Evaluation of participatory approaches for responsive research & development in Ethiopia: success factors

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Amede T.
Assefa H.
Dibabe A.
Keneni G.
Mekonnen K.
Tesfaye A.
Jebessa S.

Coordinated formal efforts to generate technologies for enhancing agricultural development in Ethiopia was mainly rooted in formal research and development institutions up to very recently. A number of improved technologies have been generated wlth the efforts made so far and the superiority of some of the technologies over the traditional practices has already been proved, at least for the major commodities. However, there is evidence showing that technologies developed on-station were not always consumed by farmers, partly because they were designed and evaluated without appreciating the socio-economlc set-up and variability of endusers. Even though the concept of PR approach is not yet well developed in Ethiopia, there are a number of efforts at pilot levels that could serve as learning ground. Cognizant of the need to make research more effective and responsive EARO in consultation with AHI took a step in assessing the efforts and initiatives that have been made in Ethiopia so far in the area of PR. Eight different local PR experiences were assessed using various M&E tools. These include the African Highland Initiative (AHI), Participatory Plant Breeding (PPB) project (Awassa), Joint Vertisol Project (JVP), Participatory Research for Integrated Agro-ecosystem Management (PRIAM), Participatory Plant Breeding (PPB) project (MelkaSaa), Farmers Participatory Research (FPR) Project (FARM Africa, Awassa), Cool Season Food and Forage Legumes Project and Integrated Pest Management. Data was collected through formal and informal intensive discussion of the team with farmers, researchers, participated governmental and non-govemmental institutions, institution leaders and key informants. The synthesis results indicated opportunities on how to make conventional agricultural research more effective and impact-oriented. From the successful participatory research effort there was an improvement in the internal and external efficiency of research systems and system-compatible technology generation and technology dissemination processes. PR approaches brought up important impacts and strengths at various scales, depending on the degree of participation of stakeholders, duration of the study, amount of finance of the project, institutional support and market to the products. 

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