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Links between Users, Institutions

Gender and Poverty: the Agriculture Sector Programme Support in Uganda

Catherine Barasa

ASPS PCU-Gender and Poverty Advisor
Entebbe, Uganda
E-mail: [email protected] or [email protected]


At the time of writing Uganda was the only country in Africa with an established Ministry of Gender. The country has an operational National Gender Policy to facilitate the process of mainstreaming gender concerns in the national development process. The policy outlines the strategies to be followed and the institutional framework. It is concluded that poverty eradication and gender equity can only be achieved through recognition of the fact that the two are complementary.

Key words: Gender, Uganda, policy, agriculture.


Uganda was in the past referred to as the “pearl of Africa” because of its favorable climate, rich vegetation and abundant agricultural production in most parts of the country.

During the first decade after independence in 1962, the economy grew and Uganda had its golden age. Most smallholder families could feed themselves and earn income mainly through sale of coffee, cotton, or tobacco among others.

In 1971 Idi Amin took over power and for the next 15 years, Uganda suffered civil war, political instability and economic decline. Some parts of the country suffered more than others, resulting in greater numbers of widows, orphans and displaced people in these areas. By 1986, when the National Resistance Movement (NRM) came into power the country was in ruins.

Uganda, with a population of about 16.7 million of which 51% are women, is now characterized by the World Bank as one of the poorest countries in the world (World Bank 1995), with per capita income of US $220. Uganda has very low educational and health indicators, a continuing legacy of the destruction of social infrastructure during the years of political turmoil. In-spite of the lost decade, Uganda is now back on its feet with a political climate favourable to development and poverty eradication high on the agenda. A lot of progress too has and continues to be realized in efforts towards gender equity in all aspects of development.

Gender oriented policy development

Uganda has made steady progress on gender oriented policy development. It is one of the few countries that have an established Ministry of Gender within the government system.

The country has now an operational National Gender Policy whose overall goal is to facilitate the process of mainstreaming gender concerns in the national development process. The policy outlines the strategies to be followed and the institutional framework including the roles and responsibilities of all sectoral ministries, district authorities, NGOs and other stakeholders in development. Subsequently the rest of the ministries have reviewed their own policies taking into account gender responsiveness, reformulating policies where necessary and making commitments to take actions. One outcome of gender oriented policy development has been identification of the need for gender skills training for staff at different levels of the government hierarchy. One important source of gender focused research and training is the MA Programme of the Women Studies Department at Makerere University started in 1991.

Another need identified in policy development work is for better statistics: sex disaggregated statistics to show the differences between women and men in particular sectors, highlighting areas of serious gender inequality. As a result of a long process of advocacy, skills development for production of disaggregated statistics, the Ministry of Gender in collaboration with the Central Statistics Office has produced a hand book on Facts and Figures of women and men in Uganda and it is being used among others as an important planning and monitoring data source. It is worth mentioning also that state support for gender equality is entrenched in Uganda's new Constitution (1995) where the Ministry of Gender summarised women's recommendations and presented them to the Constitutional Commission. Women recommended that the constitution should prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender and that their economic rights as independent persons, including the right to a fair inheritance at husband's death, be protected. These recommendations were incorporated in the final draft that was debated and adopted. The result now is a gender sensitive Constitution, probably the first of it's kind in Africa. Finally Uganda is one of the countries implementing the Affirmative action strategy for women particularly in politics and education. The strategy has equally been adopted in the implementation of most development programmes at all levels.

There is therefore a conducive political will and framework for mainstreaming gender into development.

Poverty eradication

Given Uganda's political and socio-economic history poverty eradication is high on the agenda and has received special attention. The government has a clear Poverty Eradication Action Plan, a document that outlines priorities geared towards poverty eradication within each of the sectors and how these are interrelated. There are at the moment a number of key actors including NGOs and Donors supporting different initiatives within the Poverty Eradication Action Plan. Priority however is in the sectors of Education, Health, Infrastructure development and improving household incomes through Modernization of Agriculture. All these programmes are being implemented and monitored in the framework of decentralization that has been fully embraced and operationalised in Uganda.

