Agro Insight

Gent, Belgium

Agro Insight

Gent, Belgium
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Wyckhuys K.A.G.,International Institute Of Tropical Agriculture | Bentley J.W.,Agro Insight | Nghiem L.T.P.,International Institute Of Tropical Agriculture | Fredrix M.,Food and Agriculture Organization FAO
BioControl | Year: 2017

When anthropologists interviewed Honduran and Nepali smallholders in the mid-1990s, they were told that “Insects are a terrible mistake in God’s creation” and “There’s nothing that kills them, except for insecticides”. Even growers who maintained a close bond with nature were either entirely unaware of natural pest control, or expressed doubt about the actual value of these services on their farm. Farmers’ knowledge, beliefs and attitudes towards pests and natural enemies are of paramount importance to the practice of biological control, but are all too often disregarded. In this study, we conduct a retrospective analysis of the extent to which social science facets have been incorporated into biological control research over the past 25 years. Next, we critically examine various biological control forms, concepts and technologies using a ‘diffusion of innovations’ framework, and identify elements that hamper their diffusion and farm-level uptake. Lastly, we introduce effective observation-based learning strategies, such as farmer field schools to promote biological control, and list how those participatory approaches can be further enriched with information and communication technologies (ICT). Although biological control scientists have made substantial technological progress and generate nearly 1000 papers annually, only a fraction (1.4%) of those address social science or technology transfer aspects. To ease obstacles to enhanced farmer learning about biological control, we describe ways to communicate biological control concepts and technologies for four divergent agricultural knowledge systems (as identified within a matrix built around ‘cultural importance’ and ‘ease of observation’). Furthermore, we describe how biological control innovations suffer a number of notable shortcomings that hamper their farm-level adoption and subsequent diffusion, and point at ways to remediate those by tactical communication campaigns or customized, (ICT-based) adult education programs. Amongst others, we outline how video, smart phones, or tablets can be used to convey key ecological concepts and biocontrol technologies, and facilitate social learning. In today’s digital era, cross-disciplinary science and deliberate multi-stakeholder engagement will provide biocontrol advocates the necessary means to bolster farmer adoption rates, counter-act surging insecticide use, and restore public trust in one of nature’s prime services. © 2017 International Organization for Biological Control (IOBC)


Demont M.,Africa Rice Center | Zossou E.,University of Liège | Zossou E.,Africa Rice Center | Zossou E.,Ghent University | And 5 more authors.
Food Quality and Preference | Year: 2012

In Benin, traditional parboiling is still widely practiced among rice processors, resulting in inferior grain quality. A new parboiler was introduced to improve the milling yield and intrinsic quality of local rice. We conducted Vickrey second price auctions to elicit rural Beninese consumers' willingness to pay for rice obtained through the new parboiler and two locally innovated parboilers. The individual auctions were followed by a group discussion during which consensus was reached on socially acceptable prices. Relative to traditionally parboiled rice, consumers were willing to pay price premiums of 9-13% for rice obtained through a local parboiler using a container of which the bottom is a perforated metal, 27% for rice obtained through a local parboiler using wooden sticks at the bottom of the pot, and 25-34% for rice parboiled through the improved parboiler. Bids were influenced by the presentation order of the products according to perceived quality. Bids were also higher when participants had been informed on the benefits of improved parboiling techniques, which is a crucial insight for developing marketing and communication strategies for this improved quality product. Group bids were not significantly different from individual bids which suggests that the latter are within the range of socially acceptable prices defined through group consensus. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.


Rodenburg J.,Africa Rice Center | Both J.,Wageningen University | Heitkonig I.M.A.,Wageningen University | van Koppen C.S.A.,Wageningen University | And 3 more authors.
Society and Natural Resources | Year: 2012

To contribute to the development of strategies for sustainable agricultural land use and biodiversity conservation in landscapes without formal protection status, we investigated the local use and management of noncultivated plants as important ecosystem functions of inland valleys in south Benin and Togo, and local perceptions on changes in plant biodiversity and causes for these changes. Local users of noncultivated plants perceived agriculture and construction as major factors contributing to the reduction of (noncultivated) plant biodiversity. However, they also collect many useful species from agricultural fields and the village. A small community forest reserve and a 2-ha community garden were the only organized forms of conservation management. Observed ad hoc conservation initiatives were selective harvesting of plant parts, preserving trees during land clearing, and allowing useful weed species in the field. Future development and conservation efforts in unprotected landscapes with multiple ecosystem functions should acknowledge knowledge, interests, and needs of local communities. © 2012 Copyright AfricaRice.


Zossou E.,University of Liège | Zossou E.,Africa Rice Center | Van Mele P.,Agro Insight | Wanvoeke J.,Wageningen University | Lebailly P.,University of Liège
Experimental Agriculture | Year: 2012

Using the sustainable livelihoods framework to evaluate the impact of a farmer-to-farmer video on the improved rice parboiling technology, women in Benin rated financial, social, human, natural and physical capital stocks for the baseline year (2006) and the impact year (2009) on a 0-5 scale. Women who had watched the video and those who had not, but who lived in the same villages, perceived a significant improvement in four out of five livelihood capitals while processors in control villages did not perceive any significant change. Apart from testing the sustainable livelihoods conceptual framework as a participatory impact assessment tool for video-mediated rural learning, this study shows how farmer-to-farmer training videos helped to improve multiple livelihood assets. © Cambridge University Press 2012.


