Farmer Research Networks and legume integration

Lead Organization:

Research Community and Organizational Development Associates

Community of Practice:

East & Southern Africa

Countries:

Kenya

Duration:

11/2016—11/2019

Overview:

In 2014, a scoping study was conducted on Farmer Research Networks in the region. RECODA was identified as a potential partner due to its interest in participatory technology development. Since then, a recent impact study was conducted on a RECODA initiative in northern Tanzania in which they used their Rural Initiatives for Participatory Agricultural Transformation (RIPAT) methodology.  The study showed that child nutrition had been improved through an integrated agricultural intervention.RECODA is currently implementing a one-year CCRP project. In January 2016, the project conducted a baseline survey for the participating farmers in the four villages in Mtinko division in Singida District, Tanzania. The survey showed that production of pigeon pea and lablab is very limited, and there is little to no intercropping. Networking has started among the farmers in groups, and field trials are underway to evaluate intercropping of pigeon pea varieties with maize. As issues arise and are explored, networking will deepen, and additional field trials will be carried out. This research will explore different legume varieties and will assess their performance through the involvement of a Farmer Research Network (FRN). Activities will be done in collaboration with Selian Agricultural Research Institute (SARI), which has bred several varieties of pigeon pea, maize and sorghum and is testing accessions of lablab. The project will examine how local variation in soil type and fertility influences farmer decision-making. The research will also address gaps in understanding on institutional aspects of FRN, such as what motivates farmers to participate; gender dynamics within the FRN; what type of information is given priority by farmers; and how information is communicated within and between farmer groups involved in the FRN. The project will take advantage of the strong demand for pigeon peas and lablab in the region, especially in Kenya. The project will also address the need for diversification and for coping with climate change by using drought-tolerant legumes. Finally, opportunities will be explored for legume integration to intensify and diversify production, and for improving soil fertility through the production of pigeon peas and lablab.The CCRP has engaged with RECODA in an effort to develop a strong FRN project in the region.  The project seeks to improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in Singida District in Tanzania through enhanced food security and increased income, which will strengthen the resilience of households to adversity, including shifts induced by climate change and variability. Activities include working with farmers to research how intercropping maize with multi-purpose legumes (pigeon pea and lablab) can increase productivity, generate additional income, and lead to better diets and more fertile soils. The participatory process will enhance farmer capacity to manage more diversified cropping systems and contribute effectively to research that meets their own particular needs. Through careful sensitization and mobilization of farmers to take charge of their own development, they will have a stronger vision of a more prosperous and sustainable future. The members of the FRN, especially the female members, will develop an increased sense of empowerment that in turn will give them a stronger say over agricultural and hence economic decisions in their families. 

Grant Aims:

The project is expected to lead to the following outcomes:Increased farmer income derived from the intercropping of maize with pigeon peas and lablabDiversified diet of farm families that includes consumption of pigeon peas and other foods bought from cash gained by selling pigeon peas and lablabImproved soil conservation and fertility management for sustainable agricultural productionGreater knowledge sharing, as well as enhanced and amplified methods of sharing within the communityPostharvest handling skills of farmers to reduce postharvest lossesStronger capacity of the FRN to sustain, continue, and upscale agricultural development initiatives through sustainable sourcing of inputs and utilization and marketing of pigeon peas and lablabThese outcomes will be generated through the delivery of several specific outputs:A more diverse range of crops with high market value will be grown. This will contribute to higher income generation. The portion of the harvest retained for home consumption will help to ensure more diversified diets for rural households (Outcomes 1 and 2).Improved knowledge of the properties and fertility status of soils in the target villages will bring about enhanced soil conservation and fertility management.  This will contribute to sustainable increases in production (Outcome 3).The existence of FRNs with capacity to undertake research, combined with knowledge of pathways that are most effective in generating and sharing information, will lead to increased exchange of information and knowledge in the target communities (Outcome 4).Increased capacity of the communities in production, utilization and post-harvest handling knowledge of pigeon peas and lablab will lead to a reduction in post-harvest losses (Outcome 5).The availability of Quality Declared Seeds in the target villages will enable farmers to have access to high quality seed that will facilitate access to markets (Outcome 6).