In Uganda like in many other countries, Poverty is considered by many as lack of income to meet the requirements of daily living. It is a multifaceted concept depicted through disease, illiteracy, malnutrition, and generally poor conditions of living. Poverty is evident in many of the communities through a clear lack of or inadequacy of basic human needs affecting different segments of society much more than others. It relates to standards of health, nutrition, education, and social participation. Individuals and communities living under poor conditions desire freedom from starvation, hunger and undernourishment, little or no participation in communal life, inadequate shelter and clothing, and inability to access social services both physically and economically. The poverty profiles within the country depict variations in degrees of vulnerability in the different districts due to variations in the following:

At the household level poverty is caused by among others:

Based on very rough calculations,

Gender and poverty issues in the agricultural sector in Uganda

Agriculture is the backbone of Uganda's economy involving 2.5 million farm families, accounting for approximately half of the country's GDP and nearly all export revenues. Eighty nine percent of the population in Uganda live in the rural areas and derive a livelihood from farming. Three quarters of the agricultural labour force are women and children. Therefore sustained growth in agriculture involves addressing gender conditions, which are of central importance for all aspects of development and in particular poverty reduction.

There are marked and persistent gender inequalities in agriculture. Women and children (girls) provide almost all the labour for food crop production, much of which is retained for household consumption. Women also provide an estimated 60 percent of the labour for cash crops such as coffee, cotton and cereals. Inspite of their high contribution, women hardly control income from agricultural production, including that of the surplus sales in food crops where their labour input is highest. Nor do the majority of them have a say in how income, which is controlled by men, is used.

Women have access to agricultural land through their husbands or male relatives. When widowed or divorced they lose this access and may have to return to their father's land where they may not be welcome by their brothers and sisters in law. There is an ongoing debate in parliament at the moment addressing women's inheritance rights under the Domestic Relations Bill. Women's experience with credit is limited given that they do not own land, as collateral required by banks. The few lending programmes that have tried to target women have shown that such factors as unfamiliarity with banks or distance from home to bank makes agricultural credit less attractive to women. (Musoke and Amajo, 1989). Other constraints for women in agriculture include inadequate extension contact, lack of appropriate technologies, low participation in marketing, limited access to information and training. However the Ministry of Agriculture has a sectoral Gender Policy that defines strategies for overcoming such constraints and is now being adhered to in designing and implementing programmes in the sector.

Women do not constitute a homogeneous group and it is necessary in development planning to consider the various categories. Like in many parts of the world women constitute the majority of the poorest of the poor in Uganda. But as Naila Kabeer (1998) puts it “not all the poor are women and not all women are poor”. It is reported that 30% of the households in Uganda are headed by women and that these are generally poorer and more vulnerable to hunger and disease among others than most male headed households. Unfortunately such households are on the increase because of civil strife and HIV/AIDS. Analysis of poverty has been done at household level and it is reported that households headed by women have even more limited access to productive resources and information further impairing their participation and benefit from development activities. However it is important to mention that there are a few male headed households too that fall within this criteria. Such households need to be targeted specially under the programme.

The Agricultural Sector Programme Support (ASPS)

The ASPS is a Ugandan agricultural development programme in its inception phase supported by Danida. The programme has been in operation for only the last 6 months mainly refining implementation strategies through planning and consultations with the stakeholders. The programme is giving support to the Agricultural Modernization process launched by the Govt of Uganda. The main focus being poverty reduction and household food security through increasing production in the rural areas.

The initial funding of the programme is $50 million to cover a period of 5 years. It is however envisaged that this support will be extended for a longer period of about 20 years after the pilot phase. Initially 6 districts will be targeted. The ASPS is targeting the agricultural sector in a broad and flexible way through six major components coordinated by the Ministry of Agriculture but implemented in a multi-sectoral way as follows:

The gender and poverty strategy of the ASPS

The ASPS has a relatively well defined gender and poverty strategy that recommends ways in which these important concerns will be integrated into all the relevant outputs/activities of the programme at all levels. It seeks to operationalise the Ministry's Gender Policy that has for a long time been redundant due to unavailability of sufficient resources.

