From Piloting to Scaling Up PR&D:
Enabling Nepal Farmers to Grow a
Healthy Potato Crop
Participatory research and development (PR&D) often begins with a pilot activity that involves a small number of participants within a limited geographic area. No matter how successful, these pilot activities inevitably face the challenge of scaling up successful PR&D experiences beyond the pioneering farmer groups and farming communities.
This paper describes a PR&D experience in Nepal which involved: a) a pilot project in two hill communities for collectively managing a potato disease; and b) a subsequent scaling-up phase for enabling farmers – across diverse agroecological and socio-economic environments in the country – to grow a healthy potato crop. In moving from piloting to scaling up, this case project highlights key PR&D challenges—in responding to expanding needs and problems, introducing relevant agricultural innovations, adapting participatory methods to facilitate learning and action, and in setting up an enabling institutional and policy environment.
Potato plays an important role in the livelihood and food security of farming communities in Nepal, a country considered one of the world’s most underdeveloped. As the fourth most important food crop in the country, potato cultivation extends from the southern plains to the remote northern mountains. Per capita consumption of potato in Nepal is one of the highest in southwest Asia. It is the most important staple food especially in the mid- and high-hill areas.