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Group extension is a way of disseminating
information and technologies on agricultural and rural development
through groups of farmers. It aims to develop local skills and empower
local people to solve their own problems. It is a key part of
participatory extension processes (see the section on Participatory
Government and non-government organizations
have too few staff and resources to provide extension advice to every
farmer individually. Traditional extension approaches are often top-down
and ineffective. Working with groups of farmers allows staff to
interact with larger numbers of farmers at the same time, thus using
scarce resources efficiently. In addition, many activities are best
performed by groups of farmers rather than individuals. Group members
can pool their labour and other resources, divide tasks into manageable
units, learn from one another, and make decisions jointly. The examples
later in this section illustrate this.
uniting and contributing to a common pool, the group members are able to
achieve things they would not be able to do as individuals. Many
sustainable agriculture techniques are labour-intensive; the groups
allow farmers to share labour to make improvements in their farms. They
reduce the burden of work for individual farmers by sharing it among
o Farmers can share farm implements and machinery, planting materials and other resources.
o Every group member receives a tangible benefit (such as a water tank, a cow, or seedlings).
o Groups can help even the poorest people to improve their livelihoods.
Groups provide an opportunity for strengthening friendship and
teamwork, allowing members to share ideas, insights, experiences and
o Groups provide a forum for extensionists and
development agents to introduce ideas and skills that may be relevant to
the farmers' problems and needs.
o Groups may form to do certain
things—often a money-making activity such as poultry-raising,
vegetable-growing and selling crops (see the section on Marketing
produce as a group). These activities can make money for the group as a
whole or for its members. But the groups can also take on other tasks
that do not make money directly, such as compost-making, health
education, or other community-related tasks.
o Groups can seek
funding and advice from NGOs or donor organizations to support their
development work. This type of support is not usually available for
o Groups may become dependent on
outside organizations such as an NGO. The outside organization should be
careful to avoid this: it should strive to empower the group to manage
and finance its own affairs, so it becomes "self-propelled".
Groups may fail because of conflicts among their members. The members
must have similar interests and understandings about the group, and what
it will (and will not) achieve. The benefits should be distributed
fairly, according to the amount of effort each member puts in.
Groups also fail because the members feel they put in more than they get
out. Activities should have a reasonably quick payback: one that
members see as important.
Many of the activities in
the list below are continuous and happen at the same time. The
development worker should help and guide the group members through a
participatory process, rather than forcing them or making decisions for
1. Conduct an initial survey to find out people's attitudes
and priorities, and to gain an understanding of the community and its
environment. Collect information on the local land, soil and climate
types, vegetation and crops, social and economic characteristics. This
survey can use a combination of participatory appraisal techniques,
questionnaires, and a review of existing information collected by
village officials and local authorities. The survey can be conducted by
the local people themselves. See the section on Participatory
agricultural extension for more information.
2. As part of this
process, help the people prioritize their problems and identify possible
solutions and opportunities. If a group of outsiders with different
specializations is involved in the survey, they can call on their own
experience to suggest solutions to the problems identified.
3. Discuss the group approach with members of the community. Discover if they are interested in forming a group.
Identify villagers willing to participate in the group. Group members
should have important features in common: they may farm the same type of
land, grow the same crop, raise the same type of livestock, or get
fuelwood from the same forest. They should be able to attend group
meetings, be interested in the topic, and willing to learn and share
their knowledge with others. The ideal size of a group depends on its
and focus. Groups of about 20-30 people seem to work well for many
topics. It may be possible to base such groups on existing local
organizations, such as a credit co-operative or irrigation association.
Women-only groups provide an opportunity for women to learn, generate
income, and take on responsibilities and leadership within the
5. Help the group to determine what it wants to do: its
aims and activities, plans and responsibilities. This should be a
continuous process: the group should review its plans on a regular basis
as conditions change.
6. Help the group work out its dynamics and
working procedures: how are meetings conducted, how is work organized,
how are activities evaluated? Provide training on subjects such as
facilitation, leadership, management, group dynamics and record-keeping
7. Help the group decide how to run itself. It should
develop a set of rules and bye-laws (see the box below for some of
these). Determining these rules and procedures is a continuous process.
The group should not try to fix them all at once, and should be willing
to review its decisions as conditions change.
8. Help the group decide how to handle money (see the box for some guidelines).
Rules for groups
group must establish a set of working rules. These can be formal or
informal, but they must be clearly understood. There should be benefits
for following the rules, and penalties for breaking them.
o How much labour must each member contribute, and should this be free or paid (in cash or as meals)?
