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Wageningen Universiteit (2006)

Research on agricultural research : towards a pathway for client-oriented research in West Africa

Nederlof, E.S..

Titre : Research on agricultural research : towards a pathway for client-oriented research in West Africa

Auteur : Nederlof, E.S..

Université de soutenance : Wageningen Universiteit

Grade : PhD thesis 2006

Résumé partiel
The contribution of agricultural research to improving resource-poor farmers’ livelihoods has remained sub-optimal. Explanations for this lack of impact are diverse and many approaches were proposed over time to address them, amongst others : transfer of technology to teach farmers the ’right technologies’ ; designing technological packages (high yielding varieties, fertilisers and pesticides), and facilitating access to input and credit ; adapting to farmers’ conditions through farming systems research and on-farm research ; and participation of farmers in planning and evaluation. All these approaches did however not improve the situation inWest Africaas drastically as was hoped for. In the late 1990’s, therefore, it was recognised that researchers alone cannot grasp the complexity and dynamics of the local situation and the need arose for researchers to join forces with farmers to explore and design viable innovations. The reason for the failure of agricultural research was sought in the methodology used. Alongside numerous approaches such as the facilitation of learning, Participatory Technology Development andFarmerFieldSchoolsemerged.The Convergence of Sciences (CoS) Programme squarely fits within this movement and builds on the achievements of these approaches.These approaches as well as the background of this study are extensively discussed in chapters 1 and 2 of this dissertation. We conducted ametaresearch on the pathway(s) of science thatCoSfollowed. Eight PhD researchers fromGhanaandBeninconducted in their respective countries research on integrated pest management, weed management, soil fertility and crop diversity with resource-poor farmers aimed at improving the livelihoods of the farmers. The PhD researchers used a social and biological science perspective and were supervised by supervisors from both the social and biological disciplines, both from West Africa and theNetherlands. The comparison of the field experiences formed the basis of ourmetaresearch on theCoSprogramme. The details of the methodology and the background of the PhD research programmes are explored in chapter 3. Before studyingCoS, in order to hone our approach and methodology, and to develop our conceptual framework with respect to the pathways for science, we first looked at two completed research programmes inWest Africawhich aimed at joining forces with farmers to explore and design viable innovations.

Mots clés : agricultural research / research / methodology / ghana / benin / west africa / scientific research

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