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Participatory technology development with resource-poor farmers: maximising impact through the use of recommendation domains

Research reports

Participatory technology development (PTD) has been advocated as a way of increasing the likelihood that technologies developed will be suitable for resource-poor households (RPHs). However, PTD is a resource-intensive approach, and it has also been argued that it is an expensive one, on the grounds that the high degree of heterogeneity among RPHs and their farming systems means that the number of them adopting any particular technology will be small. In this paper, with reference to case studies of three livestock technologies developed using participatory approaches, we make preliminary estimates, through the use of recommendation domains (RDs), of the potential number of beneficiary RPHs. We conclude that in all three cases the RDs could be large, i.e. more than one hundred thousand households. Our more general conclusion is that PTD can be cost-effective provided that various conditions are satisfied. These are: PTD should be based on effective diagnosis and research site selection; ‘product champions’ for the technologies should be supported; RDs should be identified; information about the technology should be availed to key agencies in the RD; and resources should be made available to disseminate the technology to households in the RD.

Czech Conroy and Alistair Sutherland