This will be done using among others participatory techniques, such as PRA at the district and sub county level.

An example of some gender issues in the Livestock Systems Research Programme

Problems, needs and priorities of women and men by social group

Labour inputs by men and women

Uses of livestock and livestock products

Rights in and ownership of livestock

Extension service


Monitoring and evaluation

The programme is in the process of designing actions to address such issues.


The promotion of a process of gender mainstreaming in development programmes is of paramount importance. Poverty eradication and gender equity can only be achieved through recognition of the fact that the two are complementary. Moreover there should be collective responsibility for men and women implementing programmes to ensure that these critical aspects are properly articulated and operationalized.


Kabeer, N. (1994). Development of Gender Aware participatory planning tools and methods.

Keller, Bonnie (1996). Uganda Country Gender Profile.

Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (1993). Gender Oriented Policy Document.

Ministry of Gender Labor and Community Development (1998). Women and men in Uganda Facts and figures.

Ministry of Gender Labor and Community Development (1997). The National Gender Policy.

Musoke and Amajo (1989). Women's Participation in the Existing Credit Schemes in Uganda: a Research Report.

Linkages between Participatory Rural Analysis (PRA) and Technological Interventions

Karlyn Eckman

University of Minnesota
Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA
E-mail: [email protected]


It is argued that the technical and economic aspects of a project are the easy aspects! In comparison, the human dimensions in developing countries are almost always more complex than the technical issues, and will usually make or break a project. If a project is designed and justified using only conventional economic or technical criteria, without consulting local people, there is a very good chance that the project will fail, and that the investment will be wasted. In contrast, projects that are planned and carried out directly by local people themselves (in collaboration with outside facilitators) have a very good chance of success. It is concluded, there is no universal prescription for ensuring that any development initiative will succeed. Using a participatory approach will not guarantee that a project's impacts will be positive and sustainable. However, participatory approaches bring a level of imagination, creativity, depth of understanding of rural issues, a sense of ownership, and levels of success that are almost impossible with conventional logical framework approaches. The problems of the rural poor, in the final instance, cannot be solved by anyone but themselves, and all solidarity efforts must be aimed at strengthening their own capacity for independent action (Seth, in Burkey 1993).

Key words: PRA, technology, linkages, participation, logical framework, gender


This paper outlines some general principles of participatory approaches to development, in natural resource and agricultural projects in developing countries. It supplements the materials presented by the author in a workshop session, in which a specific case study was presented (FAO project TCP/IND/4451(A) Development of Small Scale Livestock Activities-Sikkim).

1. The author welcomes comments on this paper. Send comments to: Karlyn Eckman, 973 Raymond Avenue, Saint Paul, Minnesota USA 55114–1107. Telephone: (01) 651 649 1606. FAX: (01) 651 649 1616. Email: [email protected]

As this paper is limited to ten pages, the reader is referred to the document Harvesting Best Practices: Sikkim Case Study(Eckman, December 1997), for specific details about the successful poultry and goat-breeding activities of this small project.

During the present workshop, it has become apparent that there is significant interest among workshop participants in participatory and gender-sensitive approaches. However, not many of the participants have been directly involved in a participatory rural assessment (PRA), and even fewer have first-hand experience working with gender analysis. Therefore, this paper seeks to outline some general principles, provide information about resources on participatory and gender-sensitive methods, and offers some recommendations when considering a participatory or a more conventional logical framework approach to development planning.

What are participatory approaches?

Participatory approaches are not new. In fact, they stem from innovative and controversial work done many decades ago by Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. B. Ambedkar in India, Anisur Rahman in Bangladesh and elsewhere, Mahatma Gandhi in the Republic of South Africa, Paolo Freiere in Latin America, and the Reverend (Dr.) Martin Luther King in the United States. The terms “local participation” and “participatory development” are widely used today, although they mean different things to different people. Some donors and agencies apply these terms to top-down programs where “targeted beneficiaries” perform manual labor in exchange for a food ration or cash, when in fact there has been little input by those people into the planning and management of the program. To others, local participation is a decentralized, bottom-up, grassroots process of political empowerment and economic transformation.