Who should the group officials (chairperson, secretary, treasurer,
etc.) be, and how should they be chosen? How often should the officials
be changed? What is the role of each official?
o What are other
bye-laws and rules: punctuality for meetings, attendance at workdays,
penalties for breaking the rules, etc.
o How much money must each member contribute, and how often?
o How should this money be spent? How should the group purchase equipment and supplies?
o Who controls the money: who makes decisions on spending and allocation, and who looks after the money?
What are the requirements for registering the group with the
authorities? How can the group open a bank account? What are its tax
o How are the accounts kept? Who keeps them, in what
form, and who else is involved in the book-keeping? How easy is it to
understand the records? How transparent are they? What safeguards are
there against corruption?
9. Identify information from outside the
village that the group can use: technical packages from universities,
research institutes or other villages that might be useful to solve the
problems identified in the survey.
10. Help the villagers identify
promising technologies that they wish to test and adapt. Help them
design and implement field tests of these technologies (see the section
on Participatory technology development).
11. Arrange training and
field visits to introduce the new technologies to the group members.
Visits to research sites or other villages are particularly useful to
demonstrate new technologies and how problems can be solved.
12. Assist the group to refine and implement its plans.
Create linkages with government agencies, universities and NGOs so the
group can access services and resources such as seed, fertilizer, credit
and marketing facilities.
14. Evaluate the results with the group
members. Arrange evaluation sessions with all group members, and invite
members from other groups to help disseminate information more widely.
Such sessions are a good opportunity to learn the feelings, needs and
priorities of farmers.
Group extension for tree and coffee seedlings in Ethiopia
in Mareka Gena, in southern Ethiopia, face twin problems of
deforestation and a disease attacking coffee berries. Deforestation
causes severe soil erosion and a lack of fuelwood and building poles,
while the berry disease cuts coffee yields by more than 30%.
helps form local savings-and-credit groups and works with them using
the approach described above. It has found that groups with 20-30
members function better and suffer from fewer internal conflicts than do
village co-operatives. This is because the groups are smaller and more
manageable, and their members have more in common than do the much
larger village-wide co-operatives. The groups can focus on problems they
feel are important, rather than those identified by outsiders. However,
ActionAid found that regular meetings and refresher workshops are
necessary to maintain the groups' skills and enthusiasm.
ActionAid provides the groups with advice on coffee cultivation. One or two
in each group volunteered to establish nurseries to produce coffee
seedlings of varieties resistant to the berry disease. ActionAid trained
them in nursery management, coffee production and forestry activities,
and provided them with subsidized seeds. These "resource farmers" have
established nurseries on their own land and grow seedlings to plant or
to sell to their neighbours. The resource farmers have become effective
extensionists, spreading their new knowledge among their neighbours.
the government's coffee-seedling nurseries, these nurseries are managed
entirely by farmers themselves. They require minimum inputs from
outside, and information that seedlings are available spreads rapidly by
word-of-mouth throughout the area.
In 1996, Ato Alemaye Aydeko, one
of the resource farmers, sold coffee seedlings worth about birr 1200
(US$ 175). In this year, 15 farmers were engaged in raising coffee
seedlings. In 1997, ActionAid began using the same approach to introduce
forest-tree seedlings. In the first year, five groups with a total of
50 farmers began raising forest-tree seedlings. —For more information,
contact Moges Bekele, ActionAid-Ethiopia.
Rainwater harvesting in Kenya
of water is a major problem in Olmoran and Sipili in Laikipia district,
Kenya. With a rainfall of 400-600 mm, these villages suffer from
drought and famine. Dams, ponds and scattered boreholes (averaging 100 m
deep) provide water, but about 20% of the people rely on shallow wells
and springs for their domestic water. To the nearest water source is an
average round trip of 6 km—more in the dry season.
Province of Kenya has tried to alleviate this problem by helping
villagers harvest rainwater and build water-storage tanks. It worked
with villagers (995 families in all) to form 32 groups, ranging in size
from 12 to 50 people each. Each group formed its own bye-laws. The
government provided technical inputs; CPK provided materials to build
the tanks, and community members contributed labour and part of the
costs. The project was overseen by a steering committee consisting of
government representatives, with the district officer as its chairperson
and the CPK regional manager as the committee secretary.
members of each group worked with artisans at one member's house to
build a water tank: either above-ground to store rainwater off the roof,
or underground to collect surface runoff. The host family provided food
for everyone working there. When the work was completed, the group
moved on to another member's house.
Underground tank and pump
The members built a total of 151 lined underground tanks and 90
above-ground tanks, and installed 56 pumps. A total of 20 artisans were
trained through the project. Besides making water more readily available
for household use, the tanks enabled families to start kitchen-gardens,
thereby improving their diets.
