The farmer trainers approach in technology dissemination in Uganda: Farmer trainers? and trainees? perspectives uri icon

abstract

  • This working paper presents the results of the first phase of a study that aims to determine the effectiveness of the farmer trainers approach in the dissemination of feed technologies in the East Africa Dairy Development Project (EADD). The starting point of this study is in the recognition that public sector extension services are no longer able to provide small scale farmers with adequate extension services. As a result, new approaches and mechanisms are being developed to fill the gap. One such approach that is being used by the EADD project is the volunteer farmer trainers approach. It is a form of farmer-to farmer extension where farmers host demonstration plots and take centre stage in information sharing. Although this approach has been in use in the EADD project since its inception in 2008, not much is understood about its effectiveness. A study was therefore initiated to assess its effectiveness. The study was organised into three phases. The first phase, which is the subject of this report, is an exploratory informal survey to collect qualitative data from both the trainers and trainees to be used in formulating hypothesis for more in depth formal surveys in the next phases. Group discussions were held in three sites of the EADD project in three districts, namely Jinja, Mukono and Mityana to get the perceptions of farmer trainers and trainees on the effectiveness of the approach. Farmer trainers have served an average of 15.6 months and train an average of 5 trainees per month. Most of them undertake their activities by foot and a few use their own bicycles. Farmer trainers use various means of mobilizing farmers for their training sessions. Training sessions are normally held at trading centres, local county halls, demonstration sites and homesteads of trainees and trainers. Farmer trainers are motivated by the desire to gain more knowledge/skills, improve their own livelihoods and those of other farmers in the community and becoming popular among other factors. Some of the costs that farmer trainers incur are: transport, time and bicycle maintenance. Benefits received range from gaining knowledge and skills, popularity, increasing social networks to satisfaction. Challenges faced include transport, lack of training materials and family conflicts involving some farmer trainees and their spouses. Some of the low-cost opportunities for improving the approach include provision of training materials (manila paper, marker pen, sample seeds) and certification of farmer trainers. If resources are available, bicycles would help improve performance. Farmer trainers are an important source of information to farmers. Rating of topics taught by trainers was mixed with some topics being rated highly in terms of relevance, understanding and ease of use while others were rated low. On technology uptake by farmer trainees, the highest uptake was for Napier (Elephant) grass and pasture improvement (50%), followed by calliandra (47%). Other technologies such as silage, hay, lablab, leuceana and setaria had less than 30% uptake

publication date

  • 2011