Gabriele Stoll
Natural Crop Protection in the Tropics
Letting Information Come to Life
Letting information come to life
Farmer-participatory research approaches and methodologies in Natural Crop Protection
The central theme of this book is that information in itself is dead until it is brought alive through use. This became particularly obvious to me during the 6 years I worked in Southeast Asia in both farmer-participatory research and scientific research on plants with insect-controlling properties. This chapter has been included with the intention to contribute to bringing information alive. The cases presented have been selected carefully. They are hopefully inspiring examples of how information and local knowledge can be combined to develop something innovative and substantive in natural crop protection. It has been made clear elsewhere in this book that the technical information presented has to be verified and/or adapted to suit local conditions. This chapter intends to provide suggestions on approaches and methodologies for readers to engage in this.
 Bringing information alive is key but it needs both an enabling environment and a suitable approach and methodology. One of the most important features of this process is the removal of boundaries. The categories of farmer, extensionist, and scientist are losing their sharp edges. The relationships between them, too, are changing. Today we see many crossovers, which are defined anew in each situation and constellation, depending on the objective, the actors and their negotiation with each other. The following cases, using examples of components of farmer participatory research and extension, present individual ways of bringing this information alive in a manner that is locally appropriate.
Meir leads us into this chapter with her analysis and conclusions on "Learning and Changing: Helping Farmers Move to Natural Pest Control". She examines in detail the processes that take place among farmers and their attitudes towards natural crop protection and the factors that determine adaptation and adoption.
Bentley's approach is based on the hypothesis that farmers will be stimulated to innovate useful technology, based on a synthesis of local knowledge and scientific explanations and the identification of gaps in farmer knowledge and the filling of these gaps. His experience derives from working for many years with the ZAMORANO Training Centre in Honduras, where courses on Natural Pest Control have been given with the objective to inform and to trigger innovation.
AME in India, as reported by RAJ & SURESH, attempts to systematically pick up farmer innovations and to verify and fine-tune their effectiveness in a collaborative effort between farmers, local NGOs, the Department of Agriculture and research institutes.
Stoll points out, based on her experience of working for three years in farmer experimentation with insect-controlling plants in Thailand, that introducing external ideas can well contribute to triggering innovations. Once the farmers have understood the principles behind an external idea, they adapt it within the setting of their local knowledge and resource availability.
Page who works on the promotion of organic cotton in Zimbabwe, considers it an exciting venture to bring science to illiterate farmers and sees the real challenge in transforming technical jargon and scientific procedure into a series of simple pictures and experiments which allow farmers to think in a deeper and more holistic way.
Rivera & Retamozo present a Peruvian experience, telling how an NGO designed research jointly with farmers for the control of the potato moth in which farmers took great responsibility for implementation. The resulting interaction between the farmers, the NGO and research institutes was perceived as constructive. However, it was also observed that the available research tools are inappropriate for illiterate farmers.
The contribution of Förster of the German GTZ is a bit different insofar as it describes the development process of setting up a small-scale neem processing facility. This experience from Kenya has been consciously included in order to also encourage this pathway by showing how it can be done, thus moving this under-explored approach to natural crop protection more into the realm of the possible.
Kimani, Mihindo & Williamson report about a research partnership approach from Kenya involving farmers, NGOs and local & international research institutions, about joint experiments and their observation that a lot of potential lies in the partnership. Overcoming individual and institutional limitations are key to success and to creating synergistic effects and constructive contributions.
 At the end of this chapter, an overall summary and conclusion is attempted. This summary uses both the contents of the case studies and the contents of the survey "Non-Chemical Crop Protection and Needs for a Farmer-Oriented Research".