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The ‘model farmer’ extension approach revisited: are expert farmers effective disseminators and innovators?
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The ‘model farmer’ extension approach revisited: are expert farmers effective disseminators and innovators?


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  • 1. The ‘model farmer’ extension approach revisited: Are expert farmers effective disseminators and innovators ? Steven Franzel, Charles Wambugu, and Tutui Nanok World Agroforestry Centre
  • 2. Background and objectives
    • Many extension services select “model” farmers as an extension strategy.
    • They choose farmers on the basis of their expertise.
    • It is assumed they will be good disseminators and innovators as well.
    • But are they?
    • Objectives:
      • Determine which farmers are expert farmers, good disseminators and good innovators
      • Characterize the three types
      • Assess degree to which expert farmers are also good disseminators and innovators
  • 3. Methods
    • Sample of 126 adopters was drawn from smallholder adopters of fodder shrubs, such as Calliandra calothyrsus, fast-growing leguminous shrubs for feeding dairy cows.
  • 4. Defining expert farmers, disseminators and innovators: Criteria Expert farmer Disseminator Innovator No. of fodder shrubs No. of farmers given seeds/seedlings No. of experiments conducted/new practices tested Have nursery No. of farmers given information No. of years experimenting No. years practicing No. and type of dissemination methods used Creativity of innovation Knowledge of fodder shrub practices Source of innovation
  • 5. Defining expert farmers
  • 6. Defining disseminators Table 2: Disseminator index 10 farmers disseminated to over 20 farmers each! Criteria Weight Very low 0 Low 1 Medium 2 High 3 No. of farmers given planting materials 3 0 or none 1-4 5-9 10 and more No. of farmers given information 3 0 or none 1-4 5-9 10 and more Dissemination methods used: Public forum announcement 2 No ______ ______ yes Other proactive methods 2 0 or none 1 2 3 and more
  • 7. Defining innovators Table 3. The innovator index Criteria Weight Score Low 1 Medium 2 High 3 No. of own experi-ments/ innovations 3 1 2 3 or more No. years practicing innovations 1 2 yr or less 3-5 yrs 6 yrs and more Creativity 1.5 not creative ______ Creative Source of innovation 1.5 from others ______ own idea
  • 8. Examples of innovations 46 farmers tested 30 innovations
    • Seed pretreatment
    • Propagation (direct seeding, planting wildings)
    • Spacing, configuration
    • Pest control
    • Pruning hedges at different heights
    • Feed rations
    • Composting
    • Feeding rabbits and chickens
  • 9. Table 4. Characterizing expert farmers, innovators, and disseminators NS: Not significant, *:significant at p<.05 ** significant at p< .10 Association between Expert farmer and non-experts Disseminators and non-disseminators Innovators and non-innovators Age NS NS NS Education NS NS NS Gender NS NS NS Wealth Positive** NS NS Land holding NS NS NS Off-farm income NS Positive* Positive**
  • 10. Persons who were not experts, innovators, or dissemin-ators 48
  • 11. Implications
    • Few barriers limiting farmers from becoming disseminators or innovators; women, the poor and different age groups involved.
    • An extension program recruiting farmer experts may not be very effective in dissemination; programs better off choosing farmers who are good disseminators
    • Those with off farm employment are often effective innovators and disseminators