Notes from the Final Workshop

Reporting back on Output 3 – Enhanced capacity of project partners to experiment with and use fodder innovations through effective communication, technical information and training in diverse aspects placing fodder interventions in the context of systems of innovation

Werner – continuous scaling out – through different persons at different levels. Its a process that moves on.
Ben – training model involves farmer trainers? How did you motivate them?
Khang – incentive – food but apart from this nothing else. The farmers want to learn, and so do the extension staff. They see this as beneficial and invite training and they pay for the trainer’s lunch instead of the other way round.
Bruno – do you monitor the content of the training as it flows down the “chain”?
Tassilo – sure. We try to skip levels and see what is happening on the ground. Correct the information if necessary and go back one level to do this.
Bruno - Sometimes there is adaptation that makes sense.
Tassilo - Sure – sometimes things evolve that we did not foresee.
Alan – question about motivation is very relevant – Ben?
Ben – we train through farmer trainers, mobilise groups and get them to nominate one person who is trained, he is then responsible for training the group and other farmers as a voluntary task (no pay) – they do get eg T shirt, pens etc. Exactly what Bruno raised – the quality of information deteriorates. We just did a survey – farmers say its more difficult to train on livestock technologies than crop. Where farmers are used to disseminate livestock technologies its necessary to be very careful. We are grappling with this! There are some advantages – it reaches many farmers, but the quality is an issue.
Livestock information refers to production issues – animal health, feeding. Some livestock technologies may require certification so not everyone can disseminate these.
Khang – farmers are very responsive, we don’t have to force this.
Michael – high feed costs? How do interventions reduce this?
Asamoah – we are doing economic analysis and have just submitted some abstracts that include this. Its being analysed. Broken faba bean – seems promising – 20-30% reduction in cost. Some carcass market prices are not competitive. Growth rates (lamb fattening through barley grazing) – for triticale pastures were very high.
Triticale and barley – don’t they produce food as well
Farmers with milking animals grow barley in Oct with irrigation so it can be harvested in Feb/March. They also graze barley continuously, some only graze for a while then let it grow back to produce grain. We have to look for those that give good feed in early spring when there is a serious gap. Triticale and oats really for grazing. Although there was some fear oats could become a weed, but it was appreciated for being more leafy.
General discussion
Ranjitha – not much about gender except for Syria component. Also what kind of mechanisms were built in to ensure interventions and capacity building were targeting poor and smallholders and not being captured by better-off?
Alan – we didn’t really have a gender strategy. Equally on equity, this is tricky in Ethiopia, we are bound to some extent by having to work through government structures meaning not all decisions are made by us. We might have thought this through better. In most instances, most meetings were dominated by men.
Kebebe – in Meiso it was different. The women were very active including in training, forage adoption and livestock management. This issue came up in one meeting in Ada’a – indicating that whilst men came to the meetings, it was women who did the activities. Improved forages were helping kids go to school because their labour was not required at home. Women’s incomes were also increased in similar ways. Regarding the smaller/poorer farmers – we worked through government agencies who were the ones who did the selction. We could think about establishing guidelines to help address such issues.
Werner – In Vietnam, we don’t see a big problem with gender but rather get families participating, although for formal meetings is more often men. The real question is if poor farmers can participate. Local governments are strong on this though and its addressed in various ways but with limited success (credit, targeting ethnic minorities etc) – at least never scaled out – its very small numbers. Local government is gaining experiences so hopefully this will go further. “Poor” is not necessarily defined by land size – it might be distance from urban centre, poorer soils, ethnic minority (especially change from 00s of grazing hectares to a couple).
Asamoah – we did not build that in. As we started to implement it came on board because of Aga Khan priorities. From the meetings, women were more interested in milk, fattening – things more semi-intensive that kept them at home as they are limited in ability to move around. We would need to consider this in any new phase. A lot of women were interested but we were limited in our ability to reach out. There is disparity in wealth of households in project sites. Women who are not married for example tend to be very poor.
