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May 2003

Announcement of a new publication

Social dimensions of integrated production and pest management - A case study in Mali

The Integrated Pest Management (IPM), sometimes referred to as the Integrated Production and Pest Management (IPPM) approach, aims at helping farmers to take independent, well-informed crop production and management decisions. It achieves this primarily through participatory, season-long, farmer field schools, which help farmers and extensionists working together to better understand what goes on in the fields. Rather than being lectured by outsiders, field schools help farmers uncover and strengthen their own local knowledge.

The central question posed in this study is: what is the social impact of the field schools, and of IPM? There are two main aspects to consider when studying the social impact of IPM.

Hitherto, most attention has focused on the yield increases and reduction in production costs resulting from IPM. This narrower economic perspective, however, has neglected certain other benefits emanating from the approach. For example, both farmers and extensionists indicate that once field schools have started meeting regularly, addressing a wide range of issues, farmersí attitudes and competencies change. This process is complex but real, just as attending a regular school changes a pupilís position in society in complex but tangible ways. The ambition to find out how these processes work exactly was our first motivation to study the social impact of IPM.

The changing macro-context of IPM was a second consideration. Liberalisation, State disengagement, public service reform, and a new sense of urgency about empowerment and good governance, form the macrobackground against which IPM activities are set. The changes at that level affect farmers locally in concrete ways. Extension and local research systems get weaker and smaller, depriving farmers of a source of advice. Adequate information about inputs and prices may become hard to obtain. Market actors emerge and grow strong, with new demands and constraints placed on farmers, on their local organizations, and with implications for the way they produce their crops. Under the given conditions, being an efficient, capable, farmer implies an increasing reliance on knowledge developed and shared locally with other farmers.

Click here to see the publication (html format).

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