The use and abuse of the 'model farmer' approach in Ethiopia

A new Noragric study examines the implementation and effects of the model farmer-based approach of farmer-to-farmer extension delivery that is in use in Ethiopia. 

The model farmer approach has improved the possibility for information and technology dissemination, and enabled the inclusion of virtually all farming households in extension and advisory networks. Simultaneously, the approach has become a mechanism for the top-down control of farmers, for the identification and favouritism of better-off farmers, and those with political commitments. 

Who are the model farmers and why are they selected?

The findings of this study show that there is a need to critically reflect on who model farmers are, how they are selected, what their historical and current roles and impact have been, as well as follower farmers’ feedback on the approach in order to avoid perpetuating the misuse of the approach. 

The article argues that the Ethiopian context, which rewards rapid increase in production, modernisation of agriculture, competitive commercialisation and a context that allows the continued entanglement of extension delivery with politics have enabled such misuse of the approach to proliferate.

How applicable is farmer-to-farmer extension?

The study questions the extent of applicability of the core farmer-to-farmer extension principles that relate to social ties, reciprocity, collaboration, and minimal social hierarchies in such a context. 

This work generates important insights about the effects of model farmer-based extension approach, its political dimensions, and the importance of context for successful farmer-to-farmer extension.

Read more in the Journal of Agricultural Education and ExtensionThe use and abuse of the ‘model farmer’ approach in agricultural extension in Ethiopia by Selam Hailemichael & Ruth Haug (open access).
Published 11. May 2020 - 17:53 - Updated 12. May 2020 - 10:43