Bachmann, Lorenz B. R.: Review of the Agricultural Knowledge System in Fiji - Opportunities and Limitations of Participatory Methods and Platforms to promote Innovation Development -

Institut für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften des Landbaus der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin


Review of the Agricultural Knowledge System in Fiji
- Opportunities and Limitations of Participatory Methods and Platforms to promote Innovation Development -
Dissertation

zur Erlangung des akademischen Grades
Doctor rerum agriculturarum
(Dr. rer. agr.)

eingereicht an der
Landwirtschaftlich-Gärtnerischen Fakultät
der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

von Dipl.-Ing. agr. Lorenz B. R. Bachmann ,
geboren am 30.09.1963 in Hünfeld

Präsident
Der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Prof. Dr. Jürgen Mlynek

Dekan der
Landwirtschaftlich-Gärtnerischen Fakultät:
Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. Ernst Lindemann.

Gutachter:
Prof. Dr. Uwe Jens Nagel
PD Dr. Andreas Nebelung

Tag der mündlichen Prüfung: 21.12.2000

Keywords:
Knowledge systems , Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA), plattforms, innovation development, research and extension priority setting

Abstract

The small Island country Fiji has an articulated agricultural knowledge system with private and public institutions. The agricultural research and extension departments of the Ministry of Agriculture are the focus of this study. A participatory action research methodology was used to investigate the potential of participatory methods and to improve information flows between farmers and the Ministry in order to achieve a systematic Integration of farmers‘ problems into the knowledge system. Furthermore, the potential of platforms in improvement of the efficiency of work in the Ministry was studied.

Participatory methods proved suitable in improving the dialog with farmers and the analysis of their problems. Besides this, farmers potentials and their ideas for solutions could be assessed. As a result, a model for the systematic compilation of farmers‘ problems and respective research and extension priorities could be elaborated. The training course on participatory methods revealed the following strength of Ministry staff: organising surveys, field use of tools, presentation and visualisation of findings. Conceptual thinking, analytical skills, interpretation, and report writing skills were identified as weaknesses. These deficits restrict the problem solving potential of participatory methods in the Ministry. Further education of Ministry staff and revised curricula at the local agricultural colleges will be required, to raise the overall level of scientific education.

Four projects that were studied as cases for platforms, revealed that platforms were suitable means for promoting innovation development and somewhat less successful for the diffusion of findings. The most successful platform was characterised by a balanced contribution and participation of all actors involved. Strengths of the platform model were identified as such: better co-ordination, improved linkages, better interplay of actors, better means to reach goals, reduced duplication of efforts, and better use of resources. Weaknesses were seen in the need to achieve consensus and co-ordination, the weakening of hierarchical authority due to increased flexibility, and the fact that experienced-trained staff were not available in abundance in the Ministry.

Three years after the first introduction of participatory methods in the Ministry, a partial institutionalisation could be observed. For the further consolidation of participatory methods and platforms, a linkage unit for further promotion is recommended.

Schlagwörter:
Wissens Systeme, Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) , Plattformen , Innovationsentwicklung, Prioritätensetzung für Forschung und Beratung

Zusammenfassung

Der Inselstaat Fidschi im Südpazifik hat ein ausgeprägtes Landwirtschaftliches Wissenssystem mit einer Reihe privater und staatlicher Institutionen. Im Mittelpunkt der Untersuchung standen die staatlichen Agrarforschungs- und Beratungsabteilungen des Landwirtschaftsministeriums. Mit einem partizipativen Aktionsforschungsansatz wurde untersucht, welchen Beitrag partizipative Methoden zur Verbesserung des Informationsflusses zwischen Bauern und dem Ministerium leisten können, um damit eine systematische Integration der Probleme der Bauern im Wissenssystem zu erreichen. Weiterhin wurde erhoben, welchen Beitrag Plattformen für eine effizientere Arbeit im Ministerium leisten können.

Partizipative Methoden (PRA) erwiesen sich als sehr geeignet den Dialog mit den Bauern zu fördern und deren Probleme zu analysieren. Neben den Problemen konnten auch die Potenziale der Betriebe und bäuerliche Lösungsvorschläge gut erfasst werden. Als Ergebnis wurde eine Modell zur systematischen Problemerfassung und Bestimmung von Forschungs- und Beratungsprioritäten erarbeitet.

