Replication data for: The 'model farmer' extension approach revisited: Are expert farmers effective innovators and disseminators? uri icon


  • How farmers can better access knowledge and technology for improving agricultural productivity is a key challenge, particularly given the growing complexity of agriculture and the decline of publicly funded extension systems. Extension programmes often make use of farmer to farmer extension and choose ‘model farmers’, also called ‘master’, ‘lead’ or ‘expert’ farmers, to host demonstrations and train their fellow farmers on improved agricultural practices and innovations. Chosen on the basis of their expertise, model farmers are also assumed to be effective innovators and disseminators, but are they? This study sought to answer this question by examining a sample of 126 adopters of fast-growing leguminous fodder shrubs for feeding dairy cows and goats in Kenya. Criteria were established to rate farmers on their expertise as farmers, disseminators and innovators. Farmers were interviewed, indices were drawn up, and farmers were rated on the three categories. Forty-eight farmers were found to be expert farmers, 46 were expert innovators and 44 were expert disseminators. Forty-eight did not fit into any category. There were no significant differences between disseminators and non-disseminators with respect to age, gender and level of education. Nor were there differences between innovators and non-innovators. These finding are encouraging, as they suggest that there are no important barriers related to these variables preventing farmers from becoming innovators or disseminators. In contrast, expert farmers did tend to be wealthier and have larger land holdings than non-experts. There was some overlap among the expert farmers, innovators and disseminators, with 17 farmers being designated as members of all three categories. A log-linear regression model analysis revealed that farming and dissemination expertise are positively associated, as are innovation and di ssemination expertise. However, farming expertise and innovation expertise are not associated. Moreover, 19 (40%) of 48 expert farmers were not effective disseminators. This finding suggests that extension programmes that choose farmer trainers on the basis of their farming expertise and their dissemination skills will promote dissemination more effectively than those that choose trainers only on the basis of their farming expertise

publication date

  • 2016