Knowledge transfer in the field: Solving crop residue problems in Niger

Research paper by Petra R. Feil, John P. A. Lamers, Ludger Herrmann

Indexed on: 01 Apr '95Published on: 01 Apr '95Published in: The Journal of Technology Transfer


A major recurrent problem of agronomic research is whether its results can be transformed into recommendations relevant to the livelihood of the intended beneficiaries, the small farmers—and if they can, then how. This problem is illuminated by research on mulching with millet crop residues, and by the translation of the results into agricultural extension in Niger, West Africa. Comparisons of different experiments with identical crop residue applications, conducted in the same year and at the same research station but implemented on different fields and managed by different researchers, showed high heterogeneity in their outcome. In addition, farmers have multiple uses for crop residues, which greatly complicates the formulation and transfer of research recommendations. This discussion is examined from agronomic, economic, and extension viewpoints. The development of adapted innovations for farming systems in Niger requires that the current agronomic research be reconsidered, with a move toward greater participation of farmers. Alternatives to the dominant transfer of technology concept are discussed.