Above-ground tank. This can
be used only with a metal roof.
of the tanks were roofed with grass, but this tended to be eaten by
termites.Tanks without a roof were breeding-grounds for mosquitoes, and
were a danger to children and livestock. The project introduced fish to
eat the mosquito larvae.
Gutters to collect water from the roof were
not part of the project. Some families put up poor-quality gutters,
which were not effective in collecting water in a heavy storm. With
hindsight, the project should have put more emphasis on maintaining the
gutters, tanks and pumps, and on training people (especially the women)
how to do this. —For more information, contact Joseph Ndegwa, CPK.
A multi-purpose women's group in Kenya
1988, a group of 25 women in Kiamunyeki village, Nakuru, formed the
Mahoya Women's Group. The Church Province of Kenya trained them in how
to improve their farming methods and increase their production so they
would have a surplus for sale. This training covered topics such as
compost-making, intensive kitchen-gardening, deep soil preparation,
agroforestry, zero-grazing, and poultry production.
decided that its priority was to construct tanks to hold water for
drinking and for watering livestock. CPK guided the women in group
dynamics and help them organize so they could build the tanks. CPK
donated money to buy sand and cement, and the group also saved money and
contributed labour. The members built one tank for each family in turn;
it took about 2 months to save up enough money to build each tank. The
group drew lots to decide whose tank should be built first.
then, the group has also bought a cow fro each members, and is in the
processor buying some land on which to build a shop where it can sell
The members also are engaged in many other activities: they
make compost, keep poultry, plant trees, make their own soap, and invite
specialists to train them in family planning, AIDS prevention and other
health-related topics. —For more information, contact Hilda Mukui, CPK.
Agricultural extension in Zambia
Following the devastating 1991-92 drought, thousands of Zambian
farmers were left with almost no seed to plant. In 1994, after the
forming a partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture in Livingstone
and Kalomo districts, CARE-Zambia began supporting farmers through a
seed-distribution project. The problem was how to have close contact
with a very large number of farmers over a big area, using a small but
highly motivated extension team.
The extension team first assessed
existing local institutions, to learn what type of groups exist and how
they function, and to create an understanding of what CARE hoped to
achieve. This initial fieldwork was very important to avoid duplicating
any structures that were already there.
The next step was to
encourage the formation of small groups of farmers (where none existed)
and get each of these to elect a leader. Several groups within each
village formed a village mangement committee, and elected three
(chairman, secretary and
treasurer), at least one of whom was a woman. Several village committees then formed an area management committee.
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برچسب ها : ترویج وآموزش کشاورزی
area management committee is the main point of contact and training
support from CARE. This structure enables the 8-person CARE extension
team to reach as many as 10,000 individual farmers. The CARE staff visit
each area committee once every two weeks for co-ordination and
extension work. The committee members are responsible for co-ordinating
the activities of the members of their farmer groups, and for passing on
information to them. Because the village and area committee members are
also farmers and the meetings take place in the villages, the CARE team
can meet other farmers and help them seek solutions to local problems.
—For more information, contact Robby Mwiinga, CARE-Zambia.
Community labour-sharing groups in Kenya
many parts of Africa, farmers organize small, voluntary work groups to
allow the members to help each other to accomplish heavy farm tasks such
as ploughing, planting, and harvesting. These groups may also be
organized for other community work, such as building houses, or
preparing food during a wedding or funeral. Some development
organizations try to build on these local institutions to carry out
their agricultural extension work.
The Environmental Action Team, a
Kenyan NGO, is using such an approach in Kitale district. The work
groups are common in many parts of Kenya, and are known by several
names, including saga, ngwatio and m'wthya. In Kitale they are known as
bulala, and are being used by the Environmental Action Team to promote
and share new farming and conservation practices. Using bulala groups is
a form of farmer-to-farmer extension, as farmers learn a particular
innovation and share their knowledge and skills to other farmers.
Farmers are generally enthusiastic to share their skills with other
The Environmental Action Team encourages farmers who are
interested to learn new practices to form a bulala. The ideal number of
members in a bulala is four to six; if there are more than six members,
the rotation scheme is very slow. A bulala is usually formed by a group
of neighbours. The members elect a farmer-instructor, who then helps the
group to decide how they want to work together and what they want to
learn. The farmer-instructor works
With the EAT extension staff. A
bulala may meet twice a week to work on each others' fields, rotating
among the members' farms to ensure that work is equitably distributed.
bulala work days, the farmer-instructor shares insights about a
particular farming practice with the members of the bulala. This takes
place right on the farm, sometimes with an extension workers also there.
Working as a group, the members review and implement the practice. At
the end of the day, the members review and reflect on their activities
and lessons from the day.
There have been problems, of course. Some
members show up late on work days, do not arrive at all, or send their
children in their place. And some members keep their colleagues in the
field long periods. This