheries.

The booklet has been written to help those who want to use participatory approaches in their work but are unsure how to begin. It provides ideas as well as practical tips and basic tools to help get started. The booklet begins by discussing why participatory approaches may be appropriate and should be used before the bulk of the book presents the methods used in the FSP. This section demonstrates village selection, agreeing on issues, searching for technology options with the focus-groups, testing and evaluating options, reporting back to the village, integrating promising solutions on farms, reaching other farmers in the village and sharing successful technologies with other villages. Helpful guidelines on communication and facilitation skills are also offered, based around the importance of remaining neutral, types of questions to use, how to facilitate groups meetings and practical ways of doing so effectively.

Each section is complemented with helpful illustrations and chapter 5 sets out useful practical tools for undertaking the participatory approaches discussed previously. The booklet can be freely downloaded in 8 sections and a hard-copy version purchased via the link below.

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