Der Trainingskurs in partizipativen Methoden zeigte folgende Stärken der lokalen Mitarbeiter auf: Organisieren von Untersuchungen, Anwendung partizipativer Methoden im Feld, praktische Implementierung, Visualisierung und Präsentation von Untersuchungsergebnissen. Schwachpunkte wurden hingegen in folgenden Bereichen festgestellt: konzeptionelles Denken, Interpretation und Auswertung der Daten sowie der schriftlichen Abfassung von Ergebnissen. Diese Defizite im konzeptionellen Bereich schränken das mit den Methoden erreichbare Problemlösungspotenzial ein. Weiterbildung der Mitarbeiter und eine Verbesserung der lokalen Agrarausbildung werden benötigt, um das Niveau der wissenschaftlichen Ausbildung anzuheben.

Die Untersuchung von vier Projekten zeigte, dass diese als Plattformen gut zur Innovationsentwicklung und eingeschränkt zu deren Verbreitung geeignet waren. Eine ausgewogene Beteiligung aller Akteure zeichnete die erfolgreichste Plattform aus. Als Stärken des Plattformmodells konnten festgehalten werden: bessere Koordination, verbesserte Verbindungen und Schnittstellen, bessere Zusammenarbeit aller Akteure, bessere Aussichten gesetzte Ziele zu erreichen, Vermeidung von Doppelforschung und eine effiziente Ausnutzung der vorhandenen Ressourcen. Schwächen des Modells wurden in folgenden Punkten gesehen: Konsenserzielung, institutionelle Akzeptanz und Mangel an entsprechend ausgebildeten Fachkräften im Ministerium.

Drei Jahre nach Beginn der Trainingsmaßnahmen konnte eine teilweise Institutionalisierung von partizipativen Methoden im Ministerium festgestellt werden. Zur weiteren Konsolidierung partizipativer Methoden und Plattformen wird eine Linkage-Abteilung empfohlen.


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Table of Contents

Front pageReview of the Agricultural Knowledge System in Fiji - Opportunities and Limitations of Participatory Methods and Platforms to promote Innovation Development -
Acknowledgements
Abbreviations List of Abbreviations
1 Problem definition and research purpose
1.1 Background of the study
1.2 Fiji, a small Island Nation struggling to face the challenges of globalisation
1.3 Research design
1.3.1 Research objectives and research questions
1.3.2 Working hypotheses
1.4 Organisation of the study
2 Theory review: Agricultural Innovation and Agricultural Knowledge Systems
2.1Comparison of innovation theories
2.2Agricultural Knowledge Systems
2.2.1Knowledge system functions
2.2.2Controversies in systems thinking
2.2.3Platforms or theatres of agricultural innovation
2.2.4Viewing the Fiji AKIS
2.2.5 Some criticism put forward
3 Methodological framework
3.1 Participatory Action Research (PAR)
3.2 The role of the researcher
3.3 Chronology of research activities
3.4 Tools and data quality
4 Fiji: country and agricultural development
4.1 Basic facts
4.1.1 Geography
4.1.2 Population and ethnic groups
4.1.3 Climate
4.1.4 Topography, land use and major farming systems
4.1.5 Land tenure
4.2Productivity development of selected crop enterprises
5 The Agricultural Knowledge and Information System in Fiji
5.1Overview: organisations, institutions and actors within the Fijian Agricultural Knowledge and Information System
5.2 Ministry of Agriculture, central player in the Fijian Agricultural Knowledge and Information System
5.2.1 Goals and organisational structure
5.2.2 Economic Planning and Statistics Division
5.3 Research Division
5.3.1Mission and goals
5.3.2 Organisational structure and tasks
5.3.3 Available resources and staff qualifications
5.3.4 Research priority setting
5.3.5 Main activities and working approaches
5.3.6 Summarising conclusions
5.4 Extension Division
5.4.1 Mission and goals
5.4.2 Organisational structure, available resources and staff qualifications
5.4.3Priority setting, activities and working approach
5.4.4 Summarising conclusions
5.5 Farmers, the knowledge users
5.5.1 Towards user classification; some socio-economic characteristics of farms
5.5.1.1 Labour availability on farms
5.5.1.2 Farm income and expenditure
5.5.1.3 Cropping activities
5.5.1.4 Conclusions on farm classification
5.5.2 Farmers‘ ways to acquire skills and information and attitude towards innovation
5.5.3Basic needs satisfaction and farming problems
5.5.4 A model for integration farmers‘ problems into the AKIS
5.6Linkages and information flow between the main actors
5.6.1Existing linkage problems
5.6.2Information flow
6 Improvement of the AKIS: some possible solutions
6.1Addressing linkage problems
6.1.1 Measures of various donor projects
6.1.2 Impact of the measures to reduce linkage problems
6.2 Training participatory methods
6.2.1 First training cycle
6.2.2 Second training cycle
6.2.3 Third training cycle
6.2.4 Review of the training process
6.2.4.1 Evaluation after the completion of the training course
6.2.4.2 Longer term training impact two years later
6.2.5 Institutionalisation of participatory methods
6.3 Comparison of working approaches: selected study cases
6.3.1 Sigatoka Valley Rural Development Programme (SVRDP)
6.3.2 Vegetable seed and planting material (PRAP P3)
6.3.3 Agroforestry and farming systems (PRAP P1)
6.3.4 Pineapple export production
6.3.5 Conclusions of these experiences
6.4 Outlook: platforms as means to promote innovations
6.4.1 Platforms as linkage mechanism
6.4.2 Leadership and co-ordination in platforms
6.4.3 Policy framework for platforms
6.4.4 Driving force for platforms
6.4.5 Ways to start-up platforms
6.4.6 Suitability of the platform model for Fiji
7 Discussion of results and recommendations
7.1 Integrating farmers‘ problems into the AKIS
7.2 Making better use of participatory methods
7.3 Ways to improve the organisation and performance of the Ministry
7.4 The potential role of platforms in the AKIS
7.5 Fields for further research
8 Summaries
8.1 English summary
8.2 Deutsche Zusammenfassung
Bibliography Bibliography
Appendix A Annex
Vita
Declaration

