Improving agricultural research outcomes

March 20, 2014

Course participants in West Sumatra
Course participants in West Sumatra

Why do farmers sometimes ignore the suggestions of agricultural researchers? Why do they choose to stick with conventional species of crops despite new varieties being made available? These questions were the focus of a training course supported by the Crawford Fund in West Sumatra in June 2011.

Twenty nine Indonesian participants from government research institutes and extension agencies took part in the training, which aimed to help them reflect on the social aspects of farming and examine the potential negative as well as positive impacts of their research. They were asked to critically analyse their work in terms of whether they were genuinely engaging farmers and other stakeholders in an ongoing learning process.

Course participants in West Sumatra
Course participants in West Sumatra

The training gave researchers methods to identify who should be involved in projects, how to help farmers solve problems in the field and how toΒ  stimulate farmer-to-farmer learning.

The participants learnt that understanding the varied goals and values held by farming families is a key step in designing relevant research for them. By providing a learning environment where farmers can gain knowledge and skills instead of just giving them one-off handouts, researchers learnt how to change the nature of their relationship with farmers.