Burke (1993) asserts that you cannot make people self-reliant, but that people become self-reliant through interacting social and economic relationships. Sustainable development and self-reliance at the local level require that rural people function effectively as social groups, are capable of forming and managing their own organizations for the purpose of economic action, and have the knowledge, information, resources and motivation to take action (Gregersen et al. 1994). The purpose of many participatory approaches is to help rural people achieve these levels of capability. Participatory approaches to development, then, are those that emphasize local problem-solving, local organization, and result in development activities that are determined and managed by local people. It is development from within, conceived and initiated by local people, rather than a plan or model or program imposed from outside of the group or community by external actors (Eckman 1994).

Why use participatory approaches?

Participatory approaches are used for several reasons. The first, and most compelling, is an ethical one: local people are understood to be fully capable of guiding their own development process, without an outside expert doing it for them, on their behalf, and even without their knowledge and consent. In this sense, there is an element of democracy and self-determination that may be threatening to some. However, it should not be implied that outside assistance is undesirable or unwelcome. There have been countless genuine partnerships between outside agents and local villages that have led to sustained impacts through participatory, although facilitated approaches.

In a participatory approach, generally a trained and experienced facilitator or interdisciplinary team will spend considerable time in a single village to understand problems, constraints, potentials, and resource use. In addition, underlying socioeconomic aspects are also explored, such as land or water tenure and rights of access, farming systems, the sexual division of labor, and local power and control relationships. Usually constraints and problems as defined by local people them-selves are ranked, using one of several PRA ranking techniques. Then, the problem is discussed, options are weighed, and the villagers determine by consensus how to address the problem (an external facilitator or team member often facilitates this process).

Together, the group determines what ought to be done about the problem, and how it should be done. A plan of action is agreed upon, and an agreement reached about who will do what. A project framework or document and a budget are then prepared, discussed with government and donor representatives, and authorized. Often local people will simply begin the agreed-upon activities, without a conventional “project” framework or project document. One example comes from Somalia, where a small group of refugees moved from Ali Matan refugee camp to an island in the Juba River. On the island they set up a successful small farm operation, selling bananas, watermelons, poultry and eggs, and other fruits and vegetables to refugees in the refugee camp. They declined offers of assistance from NGOs and government staff, preferring not to submit to a conventional “project” structure.

A second important reason for using participatory approaches is that they are successful! They can lead to many benefits for a wide range of rural people. There are probably countless examples of successful participatory projects and activities around the world. One example, the FAO project Development of Small-Scale Livestock Activities-Sikkim (FAO TCP/IND/4451 - A), has been presented by the author in this workshop. This very modest project was initiated by a comprehensive PRA, and project activities determined and shaped by locally expressed interests and needs. There were very many unexpected successes and accomplishments that resulted.

There are a wide range of methods and tools used in participatory development. A newcomer to participatory development will wonder which tools and techniques he or she should use. Fortunately, there are some handbooks that can provide guidance about how to organize a PRA, how to carry out research activities, and how to facilitate and build consensus. One of the most useful is the PAME approach developed in FAO community forestry projects, and described in FAO 1989 and 1990 (see box below).

One common method for organizing participatory activities is found in India, where an NGO identifies a large number of destitute people with similar socio-economic characteristics (occupation, caste, landlessness etc.). A “camp” is set up and people invited to stay for about a week. While staying in the camp, trained facilitators urge the participants to analyze their constraints and the roots of their poverty, and to imagine ways to overcome those constraints. An agreement is reached by the participants about which ideas have the best potential, and the NGO then organizes, trains, and supports the groups as they set up their new ventures. Participants are encouraged to begin saving small amounts, and matching funds are occasionally provided to build confidence and motivation. One example from India comes from the Self-Employed Women's Association, or SEWA, which has supported a wide variety of successful development activities initiated by disadvantaged women.