Bruno – related to equity etc. Even if farmers are imposed – we need to know their wealth status. Technologies often depend on farm assets – labour, land etc. It could be that interventions work only with “richer” people in the community and this would be important to understand. This is a real danger especially during the scaling out phase because that is when other things arise like markets, credit etc where the better off often capitalise – such things may not be such an issue in the research phase. We can only raise awareness of such issues or help monitor.
Seife – variation in focus, style of presentation. Some focused more on technical aspects, training, diagnosis, system development etc. Certain bigger issues need to be addressed, in the context of “capacity development” – no common understanding of what this is. Was there a structured needs assessment before embarking on capacity development? What aspects were focused on with whom etc?
Asamoah – in Syria we had a workshop only to identify capacity needs – this led to a list of needs for different categories, and development of communication material. What was presented came out of this. Farmers thought extension should do it better, which in our case worked well because we were assigned extension agents.
Antonio – would like to understand how much the three CG centres learnt from each other in terms of having this type of approach.
Alan – we drew on theories from FIP and some practice from CIAT in Vietnam. Bringing these together was fruitful in trying to bring practical mechanism that came from FIP.
Werner – CIAT found this useful – we often get too involved in practical implementation. Learning more about theories helped in formulating what we were doing. Including for our partners in Veitnma – exposed to different way of looking at the same issue.
Ranjitha – FIP was very fuzzy and theoretical and could not translate into practice. Benefited from that theory and then putting with FAP to get more practical. Very useful to compare the two and link with the theory.
Ben – with regard to dissemination of technologies.... we know demonstrations is not a new approach, we use it in EADD, but if we were to re-start I would not use demonstration plots. We are struggling to translate these to farmers. Its a real problem. Are there some lessons from eg the Syria approach?
Asamoah – our demo plots were multi purpose –for seed, for straw, to show new technologies. From this angle, knowledgeable team helped to pass on messages, our extension service really helped a lot and worked very well.
Abdullah – the technologies (especially improved seeds) was very important for extension, likewise the training. We learnt a lot about joint learning processes between research, extension, farmers and NGOs. Bringing these stakeholders together was very important and a good experience. De centralisation was also very important. My role as head of extension was only strategic, the real field workers were the ones who did the implementation and interacted directly with farmers.
Bruno – no clear answer about whether demonstration plots are the answer. It depends on what you want to do. FFS have the same set of issues – not much better success in moving beyond these to farmers’ fields. In these participatory processes we need to think about scale as well. Labour, resources etc need to be considered. Livestock is difficult in this respect.
Seife – to what extent did the project really address feed gap in Syria? During my visit, it seemed like this was 100% - some were even able to sell excess material.
Seife – support to dairy in Ada’a?
Alan – no this was facilitated by another project. The fact that there was high quality feed from FAP work influenced this to really take off.
Antonio – how much have the tools for communication been used?
Alan - less so for between country learning, but for sharing with wider community. Most between country learning was more direct.
Antonio – if the project ends does the communication end too? Establishment of communication methods is one of the project outputs
Tassilo – there may still be some on going communication. The systems are very different, no direct natural connects, so may not be a priority.
Ranjitha – for FIP the project ended in March. I have kept in touch with partners because I’d like to be able to work with them again in the future. This is rather a personal initiative.
Bruno – how much do others spontaneously contribute to the blog? Hardly.
Shirley – new CRPs may provide a structure – that will demand some of this communication.
Antonio – this group could be maintained as a value, despite different approaches and interaction styles with different country decision makers etc. The general output has a lot of value and it would be a pity to lose that and the associated synergies. Perhaps in the new CRP this could be more formalised. From a donor perspective its interesting to have a group or interface that is issue focused – its easier to get technical support and knowledge rather than going to a single institute.
Bruno - SLP was created for this
Peter - Its a fine line between structure and allowing free form. Some time ago CoPs were created – when formalised they died! The ones that survived will flourish if there is a real common issue/interest....
Alan - Working out the core element of the CoP is – is it fodder or livestock development or????
Werner – never underestimate the informal contacts.