Friday, 19 March 2010

Promoting farmer voice in the design, implementing and monitoring of projects

12 March 2010. The first ever ALINe Farmer Voice Awards celebrate leading examples of development organisations successfully nurturing and responding to smallholder farmers’ own efforts. They showcase organisations that listen and respond to what farmers say, throughout the course of their activities. 
The awards were judged by a high level panel included Stephen Muchiri, CEO of the East African Farmers Federation, Professor Robert Chambers of the Institute of Development Studies and Alex Jacobs, of ALINe. ALINe will work with the award winners during 2010 to identify good practice in nurturing and responding to smallholder farmers’ own efforts. We will publish case studies and practice notes, and use them to encourage and support similar efforts across the sector.

In Malawi, the Story Workshop also uses a radio programme, Mwana Alirenji, to promote self-reliance and farming techniques identified by local farmers. Listeners are encouraged to try out new approaches and learn for themselves what works, for instance through ‘radio research gardens’. For example, one listener harvested more maize where she had applied manure compared to where she had used chemical fertilizer.

CARE is using ‘community scorecards’ to generate systematic feedback from smallholder farmers on services that CARE provides to them in central Malawi. CARE uses the results like customer feedback, to make continuous improvements – for instance, changing when they distribute seeds and moving training venues to be more accessible for women.

Farm Radio International is working with radio stations in five African countries to help smallholder farmers tackle agricultural questions. Farmers are involved in identifying good practices that work for them, along with expert input. In Mali, a radio campaign led to a four-fold increase in farmers using improved composting methods.

World Vision’s Food Security Program works with smallholder farmers in 14 districts in Zimbabwe, providing assistance like: seeds, fertilizer, livestock and training. World Vision informs farmers about the project and invites them to make comments or complaints about their experiences. Techniques have included: ‘focal point’ farmers, mobile help desks and farmer feedback committees (which are particularly accessible for women).