Another common method for organizing a participatory project is through a participatory rural assessment (PRA). Generally, an interdisciplinary team of experienced development practitioners works over a period of weeks or months with a local group or community to assess fundamental problems of poverty, inequality, resource problems, or other issues of importance to local people. Participatory rural assessment methods rely on a wide range of tools and techniques, such as participatory mapping exercises, Venn diagrams, seasonal calendars that can show the sexual division of labor, and very extensive interviews with individuals and groups.

Some practical handbooks on PRA

Participatory approaches and logical frameworks2

Logical frameworks (often called “logframes”) are used by development organizations to plan a program or project and organize a specific intervention, to allocate agency resources, and for financial accounting purposes. Logical frameworks are fundamentally based upon systems engineering models and established accounting practices. They are generally a standard operating format applied to every project in an organization's portfolio, and exist to serve the agency's information and accounting needs. Many agencies use them to track inputs and outputs by project. The logical framework provides a standardized, conventional structure around which to organize resources, especially where accountability is important for administrative purposes. Logframes also keep track of expected project outputs as defined by the project document. FAO, UNDP, Norad, GTZ, USAID and other agencies have developed different types of logical frameworks.

In contrast to participatory approaches, the parameters of a logframe project are often already set out before a team is fielded to the village. Although staff may seek some limited village input, the project's goals and objectives have already been determined by development experts or by government authorities. These normally conform to the national development plan, the agency's mandate, a budgetary commitment by an external donor, or some emerging problem that has been identified by an expert.

However, logical frameworks have several problems. Logframe monitoring and evaluation procedures are set up to track outputs and not necessarily outcomes, so many unanticipated impacts go undetected. Most logframe projects look for change only in a positive direction, and identify outputs that can be easily quantified (for example, 50 farmers trained, or 1,000 chicks distributed). Negative externalities, or unanticipated negative outcomes, usually go undetected. In addition, the lack of flexibility or ability to adapt to changing circumstances is a major problem in projects planned by logical framework methods.

2. Material in this section is drawn from Doing Village Assessments (1996) and Avoiding Unsustainability in Natural Resources Projects in Developing Countries: The Precautionary Monitoring Approach (1994) by Karlyn Eckman.

An assessment that focuses on the information needs of the donor, and that is driven by external pressures, is likely to overrun or co-opt local needs and customs. Such projects are commonly planned and managed by outside experts in a distant city, who may have little knowledge or understanding of the needs, constraints and priorities of the “beneficiaries.” As one village chief noted:

“They never come to ask our opinions, or suggest something that we can do for ourselves. They just come along and ask us to arrange a meeting. They have already decided everything among themselves and they simply invite us to take part in this or that scheme. We no longer take decisions about anything. The person here is their local agent and he often has to go back on what he has said because people higher up change their minds. But when we ask them for help with something that we have thought up, they are too busy or it's not the right time or they tell us to put in an application and nothing ever comes of it” (LeCompte 1986:24).

A quote from an official in Dominica helps to illustrate the potential for harm stemming from externally planned development projects:

“They carry out their projects and leave us with their problems!” (In LeCompte 1986).

With logframe projects, it is generally assumed that planning, finance and management are controlled by outsiders, although local people may be invited to attend meetings, training sessions, or to carry out specific tasks. With participatory methods, it is assumed that problem-diagnosis, decision-making, consensus-building, and management activities are decentralized to the local community or group, and that local people have primary responsibility for their own development activity. Again, trained facilitators or sensitized government staff (such as a community development worker or extension agent) may be closely involved in this process.

The Sikkim project provides an interesting example. The initial project outline developed by the Government called for a goat-breeding program to greatly increase the size of the goatherd in Sikkim. However, the PRA documented very significant problems with deforestation and land degradation associated with unfettered goat grazing. In addition, the PRA clearly showed that villagers had much different priorities and strongly expressed needs. The Sikkim project was then reoriented and significantly changed to address those needs, based upon a consensus reached by all parties (see Sikkim case study for additional details).

