PR – The Development And Role Of Novel Farm Management Methods For Use By Small-Scale Farmers In Developing Countries
A key aspect of farm management is decision making and a variety of methods to assist with decision making are widely used in commercial agriculture, ranging from simple budgets through to complex computer models. The vast majority of the worlds’ farmers however have relatively small units of land and are in developing countries. It is widely accepted that these farmers make rational decisions within the challenging, complex, and risky environments that they operate. Despite major training and dissemination initiatives over many years, supported by national governments and international organisations to encourage farmers and extension staff to use farm management budgeting methods, uptake has remained extremely low. This paper reports on a research project funded by the UK Department for International Development, that firstly identified what small-scale farmers wanted from decision making methods and then worked with farmers and advisors in Ghana and Zimbabwe to develop and evaluate new and appropriate methods. These methods, in particular participatory budgets, have subsequently been successfully used in a range of developing countries. Results from activities conducted to evaluate participatory budgets are presented together with experience of their use for a variety of farm management functions, including planning and decision making. The findings demonstrate that they provide a useful method for small-scale and for non and semi-literate farmers operating in challenging environments, as well as for extension and research staff working with them.
Keywords: participatory budget, participatory farm management method, PRA, decision making, planning, response farming.