Development Where There
is No Researcher
Participatory Technology Development (PTD) is a creative process of joint experimentation and research by farmers and development agents in discovering ways of improving farmers’ livelihoods. The growing number of documented examples in recent years reveal that PTD is now accepted as a research approach to agriculture and natural resource management (NRM). It has been recognized that research is effective in improving farmers’ livelihoods if farmers play a vital role in the process.
Most documented experiences on PTD refer to farmer participatory research where scientists interact with farmers to test and adapt the scientists’ ideas. Successful technologies are then disseminated through extension. However, these cases are a drop in the ocean of PTD research.
According to Rocheleau in 2003,
“thousands of field workers conduct
isolated, undocumented research in
extension and development programs
on forestry, agriculture and
conservation.” PTD is practiced as an
approach to extension, with
development workers supporting
farmers in learning-by-doing without
There are very few research scientists in proportion to millions of farmers and the immense diversity of agro-ecological environments and situations in which different types of farmers live and work. In fact, local farmers and natural resource user-managers have been carrying out most of the experimentation, discovery and innovation in agriculture and NRM since time immemorial until today.