Disseminating agroforestry innovations in Cameroon: are relay organisations effective?
Ineffective dissemination methods have been partially responsible for low adoption of agricultural innovations in Africa and consequently have failed to improve farmers' livelihoods. Therefore, innovative and low cost ways of disseminating agricultural innovations, especially farmer to farmer dissemination, are now gaining interest. However, there is limited or conflicting evidence as to their effect on productivity and poverty, as well as on financial sustainability. This paper evaluates the performance of relay organisations (community-based organisations that make the bridge between research and farmers) in disseminating agroforestry innovations in Cameroon and identifies factors that affect this performance. Overall, the 8 relay organisations studied were successfully diffusing agroforestry innovations to farmer groups. Though differences were not statistically significant, results suggest that relay organisations which operate under favourable internal and external factors perform best for most of the performance indicators, but this would need confirmation in further studies, possibly involving more relay organisations. Also, the study puts forward that external factors such as existing opportunities for agroforestry, strong farmer associations and good road and communication networks, might affect the effectiveness of relay organisations more than their internal capacity, reflected by their human, material and financial resources. Further research should focus on evaluating the sustainability and financial viability of the approach and look at appropriate support mechanisms to enhance relay organisations' capacities to disseminate agroforestry innovations
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