Stakeholder Interaction and Social Learning: The Trans-Disciplinary Research Process in Push-Pull Technology Implementation in Ethiopia
Isaac Mbeche Nyang'au1, Girma Kelboro1, Anna-Katharina Hornidge2, Charles Midega3, Christian Borgemeister1
1University of Bonn, Center for Development Research (ZEF), Germany
In the Ethiopian agricultural research - extension system, contribution of smallholder-farmers to find practical solutions to problems facing the agricultural sector is not fully harnessed. This study was implemented between August 2014 and April 2015 to illustrate the importance of stakeholder interaction using the Push-Pull Technology (PPT) to address the problem of the stemborer in maize in Bako Tibe, Jimma-Arjo and Yayu Woredas of Oromia, Ethiopia. In our study areas, maize was inter-cropped with a fodder legume, Desmodium (the push), together with an attractant trap plant, Napier/Brachiaria grass (the pull), planted around maize-legume inter-crop. The data was collected through 37 key informant interviews, 20 Focus Group Discussions, 2 workshops, participant observations and questionnaire interviews of 227 farmers. The findings showed the possibility of joint agricultural innovation development. On-farm implementation of PPT with the involvement of the multiple stakeholders created an opportunity to interact, learn from each other and appreciate the respective contributions. This was unlike the conventional linear communication from research-extension agents to farmers. The long-term nature of PPT implementation over several cropping seasons provides sufficient timelines for continuous learning and interaction. This was an opportunity for the stakeholders to clear doubts and suspicions they had at the beginning. The stemborer pest problem which had no previous promising solution was a strong motivation for the stakeholders' willingness to collaborate, share knowledge and experiences and to learn more. The use of farmers' fields enabled critical assessment, relaxed learning and appreciation of PPT. The PPT introduction was also a cause of conflicts with traditional practices such as inter-cropping cereals with perennial crops and roaming livestock during off-cropping season. This required change of the tradition established over generations. Despite short period of the study, the stakeholders appreciated PPT as a remedy to deal with the stemborer, a source of fodder and improving soil fertility. We consider adaptation to the new condition as part of the social learning process. However, they need 2-3 cropping seasons to learn and effectively assess PPT benefits. Therefore, research and follow-up are needed on the adaptation of the technology components to local needs and sustainability of the required inputs.
Keywords: Ethiopia, push-pull technology, social learning, stakeholders, trans-disciplinary research process
Contact Address: Isaac Mbeche Nyang'au, University of Bonn, Center for Development Research (ZEF), Political and Cultural Change, Genscherallee 3, D-53113 Bonn, Germany, e-mail: imbecheicipe.org