Networks for enhancing for
innovation development: The case
of Southern and Eastern African
Association of Farming Systems
Research and Extension
Smallholder farmers constitute the majority of the producers
in Sub-Saharan Africa and face a unique set of conditions.
• The conditions that obtain in smallholder farming areas are
behind the failure of the Green Revolution to succeed
• The conditions include unfavorable a climate, high degree
of production risks, heterogeneous production
environments, complex production systems, scarce
production resources and poorly developed markets
• The failure of the smallholder farmers to realize meaningful
improvements in their productivity has meant that sub-
Saharan Africa has remained threatened with food
insecurity and poverty.
• The shortcomings in the conventional approaches used for
developing and disseminating technologies have been
blamed for the failure to increase productivity of
• The farming systems approach to technology development
and transfer was introduced in response to the low level of
adoption of new agricultural technologies and practices by
the smallholder resource poor families.
• The majority of these technologies and the accompanying
approaches were inappropriate and sometimes
incompatible with the smallholder farming systems and the
socio-economic circumstances of the recipient farmers.
The Farming Systems Approach to Research and
• To improve the well-being of farm families by
increasing the production and productivity of the
farm and farmers’ resources.
• To support the farm household to achieve a range
of private and social goals within the constraints
It is conditioned by the natural, biological, socio-
economic, technical, and human elements, which
determine the existing smallholder farming system.
Principles of FSR-E
• The principles of FSR-E are to:
• Provide an approach for understanding the
farmers’ constraints and challenges, and how
they deal with them.
• Enhancing farmer participation in technology
development and transfer.
• Views agriculture in a wider context to include
natural resources and other crosscutting
issues such as access to markets, and value
Southern and Eastern African Association of
Farming Systems Research and Extension
• SEAAFSRE is a network of persons willing to contribute,
exchange and disseminate information on FSR-E in the
sub-region with a view to increasing the productivity
and welfare of the rural population.
• Its members are registered as individuals
• A space where anyone, located anywhere, but involved
in an aspect of FSR-E and is interested in promoting in
Southern and Eastern Africa, may become a member.
• SEAAFSRE is registered as a professional association in
Swaziland and is a constituent member of the
International Farming Systems Association (IFSA).
SEAAFSRE aims are:
• Accelerate agricultural and rural development
promoting the development of knowledge and
expertise in the field of FSR-E for development.
• Promote exchange and dissemination of FSR-E
• Introducing and sharing appropriate technological
innovations, and the development of supportive
policies, institutions and infrastructure to promote the
adoption of such innovations.
• Development of national strategies and facilitation of
the institutionalization of the FSR-E procedures and
training within the region.
• Link with the FSR-E practitioners and other related
initiatives in other parts of the world.
• The farming systems research and extension
approach has since been adopted at policy level
by most countries in the region.
• Its implementation has been adapted to suit
different structures and circumstances in the
• The efforts of the association has been to build a
community of practice that allows advancement
of the emerging approaches and also for the
sharing of the same.
• The FSR-E approach is ideal for dealing with the multi-
faceted and interlinked problems and challenges that
face smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa.
• Many researchers in the region have benefited from
training in FSR-E which helped to improve the skills and
raise the profile of the approach in the region.
• The region now has expertise and human capital that
could benefit other regions. The existence of the
network was key to this achievement.