Farmer- Trainer Extension Approach in Agroforestry: An Application of Cost Benefit Analysis in Selected Project Sites in Kenya
Agroforestry can improve productivity in many ways. This includes increased output of tree products, improved yields of associated crops, reduction of cropping systems input and increased labour efficiency. Though ready access to appropriate technology can better the lives of the resource poor farmer, the adoption rates of recommended technologies has not been as high as would be expected. The challenge therefore has been to look for extension alternatives that embrace a defined methodology for participatory learning, and mobilize local creativity, energy, knowledge and experience in the search for context-specific solutions, which capitalize on diversity. The Farmer-trainer extension approach is based on group training of identified farmers who have the scope and skills to become trainers of other farmers on agroforestry techniques. Their existing skills are improved through on-the-job farmer and extension staff joint training workshops. The farmer-trainers are then encouraged to train their neighbour fanners the skills acquired and hence make them farmer-followers through adopting recommended technologies and also taking up training of other farmers. It is envisaged that this would create a multiplier effect improving and expanding the practice of agroforestry innovations thereby improving the adoption rates. The overall objective of this study is to establish the viability of the Farmer-trainer extension approach in terms of influencing adoption of agroforestry innovations, and more specifically the adoption of high value trees and the impact, if any this has had on the farmers. This would be achieved through determination of the usage of the taught agroforestry innovation; the economic returns of the innovation and a comparison with other on-farm enterprises; an assessment of the cost of training one farmer to the level of being a farmer-trainer; determination of factors affecting the performance of farmer-trainers; the average conversion of fanner-followers by farmer-trainers; farmers assessment of the approach; calculation of the cost benefit ratio and Net Present Value of the farmer-trainer approach; and exploration of the policy implication of the study. A multistage purposive sampling procedure with stratified random selection was used to select farmers for the survey in the study areas. In the study, primary and secondary data were collected where primary data consisted mainly of Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA), group discussions and interviews, observations and empirical field measurements. Four sites were selected for the study and these were Embu, Kisumu, Migori and Keiyo districts. The results thus attained show that the Fanner-trainer extension approach is a viable concept of dissemination and results are generated within a Sh0l1 time. The study shows Embu district has the highest establishment of improved mangoes. This was the crop used for economic evaluation given that it was adopted in all the study sites. In the economic evaluation the study showed a positive retum to investment of nine years given a discount rate of 18%. The study also illustrates factors that influence the performance of the farmers in the approach, whereby availability of a tree nursery, location of the study sites, gender, and farm size, were found to be of great significance to the performance of the farmer-trainer. ln comparison to other farm enterprises, the study shows an increasing role of tree crops within the farming system. The study also explores policy implications of the farmer-trainer approach especially in research, extension, marketing and credit provision.