An assessment of different participatory dissemination approaches in agricultural development in western Kenya with specific reference to Emuhaya division of Vihiga district
This study looked at seven participatory approaches which are employed by the various stakeholders in disseminating information to farmers in western Kenya. These include community based participatory approach, participatory agro-ecosystem management, catchment approach, farmer field schools and participatory learning and action research. The others are training resource persons in agriculture for community extension and participatory approach to farm management. The study provided answers to the three major questions. The first one was, what are the participatory approaches that exist in Emuhaya division of Vihiga district in Western Kenya? The second question was, what are their strengths and weaknesses? On the other hand, the final question was, could they be harmonised to come up with the most useful ones in the context of Emuhaya division? The major objective of this study was to assess the effectiveness of the different participatory approaches in agricultural development in Emuhaya division of Vihiga district. Specifically the study inventorised the three participatory approaches used in Emuhaya division of western Kenya. The study also investigated the strengths and weaknesses of the various approaches. Finally, the study recommended and suggested approaches which that could be most useful in the context of Emu hay a division. The main method of data collection was interviewing. The researcher used a questionnaire, which was administered to respondents. She also carried out FGDs and key informant interviews. Direct observation was used to link up knowledge and practice. The researcher also carried out four case studies. Data was presented in the form of percentages and frequencies. The study revealed that, first, community-based groups are a good entry point for effective information dissemination. Secondly, farmers should be empowered and enlightened to learn more from station activities. Third, farmers do not actively seek for information; therefore, they should be enabled and supported in this venture. Fourth, there is need to involve farmers in all the four stages of research, namely, problem identification, planning, implementation and evaluation. Finally, research and development agencies need to move from supply driven research to demand driven research. The study came to the conclusion that a combination of two approaches, namely, farmer field schools and catchment approach, could be the most suitable in the dissemination of agricultural information in Emuhaya division. The strengths of the approaches could be banked on and the weaknesses addressed for effective and / or efficient information dissemination. The study thus recommends that, first, research and development agencies need approaches that can improve farmers' ability to innovate and efficiently manage their resource base. Secondly, research and development agencies should seek to appreciate and understand social relationships and structures in the society in relation to agricultural management issues. Third, there is need for publications and a communication strategy to spread information effectively and efficiently. Fourth, there is need to explore various constraints and existing opportunities and assess the farmers' resource levels with farmers' full participation. Finally, research and development agencies, should change their notion from inducing and motivating people to enabling, supporting and employing them to make decisions.