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Small Farm Resource Centers: Antiquated or Adaptable?
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Small Farm Resource Centers: Antiquated or Adaptable?


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The Small Farm Resource Center (SFRC) is a research-extension tool that coordinates trials at a central site, as well on the fields of individual farmers, with the purpose of evaluating, within the …

The Small Farm Resource Center (SFRC) is a research-extension tool that coordinates trials at a central site, as well on the fields of individual farmers, with the purpose of evaluating, within the community, ideas that have been proven elsewhere. Any new ideas, techniques, crops, or new varieties of a local crop may first be evaluated at the SFRC and promising ideas extended to local farmers with little risk. This adaptive research is done directly by the non-governmental agency (typically missions
organizations and other small institutions) and local farmers and extended to the community.

Presented by Dr. Abram Bicklser and Dr. Ricky Bates at the ECHO Asia conference in Chaing Mai, Thailand, in October 2013

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  • 1. Small Farm Resource Centers: Antiquated or Adaptable? By Abram Bicksler, Ph.D. Ricky Bates, Ph.D.
  • 2. Introduction and Project Background • Agricultural extension in Asia has existed since 535 B.C. in China • Agricultural extension promoted by William Carey in India in the 18th century – 5 ac of land near Calcutta to study new crops for the region • Sam Higginbottom (1910) established agricultural institute in Allahabad, India – Modern farming techniques and implements – Improved crops and livestock breeds – Still in existence
  • 3. Introduction and Project Background • Brayton Case (1923) established Pyinmana Agricultural School in Burma – Provided agricultural education for young Burmese and outreach to communities – Improved livestock and crop breeds • Rise of the NGO SFRC- after WWII – Usually associated with an NGO or religious institution focused on underserved populations
  • 4. Introduction and Project Background Rise of the NGO SFRC after WWII – Example: Mindanao Baptist Rural Life Center (MBRLC) begun in 1971 – ECHO founded in early 80’s – Dr. Martin Price (of ECHO) wrote concept paper on SFRC in 1992 – However, started to fall out of vogue- Farmer Field Schools, Farmer Led Extension, and PRA coming to forefront
  • 5. Introduction and Project Background • Baseline – No systematic evaluation undertaken – Loose grouping of SFRCs in Asia (known by ECHO?) Asking the question: Antiquated or Adaptable? Is the SFRC still of use to agricultural communities as a valuable extension and outreach tool?
  • 6. Methodology and Approach • Funding through MEAS- effort to strengthen global extension work, especially in Global South • Chose 7 SFRCs throughout SE Asia • Contacted all directors in Dec with written survey covering 36 questions • Conducted personal visit to all SFRCs to collect information
  • 7. Methodology and Approach • 3 days at each SFRC – 1-1.5 days with staff • • • • • Stakeholder identification SWOT Interviews Needs assessments Perceptions surveys – 1-1.5 days with beneficiaries/stakeholders • Interviews • Needs assessments • Perceptions surveys
  • 8. Methodology and Approach • Created 7 Case Studies (1 for each Center) • Created a Synthesis/Lesson s Learned about all of the centers • Lessons Learned will be our focus today
  • 9. The SFRC Model • In its simplest form, an SFRC is: – A research-extension tool • That coordinates trials at a central site • As well as potentially on the fields of individual farmers – With the purpose of evaluating, • Within the community, – Ideas that have been proven elsewhere
  • 10. The SFRC Model • This adaptive research is – Conducted directly by the NGO (missions organization, individual, o ther institution) • And local farmers – Extended to the community • After it has been proven and verified
  • 11. The SFRC Model • Some marks of “typical” (if there is such a thing) SFRC include: – Involves minimal risk to local farmers – Employs innovative (nonmainstream?) approaches – Builds such confidence among stakeholders that resources and ideas are readily and organically adopted and adapted – Extends resources that are readily (culturally) accepted
