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Husson O.,CIRAD - Agricultural Research for Development | Tran Quoc H.,CIRAD | Boulakia S.,CIRAD - Agricultural Research for Development | Chabanne A.,CIRAD - Agricultural Research for Development | And 14 more authors.
Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems | Year: 2015

Rapid changes in agricultural systems call for profound changes in agricultural research and extension practices. The Diagnosis, Design, Assessment, Training and Extension (DATE) approach was developed and applied to co-design Conservation Agriculture-based cropping systems in contrasted situations. DATE is a multi-scale, multi-stakeholder participatory approach that integrates scientific and local knowledge. It emerged in response to questions raised by and issues encountered in the design of innovative systems. A key feature of this approach is the high input of innovative systems which are often although not exclusively based on conservation agricultural practices. Prototyping of innovative cropping systems (ICSs) largely relies on a conceptual model of soil–plant–macrofauna–microorganism system functioning. By comparing the implementation of the DATE approach and conservation agriculture-based cropping systems in Madagascar, Lao PDR, and Cambodia, we show that: (i) the DATE approach is flexible enough to be adapted to local conditions; (ii) market conditions need to be taken into account in designing agricultural development scenarios; and (iii) the learning process during the transition to conservation agriculture requires time. The DATE approach not only enables the co-design of ICSs with farmers, but also incorporates training and extension dimensions. It feeds back practitioners’ questions to researchers, and provides a renewed and extended source of innovation to farmers. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2015

Lestrelin G.,IRD Montpellier | Nanthavong K.,Provincial Agriculture and Forestry Office | Jobard E.,Agro ParisTech | Keophoxay A.,National Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute NAFRI | And 4 more authors.
Outlook on Agriculture | Year: 2012

Over the past decade, efforts have been made to promote conservation agriculture as an ecologically sound alternative to tillage-based agriculture in the Lao People's Democratic Republic (PDR). This paper assesses some of the outcomes of a five-year research project aimed at developing sustainable no-till cropping and pasture systems and promoting their adoption by smallholders in Xieng Khouang province. Based on extensive household surveys in 20 villages, it highlights key environmental and socioeconomic factors influencing the adoption and diffusion of conservation agriculture. Finally, it provides policy recommendations to facilitate agricultural innovation and provide greater incentives for farmers to shift towards more sustainable farming practices.

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