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Dynamics of scaling-out with small-holder farmers in Southeast Asia

John G. Connell

CIAT in Asia, NAFRI Compound, Vientiane, Lao PDR, Email


Improving the livelihoods of small-holder farmers in Southeast Asia faces serious challenges; poor resource base; diverse conditions, and weak market structures. CIAT’s work in the region is providing not only improved technologies, but also mechanisms for scaling-out.

The introduction of forages has often been frustrated by the complex nature of small-holder livestock production and diversity of the production environment. Reducing time and labor to provide feed has been the entry point for forages across the region. Subsequent innovation by farmers generated new improved ‘systems’, resulting in greater productivity and livelihood impacts, including the reduction of shifting cultivation.

The Rural Innovations program of CIAT, is providing alternatives to technology-based development strategies. Application of an Agro-Enterprise Development Process (AEDP), where farmers participate in ‘market chain’ studies, can generate significant increases in production within a single season. The constraints of other actors in the chain, such as traders and processors, are also addressed. Scaling-out is gained through (a) service providers taking their services to an expanding number of villages, and (b) through Zonal Market Networking Meetings. This can lead to policy and regulatory changes which affect a whole sub-sector.

Three key learnings: (1) where ‘systems change’ is needed to gain impacts, improved technologies need to be integrated into new systems. This is done most efficiently by engaging farmers’ innovation within an extension context. The new system becomes the product for scaling-out; (2) application of AEDP can generate rapid change in production, and gain leverage for expansion from the private sector.

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