Participatory farm management methods for analysis, decision making and communication

Participatory farm management methods for analysis, decision making and communication

Participatory farming management methods and their uses

Central to the use of Participatory Farming Management (PFM) methods is the understanding that the farmer is the decision maker and that he or she takes the risks associated with change, not the advisor or researcher. PFM methods should be seen as useful tools to assist the farmer in his or her decision-making process rather than techniques to persuade farmers to adopt particular practices or to elicit information.

The PFM methods outlined in this document were developed by working closely with small-scale farmers in developing countries and have been successfully used in many countries for a range of purposes in research, extension and development.

The document describes each of the following methods: participatory budgets, scored causal diagrams, resource allocation maps and resource flow diagrams. Uses for these methods include: 

  • participatory extension and development, for example, introducing new practices and considering how they compare to existing practices 
  • needs assessment, identifying and understanding problems farmers face 
  • assessing the suitability of potential interventions, for example, establishing how appropriate interventions are for different farmers and systems and how they can be adapted from on-farm research or demonstrations
  • conducting on-farm participatory research 
  • adoption studies, for example, clarifying why farmers have or have not adopted practices and what impact they’ve had 
  •  studying farmers’ practices and systems

Finally, the document considers the application of participatory methods for larger scale studies and statistically based data analysis and presents examples of scaling-up analysis.

[adapted from the authors]

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