/Farmer to farmer extension: Cascading of localized knowledge gains

Farmer to farmer extension: Cascading of localized knowledge gains

Mr Gift Tshuma is one of the pioneer lead farmers under Beef Enterprise Strengthening and Transformation (BEST) project in Lupane district. He is a 52 year old farmer who resides in Manasa village in Malunku ward. He owns 24 heard of cattle. Mr Tshuma got linked to the BEST project through attending the ward extension meetings in 2019. During the process of selecting lead farmers which was led by government extension officers, Mr Tshuma was selected as one of the male lead farmers under Malunku ward. He then started his journey as a lead farmer, convinced and mentored 10 other farmers in his area.

As the project is expected to capacitate lead farmers through trainings and capacity building, the farmer has since attended different livestock related trainings that include Urea treated stover. Mr Tshuma even hosted a fodder demonstration plot on Urea Treatment of Stover (UTS) during the 2019 farming period. The first demonstration on UTS motivated the farmer to continue preparing for supplementary feed for his livestock in advance of the dry season.

After having adopted the concept of fodder conservation and realising the benefits of UTS from the previous farming season Mr Tshuma saw it crucial to voluntarily avail himself as the lead farmer to mentor and cascade the knowledge gained from BEST to other local farmers. He began to mentor other farmers on UTS through practical trainings. After conducting the first UTS training in his homestead, two more farmers availed themselves for the training. A total of three UTS farmer to farmer cascading training were conducted with the assistance of other stakeholders (DVS and AGRITEX). This led to most farmers in the area developing interest in urea treatment and fodder conservation as more request have been sent to conduct the UTS trainings. This interest will improve adoption on good animal husbandry practises and improve cattle productivity.

Farmer to farmer extension is playing a contemporary role to extension services in facilitating the spread of agricultural technologies and improving farmers’ capacity. The farmer-to-farmer extension services approach enhances localised knowledge and skills access by farmers which is a more sustainable extension model. The farmer conducted three farmer to farmer urea treatment demonstrations that resulted to 1.75tonnes of stover being conserved. Additionally, other farmers in the area developed a buy inn into the program and the lead farmer managed to have the second group of 12 farmers registered for mentorship. Nevertheless, farmers in the area highlighted shortage of inputs such as urea fertiliser and high prices as the limiting factors that will limit adoption rate.