Most development organizations rely mostly on either participatory approaches or logical frameworks. Some organizations attempt to merge the two, and in so doing encounter both philosophical and practical difficulties. In practice, it is very difficult to integrate strongly participatory approaches into a standardized logical framework, for many reasons. Project administrators and villagers have different time horizons, information needs, decision-making practices, and resource streams. Each has their particular perception of the nature of the problem that is to be addressed by the project, and how it should be resolved. More fundamentally, issues of control and project ownership can divide the parties.

Where organizations attempt to use participatory methods within a logframe structure, the result is often frustration on the part of field staff and villagers due to bureaucratic rigidity and a sense of loss of control, and widely different expectations about what is to be accomplished and who will make decisions. If something goes wrong, logframe projects must await a midterm review by outsiders to make decisions about budgets, changes in objectives, or timetables. Planners can unintentionally overlook traditional values and customary practices. Local initiative is stifled, and people become disillusioned, frustrated and sometimes angry. There are many examples: “community” woodlots torched by frustrated villagers in Tanzania, tree seedlings planted upside-down by “participants” in a food-for-work scheme in Ethiopia, and angry husbands in Lesotho who nearly killed a male extension worker who promoted a weaning food to breastfeeding mothers in a logframe project designed by planners in New York.

Larger-scale projects that use financial criteria (such as an internal rate of return) to justify and to plan a project face even bigger difficulties. The socio-economic dimensions at the village level are often overlooked, or else “tweaked” to arrive at a positive financial indicator that the project will be profitable. Local people are expected to “participate” by adopting a new technological package, or by performing manual labor. However, several analyses of such projects have revealed high failure rates (LeCompte 1986; Tiffin 1996; Doolette and McGrath 1990; Eckman 1996).

For these and other reasons, participatory and logframe approaches are viewed as fundamentally incompatible.

Understanding gender

The term “gender” has been used almost as a substitute for “women,” and more generally as a code word for what used to be called “women in development.” The terms “gender” and “woman” are emphatically not the same thing.

In any household anywhere in the world, males and females have different roles to play. We know that everyone in a rural household works hard, but that men and women work at different activities. In some cultures, men's work and women's work are very different, and their work is not substitutable. For example, in Ethiopia women almost never do oxen plowing. However, in Somalia, land preparation is mostly women's work, while men tend to camels and cattle. In other cultures, men and women share much of the workload, and they easily substitute for each other on the same tasks. For example, Burmese men and women interchangeably work on almost all agricultural activities. The activities that are commonly thought of as men's work or women's work are determined by tradition, custom, religion, practicality, or even one's stage in the life cycle. Ownership and rights of access to water, land, trees and other resources are also determined by gender in most developing countries.

Gender roles or the sexual division of labor, can easily change from one location to another, and vary by caste, ethnic group or religion. In the Sikkim project, the high-caste Indian national gender consultant wrongly assumed that women in Sikkim (a Himalayan region with mixed Buddhist, Christian and Hindu cultures) had exactly the same work patterns as found in Gujarat. In fact, labor patterns can change even across households in the same village. One should never assume that a labor pattern is uniform and unchanging, especially where people in the area come from mixed backgrounds.

Several methods collectively called gender analysis have been developed by some development agencies, including the World Bank, United Nations Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). For example, FAO's Socioeconomic and Gender Analysis (SEGA) method is now well known. In addition, there are many specific tools and techniques that are used to research the economic and productive roles of males and females, and to identify the constraints of each.

By using a PRA tool called a gender-differentiated task calendar (Eckman 1996) we can easily see who does what within a household. We know that in most countries, males assume an increasing number of tasks in their boyhood, and as they enter adulthood. Elderly men also contribute to the household economy, although their tasks may change as they age. Similarly, girls begin to work at an early age, and assume additional responsibilities, as they grow older. Adult women tend to be fully occupied with productive activities until they grow older, and even as elderly women are productive.

