Mother-Baby Trial Approach for
Developing Soil, Water and
Smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa face a severe soil fertility crisis. Surveys in Kenya, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe consistently show high amount of soil nutrient deficiencies, caused by continuous cereal cultivation with limited use of fertility inputs. Fertilizer use is very low, particularly in semi-arid areas. Researchers have hypothesized that currently-available technologies are a poor fit with farmers’ resource endowments, investment priorities and risk preferences. In such case, it is believed that Farmer Participatory Research (FPR) is needed to develop technologies that are better suited to smallholder conditions, and hence more easily adopted.
Many researchers now argue that virtually
all research should involve farmer
participation (Ashby et al., 1987;
Chambers et al., 1989; Hagman et al.,
1998). But despite the proliferation of FPR
research and methodological tools, there
has been little analysis on what kind of
participatory research leads to what
outcomes and why some methods are more
successful than others. Alternatively, if
certain outcomes are desirable in a given
situation, what kind of participatory
research should be encouraged?