  • 12. The SFRC Model • Some marks of “typical” (if there is such a thing) SFRC include: – Has a distinct focus group (geographic, ethnic, linguistic, etc.) with determined needs – Identifies and utilizes early adopters and “positive deviants” – Is not necessarily limited to agriculture, but may include other social-development foci, such as: • • • • Health Sanitation Energy Citizenship…
  • 13. The SFRC Model • Some marks of “typical” (if there is such a thing) SFRC include: – Places a priority on community-based services – Is rooted in a local context – Is often defined by organic growth, outreach, and adoption
  • 14. The SFRC Model • Overall goal: – Local farmers/beneficiaries are: • Encouraged to learn how to do their own testing of new ideas • Adopt those successful technologies • Adapt those technologies and improve upon them • Extend the adopted/adapted technologies to their fellow farmers and back to the SFRC – Community food security and livelihoods are improved within the scope of the objectives of the community
  • 15. The SFRC Model • SFRCs may use a combination of approaches: – On-Center demonstrations – Off-Center demonstrations – On-Center trainings – Off-Center trainings – Off-Center extension
  • 16. The SFRC Model in Practice • On-center demonstrations and research
  • 17. The SFRC Model in Practice • On-center demonstrations and research
  • 18. The SFRC Model in Practice • On-center demonstrations and research
  • 19. The SFRC Model in Practice • Off-center demonstrations
  • 20. The SFRC Model in Practice • Off-center demonstrations
  • 21. The SFRC Model in Practice • Off-Center Demonstrations
  • 22. The SFRC Model in Practice • On-center trainings
  • 23. The SFRC Model in Practice • Off-center trainings
  • 24. The SFRC Model in Practice • Off- center extension
  • 25. The SFRC Model in Practice • Typically, very tight input-output loops; reduces dependency, saves money
  • 26. The SFRC Model in Practice
  • 27. Methodology and Approach
  • 28. Ntok Ntee • • • • • • • • Year Founded: 2012 Location: Cambodia Size: 7.5 ac / 3 ha Main Approaches: Plant and livestock demonstration, evaluation, and introduction # Staff: 5 # On and Off-Center Activities: 5 Beneficiaries: 3,000; mainly the Bunong minority Unique Findings: Newest SFRC; firmly rooted in agronomic evaluations and introductions
  • 29. Farm Center Indochina (FCI) • • • • • • • • Year Founded: 2009 Location: Indochina Size: 111 ac / 45 ha Main Approaches: socially engaged for-profit business; focused on organic produce # Staff: 14 # On and Off-Center Activities: 18 Beneficiaries: 3,000; mainly consumers, staff, coop organic farmers and their families Unique Findings: only for-profit SFRC; located in a difficult country in which to act as a business
  • 30. Sustainable Ag Training Center • • • • • • • • Year Founded: 2005 Location: Myanmar Size: 79 ac / 32 ha Main Approaches: Agricultural and vocational training and outreach to marginalized communities # Staff: 6 # On and Off-Farm Activities: 8 Beneficiaries: 10,000; mainly marginalized communities Unique Findings: Diversified mix of income streams: training and lodging fees; sale of SFRC products
  • 31. Aloha House • • • • • • • • Year Founded: 1999 Location: Palawan, Philippines Size: 6.9 ac / 2.8 ha Main Approaches: Orphanage and sus ag farm offering trainings and consulting # Staff: 14 # On and Off-Farm Activities: 55 Beneficiaries: 20,000 people; including communities, online users; children; tour groups Unique Findings: farm is profitable and offsets 25% of orphanage operating costs; uses profit sharing with employees; impact is extended using the internet
  • 32. Siloam Karen Baptist Life Development Center (CUHT) • • • • • • • • Year Founded: 1960 Location: Chiang Mai Size: 9.1 ac / 3.7 ha Main Approaches: Religious education, ag, and community development # Staff: 20 combined with BS # On and Off-Farm Activities: 20 Beneficiaries: 17,500; mainly Karen communities impacted by Bible school graduates Unique Findings: Oldest SFRC; community development work has ebbed and flowed through the years; much of funding comes through TKBC churches
  • 33. TLCC Bi-Vocational School • • • • • • • • Year Founded: 2001 Location: Doi Saket Size: 6.7 ac / 2.7 ha Main Approaches: Religious, agricultural, and vocational training # Staff: 10 combined with BS # On and Off-Farm Activities: 10 Beneficiaries: 12,000/ 40 congregations; mainly Lahu communities through training of students Unique Findings: Students and target communities very interested in engagement through extension