Why is this important? If you wish to organize training or extension outreach to a particular group of farmers (such as goat breeders, poultry managers or citrus farmers), you will want to know who those individuals are. In Sikkim, we discovered that old men were responsible for taking goats to the forests to graze, and that young girls were responsible for watering and otherwise caring for goats. The extension officials wrongly assumed that adult males and boys were responsible for goats. Their training sessions were incorrectly targeted, poorly attended, and ultimately their time and efforts were wasted. The extension information had not been given to the proper family members.

We can see, then, that the sexual division of labor differs by gender (male or female) and stage in the life cycle (child, adult, elderly person). Therefore, the term gender fundamentally means who does what within the household production system. It should not be used as a substitute word or code word for women.

Having said this, we also know that subsistence-based backyard poultry rearing tends to be in the domain of women in many developing countries. Women have more limited property rights; educational opportunities and incomes than do men in many parts of the world. However, chickens and other fowl are one of the few resources that are controlled by women around the world, especially in very poor households. In our project experiences in Sikkim, in refugee camps in Somalia, and elsewhere, we have seen that chickens provide constant income and nutritional benefits for the poorest households.

The Sikkim project used a simple crossbreeding activity combined with a strong training component, in isolated low-caste villages. This resulted in a 200% increase in household income within one year. Many other institutional and other benefits were realized from this project (see the Sikkim Case Study for details). The Government of Sikkim has requested that FAO continues and expands the project throughout all of Sikkim. Unfortunately, no funds have yet been identified to enable this modest, but highly successful participatory model, to be continued.

Technology and participatory development

Often a project initiative is driven by the development of a new technology, which is to be promoted and disseminated. The impetus comes from outside of the village, rather than from within. In an ideal world, technological innovations should be developed in tandem with farmers, although shortages of money, people, and travel problems commonly prevent this. Participatory on-farm research is a very important low-cost research and development tool that can benefit farmers and extensionists alike. It enables researchers, extensionists and farmers to test and to iron out problems before they are disseminated widely.

In Sikkim, zero-grazing and stall-feeding was introduced to combat understory deforestation by goats. Participatory on-farm research on goat fodder was decided upon by consensus. As this had not been done before in Sikkim, a fodder consultant was recruited to set up participatory on-farm research in farmers' fields that had volunteered to experiment in such activities. A high-caste Indian national fodder consultant from Punjab arrived in Sikkim, who set up unlabelled, randomized control plots at the low altitude agricultural experiment station. These plots were under ideal conditions (irrigated, fertilized, pest controlled) that could never be replicated on a typical Sikkimese smallholding. Furthermore, the consultant refused to meet with small farmers, or learn about their farming systems. Ultimately, nothing was learned from the randomized control plots that could be applied in the project.

However, with help from the local Goat Development Officer, a few volunteer farmers began to experiment with field fodder (grasses and bamboo) and tree fodder (mulberry and other species) to determine how such a diet would affect the health and productivity of stall-fed goats. Participatory on-farm research is a lowcost and very effective tool that can aid in agricultural and natural resource research.

Adopting a new technology is risky business for a poor rural farmer. From the farmer's perspective, that new technology should not bring unexpected problems for him or her to deal with. Therefore, a project should never be planned using technical criteria alone, or attempt to disseminate and untested technology.

Finally, a word about replication. Replication of projects and technological innovations is desirable to many organizations because it is administratively costeffective, and can bring acclaim to an organization for a past success. Replication works best where there is widespread socioeconomic, religious and cultural homogeneity. However, where socioeconomic and cultural dimensions are complex and diverse, and where conditions vary from one village to another, replication may not be so successful. PRA work in each specific setting may be needed to develop options that best suit each village group. Replication can never be the “magic bullet” in countries and cultures that have multiple ethnic or socioeconomic dimensions. Replication can fail where these conditions exist. In truly participatory development, innovation and initiate is taken by local people, and is never imposed from outside.


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