Understanding local perspectives: participation of resource poor farmers in biotechnology: the case of Wedza District of Zimbabwe

Understanding local perspectives: participation of resource poor farmers in biotechnology: the case of Wedza District of Zimbabwe

What influences poor farmers to participate in biotechnology projects in Zimbabwe?

This background paper from the IDS “Biotechnology and the policy process in developing countries” project examines the perspectives and participation in agricultural biotechnologies projects of resource-poor farmers in the Wedza district of Zimbabwe. Farmers in this region are faced with tremendous farming challenges that are adversely impacting on their livelihoods. Beyond climatic, soil and other direct farming constraints, the farmers' options are severely curtailed by lack of material resources and other socio-economic realities that have resulted in, among other development interventions, agricultural biotechnologies pilot studies and projects.

Factor affecting the varied perceptions and attitudes towards biotechnology project activities and the participation thereof are identified and include:

  • awareness and involvement in local development initiatives
  • management style of the different stakeholders
  • language and resource accessibility of the new technologies
  • the policy/political environment.

The authors note that the problematic challenges of conceptualising and operationalizing the notion of 'participation' is reasonably well demonstrated in this study in that participation is warm, persuasive and attractive concept that is subscribed to by many, although very few, if any at all, ever achieve it. They conclude that without a shared vision and meaning of participation, analytical tools, indicators and practical methods, participation remains an elusive pastime 'occupation' and endearing slogan of many development practitioners.

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