Farmer and Community Organizations in Agricultural Research and Extension: Functions, Impacts and Questions


"Many efforts have been made to introduce institutional and methodological changes intended to make agricultural research and extension programmes more responsive to the needs of small scale producers. Yet evaluations of these initiatives suggest that in the absence of sustained political and social pressure from and on behalf of small scale producers, agricultural development institutions are unlikely to become more accountable or demand responsive. "The paper concentrates on the role that farmers' organisations can play in exercising this pressure. Drawing on the early findings of a joint ISNAR/ODI research programme, the paper examines the conditions under which strong farmers' organisations can emerge. These conditions derive from both the external and the internal environment of these organisations. The paper then presents an analytical and methodological framework that can be used when examining the strength of farmers' organisations and the potential for effective links between them and research institutions. "The paper identifies different types of farmer organisations and the roles they play in research priority setting and planning, technology development, processing and input supply in relation to public sector and non-governmental organisations. It reviews the main strengths and weaknesses of farmers' organisations in performing these roles. These qualities are related to determining factors in the social, political and economic context and in the organisational and managerial structure of the organisations. This analysis provides a framework of issues that need to be addressed in any effort to work with and support these organisations as more effective means of pressuring, and working as partners with agricultural research institutions. In addition, a review of the experience and evolution of farmers' organisations in today's industrialised countries, and of organisations of large farmers in developing countries, will identify issues that need to be addressed in any effort to understand the nature and potentials of small farmer organisations."



agricultural development--policy, farmers' associations, technology, agriculture--research