Chowdhury A.H.,University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna | van Mele P.,Agro Insight | van Mele P.,Africa Rice Center | Hauser M.,University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna
Journal of Sustainable Agriculture | Year: 2011

Sustainable agriculture requires suitable group learning approaches that trigger capital assets building. Drawing mainly on face-to-face extension, methods and approaches used in sustain-able agricultural projects aim at triggering learning and capital assets building. To target and to reach out to a large number of resource-poor households the potential role of media, such as video, has received less attention. In Bangladesh, videos on sustainable rice seed practices were developed with farmers and then shown in multiple villages. This study reports on the contribution of farmer- to-farmer video-mediated group learning to capital assets building of women in resource-poor households. Data were collected using structured interviews with 140 randomly selected women in 28 video villages and 40 women in four control villages in north-west Bangladesh. Video-mediated group learning enhanced women's ability to apply and experiment with seed technologies. It also stimulated reciprocal sharing of new knowledge and skills between them, other farmers and service providers. Rice yields increased by 15%, which improved the women's social and economic status and intra-household decision-making. Over 20% of the households attained rice self-sufficiency, with no changes observed in control villages. This study has provided insights into the potential use of farmer-to-farmer video in sustainable agriculture to strengthen human, social and financial capital and to reduce poverty. © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


Bentley J.W.,Agro Insight
Outlooks on Pest Management | Year: 2016

When crops are taken from one continent to another, their pests and diseases eventually catch up with them. When there is no research capacity to respond, the farmers can have serious problems. Guatemala is poised on the edge of a disaster with cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum), a spice crop which has been grown in the Central American country for over 100 years. Cardamom is the fourth largest earner of foreign exchange for Guatemala. Central Americans do not cook with cardamom, and nearly all of their harvest is exported, half a world away, especially to the Middle East. Thousands of Guatemalan farm families depend on cardamom, which is ideally suited to the cool, tropical highlands. A cardamom virus arrived in 1975 and has already wiped out the crop in the southwest of the country. It first appeared around Quetzaltenango and by 1980 was present in nearly all cardamom gardens and fields of the South Pacific coast of Guatemala, where 60% of the crop had been grown. It was probably spread by rhizome cuttings (Gonzalves et al 1986). In just the past few years, Guatemalan cardamom has also acquired two insect pests: the ginger weevil (Cholus pilicauda) and a tiny, black insect about the size of a pinhead, called the cardamom thrips (Sciothrips cardamomi) (Claudio Nunes, personal communication). The thrips entered Guatemala in 2012, probably from India, the homeland of cardamom. In spite of cardamom’s importance, Guatemala never established any research to support it. (The way that Colombia did with coffee, and Ghana did with cacao, for instance). This makes cardamom especially vulnerable to new pests and diseases. Some isolated researchers and international volunteers are trying to learn about these new problems and offer a solution, but when research starts from zero it may not find a solution in time. © 2016 Research Information Ltd. All rights reserved.


Bentley J.,Agricultural Anthropologist | Van Mele P.,Agro Insight
International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability | Year: 2011

Civil servants, agricultural researchers, extension people and media experts often think that videos for farmers need to be filmed locally, so that the audience identifies with the actors. But this is not so. Farmers in southwestern and northern Nigeria reacted to videos on rice seed health (made in Bangladesh), on parboiling (filmed in Benin) and rice cultivation (from Mali). The farmers criticized the videos freely, but their remarks were about the technical pros and cons of the technologies presented in the videos. The farmers had no preference for watching videos featuring West African or Bangladeshi actors. The farmers only cared about the technical content of the film. This is an important, practical conclusion, because it is much easier and cheaper to dub a film into a second language than to film it over again. © 2011 Earthscan.


Bentley J.W.,Agro Insight | Van Mele P.,Agro Insight | Harun-ar-Rashid M.,Agricultural Advisory Society AAS | Krupnik T.J.,International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center
Journal of Agricultural Education and Extension | Year: 2015

Purpose: To describe the results of showing farmer learning videos through different types of volunteers. Design/Methodology/Approach: Semi-structured interviews with volunteers from different occupational groups in Bangladesh, and a phone survey with 227 respondents. Findings: Each occupational group acted differently. Shop keepers, tillage service providers, agricultural input and machine dealers reached fairly small audiences. Tea stall owners had large, male audiences. Non-governmental organisations and community-based organisations, reached more women. The cable TV (dish-line) operators showed the videos on local TV, but some were reluctant to do so again. The Union Information Service Centres showed the videos and reached women viewers. Half of the official government extension agents surveyed also showed the videos publically. Practical Implication: This video featured maize, wheat and rice seeding machinery. Because the machinery is complex and requires hands-on training, this first video aimed to expose tillage and sowing service providers and farmers to the machinery, without trying to teach them how to use it. But some farmers were so interested that they watched the video many times to learn more about the equipment. Before farmers and service providers decide to buy machinery for direct seeding, they still want to see and learn from demonstration plantings, to examine first-hand how the crop behaves when planted with the new equipment. Originality/Value: Video can be an effective way of sharing high-quality information with a large audience, if properly distributed. © 2015 Wageningen University

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