Table of Tables

Table 1: Research design
Table 2: Basic configurations
Table 3: Functions of knowledge systems according to various authors
Table 4: Characteristics of hard and soft systems
Table 5: Composition of
workshop participants
Table 6: RRA and PRA
cycle length in weeks
Table 7: Questionnaire sample size
Table 8: Fiji in global comparison.
Table 9: EP&S staff resources
Table 10: Allocated budget of EP&S in ’000 FJD
Table 11: Development of Research Division staff and remuneration levels
Table 12: Position and highest qualification of Research Division staff
Table 13: Research Division‘s budget development
Table 14: Actor influence in the formulation of research priorities
Table 15: Main sources of information used by the Research Division
Table 16: Steps before recommendations release
Table 17: Development of staff in the Extension Division
Table 18: Qualification and position of Extension Division staff
Table 19: Extension Division‘s budget development
Table 20: Actor influence in the formulation of extension priorities
Table 21: Main sources of information used by the Extension Division
Table 22: Ratio of farmers to extension officers
Table 23: Main reasons for farm visits
Table 24: RRA/PRA exercises and specific variables investigated
Table 25: Daily labour activity profile for farmers in lowland settlements Serua
Table 26: Farmers‘ ranking of tomato variety characteristics
Table 27: Farmers‘ problem ranking in selected settlements
Table 28: Problems related to vegetable production by farmer group and location
Table 29: Problems, their causes and solutions
Table 30: Linkage problems: Improvement 1997 versus 1994
Table 31: Improvement of technology development and dissemination
Table 32: Improvement of abilities during the training course
Table 33: Rating of abilities of MAFF staff in PRA principles
Table 34: Use of participatory methods
Table 35: Use of participatory methods in selected application fields
Table 36: Framework conditions for participatory methods
Table 37: Potential of different actors for platform leadership
Table 38: Strengths and weaknesses of the platform model
Annex 1: Daily labour activity profile for farmers in an upland settlement
Annex 2: Development of production for major crop enterprises
Annex 3: General staff abilities rated by different groups

Table of Figures

Figure 1: Knowledge system functions
Figure 2: Composition of platforms
Figure 3: Platform model
Figure 4: The action research spiral
Figure 5: Multiple-loop learning in action research
Figure 6: Time chart of research activities
Figure 7: Triangulation of tools and research topics
Figure 8: Land use and economic structure
Figure 9: Crop and livestock enterprises in relation to rainfall
Figure 10: Partition of land
Figure 11: Production development for major crops
Figure 12: Yield development for selected crops 1976-1998
Figure 13: Average area and yield growth in % per year for selected crops 1976-1998
Figure 14: Simplified model of the Fijian AKIS
Figure 15: MAFF organisational chart
Figure 16: Research Division, organisational chart and station locations
Figure 17: Time allocation of Research Division staff
Figure 18: Time allocation of Extension Division staff
Figure 19: Cropping pattern by area and farm type
Figure 20: Basic needs satisfaction in selected locations
Figure 21: Model for feeding farmers‘ problems into the AKIS
Figure 22: Model of information flow at MAFF
Figure 23: MAFF and organisational interaction: management group view
Figure 24: MAFF and organisational interaction: cross sectional group view
Figure 25: Relative influence of selected actors in the case studies
Figure 26: New platform model


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