  • 34. Upland Holistic Development Project (UHDP) • • • • • • • • Year Founded: 1996 Location: Mae Ai, Thailand Size: 15 ac / 6.1 ha Main Approaches: Demonstration farm; trainings; extension work # Staff: 15 # On and Off-Farm Activities: +200 Beneficiaries: 7,000; mainly marginalized communities Unique Findings: over 200 activities in 20 villages; uses a village cost-share system (70/30); diverse palate of development skills and stakeholders
  • 35. Averages • • • • • • • Average Years: 16 years old Average Size: 59.9 ac / 24.2 ha Average Cost to Build: $242,143 Average Cost to Operate: $28,515 Average # Staff: 12 Average # On-Center Activities: 43.7 Average # Off-Center Activities: 3.3
  • 36. Averages • • • • Average # Stakeholders: 12.9 Total # of Beneficiaries: 72,500 Average # of Beneficiaries: 10,357 Average cost to build per beneficiary: $43.9 USD • Average cost to build per beneficiary over time: $8.4 USD • Operating cost per beneficiary: $7.9 USD
  • 37. Lessons Learned
  • 38. Lessons Learned • The SFRC model works particularly well among marginalized/ underserved populations – Esp. where government extension is not-present – Or government extension is present but focused on commodity crops • SFRCs focus on local farming communities – But often extend reach & impact beyond their locality and focus group
  • 39. Lessons Learned
  • 40. Lessons Learned • Successful SFRCs engage in a dynamic AT evaluation and demonstration process – Active and evolving centers of innovation; not museums • SFRCs are not islands – Develop and maintain vital connections to other centers of knowledge and innovation (AVRDC, ECHO, Universities, CGIAR Centers, etc)
  • 41. Lessons Learned
  • 42. Lessons Learned • Growth/scale-up is an organic process – Funding, capacity of Center, ability of staff – Infrastructure, land (amount and type) • Successful SFRCs develop stable income streams – Evaluate to maintain profitability – Utilize as training tools
  • 43. Lessons Learned
  • 44. Lessons Learned • Successful SFRCs develop long term goals for the Center and outreach efforts – Commensurable? Complement or compete? • SFRCs develop and nurture multifaceted project repertoire – Language skills, diversified income streams, cultural identity, etc. (livelihood development)
  • 45. Lessons Learned
  • 46. Lessons Learned • SFRCs possess a toolkit of approaches and methodologies – Large group training, strategic farm visits – Importance of trusted extension ‘agent’ • Successful SFRCs understand, differentiate and target higher order needs (gender issues, citizenship, language) and basic physical needs (food, water, sanitation)
  • 47. Lessons Learned
  • 48. Lessons Learned • SFRCs constantly conduct insightful needs assessment of beneficiaries – Maintains relevance, ensures effectiveness – Empower beneficiaries to share/prioritize needs and create/prioritize solutions • SFRCs realize importance of project management and evaluation – Stewardship and impact – Outside consulting services
  • 49. Lessons Learned
  • 50. Lessons Learned • Working within the existing legal and nationstate framework – May limit scope / efficacy – Builds legitimacy; may win advocates • Successful SFRCs look for appropriate champions
  • 51. Conclusions • Religious affiliations have been vital to the establishment and ongoing maintenance of the SFRCs • The topics and methodologies (focus areas as well as income streams) used by the SFRCs was very broad in scope • SFRCs serve a vital role in collecting, verifying, and disseminating useful livelihood approaches to underserved and/or marginalized populations
  • 52. Conclusions • SFRCs seem most relevant when their approaches are rooted in needs assessmentresponsive to changing needs • Not antiquated, but adaptable to meet the changing needs of the clientele to whom they aspire to serve
  • 53. Acknowledgements • • • • • USAID MEAS The 7 SFRCs, their directors, and staff Rebecca Garofano ECHO
  • 54. Terms of Use: © Abram Bicksler and MEAS project. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Users are free: • to Share — to copy, distribute and transmit the work • to Remix — to adapt the work Under the following conditions: • Attribution — Users must attribute the work to the author(s)/institution (but not in any way that suggests that the authors/ institution endorse the user or the user’s use of the work).
  • 55. Disclaimer: This presentation was made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development, USAID. The contents are the responsibility of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.