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close this bookAgroforestry in the West African Sahel (BOSTID, 1984, 82 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentAcknowledgements
View the documentPreface
View the documentOverview
View the documentChapter 1: Desertification in the Sahel
View the documentChapter 2: Traditional Land Use Systems
View the documentChapter 3: Uses and Potential of Agroforestry
View the documentChapter 4: Agroforestry Applications
View the documentChapter 5: Sahelian Agroforestry: Institutional Considerations
View the documentReferences
View the documentBibliography
Open this folder and view contentsAppendixes

Chapter 5: Sahelian Agroforestry: Institutional Considerations

What are the institutional problems involved in the design and implementation of agroforestry programs in the Sahel? In this chapter we focus on information and participation issues that must be addressed if agroforestry extension programs are to work effectively. To this end, a checklist is provided of potential constraints--technical, economic, financial, legal, and political--that may impede or, in some settings, totally block efforts to promote agroforestry. Program designers can begin tackling these issues early in the project design stage, thus markedly reducing difficulties later when agroforestry program personnel seek working rapport with farmers and herders, who will inevitably carry the bulk of the day-to-day burden of Sahelian environmental management. Forestry and agricultural agencies, which now are and likely will remain material- and personnel-poor (Club du Sahel 1981, 1982a), can at best only point the way toward better environmental management practices; they can never apply them on any significant scale.

This chapter is divided into three sections: (1) an initial, brief statement of the problem and general outline of a solution; (2) a review of preliminary information useful to project planners who want to incorporate into agroforestry programs institutional elements that encourage sustained popular participation; and (3) design criteria for effective agroforestry extension systems.


PROBLEM STATEMENT AND SOLUTION OUTLINES

Problem

The problem, in its simplest form, is how to establish working agroforestry programs in arid areas. A "working' agroforestry program will ensure environmental stabilization or improvement. It will also provide for an increased flow of benefits from the environment to its major users--people and livestock.

People will generally benefit if stock numbers and health levels can be increased without damage to supporting environments. They will enjoy increased access to livestock products, improved food crop production efficiencies, and enhanced environmental capacity to supply fuel, construction wood, and other forest products indispensable to their well-being. Chapter 3 offers a more elaborate definition of the potential range of outputs from an effective agroforestry system.

A working agroforestry program as defined here assumes extensive largely spontaneous popular participation in program-promoted activities Given current and probable future staffing levels, neither agricultural and livestock services nor their traditionally poorer colleagues in forestry departments can hope to muster enough manpower to work individually with rural dwellers to improve indigenous agroforestry techniques, let alone put those lessons into practice throughout the vast Sahelian area. Wither rural people in the Sahel will teach as well as do agroforestry or it will not be done.

"Doing agroforestry" is a complex task. It requires capability and willingness to assess varied specific local conditions, field by field, and then fled and implement solutions by associating trees with food crops and pastures. The goal must be to lessen or overcome problems that rural dwellers face in trying to maintain a fragile renewable resource base while, at the same time, extracting from it the wherewithal to stay alive. An approach to the detailed diagnosis and design of agroforestry systems based on East African experience is described by Raintree in Appendix B.

Participation by rural people in agroforestry projects or programs cannot be limited to simple execution of generalized strategies recommended by experts. Sahelian conditions are too complex to admit of formula solutions. Instead, pastoralists and farmers must be helped to build on what la, frequently, a substantial existing local capital of agroforestry experience and techniques. They will require assistance from local experts if they are to get the most out of their environments consonant with sustained-yield use. But experts, in turn, will require the willing and conscious participation of rural people in thinking through agroforestry problems (Thomson 1980a). Those who till the land and herd the animals must become full partners in any realistic effort to create a working agroforestry system under Sahelian conditions.

To achieve the goal set out, experts and Sahelian foresters must find ways to work with and through rural people. They can no longer permit themselves the luxury of "purely technical operations, which by and large have been dismal failures in terms of both cost effectiveness and environmental management (Club du Sahel 1981, 1982a, 1982b). Implicit here is the need for an extension service capable of promoting agroforestry under Sahelian conditions.


Approach to a Solution

This definition of the problem sets two requirements for a solution. First, in order to interest rural people (who already lead a marginal existence) in resource management, programs must appear to them as worthwhile activities Second, solutions must be tailored to fit the contours, institutional as well as natural, of local settings.

Solutions will involve people if the solutions promise net benefits and do not overtax local resource bases or organizational capabilities (Thomson 1980b). Institutional and natural characteristics of local settings are clearly not immutable. But if renewable resource management is to depend on increased external support for environmental management--for example, from donor contributions--or on changes in the working rules of local life in thousands of Sahelian communities, realism demands careful assessment of chances of success. Planners will be well advised to think through proposed changes to determine whether they can be effected and then sustained. If changes are feasible, in terms of costs to the target group of resource managers--rural Sahelians--and in terms of sustainability, both of new rules and levels of external funding, then management of renewable resources in specific locations may become a reality. If not, other approaches to stemming Sahelian environmental degradation must be sought.


RELEVANT PRELIMINARY INFORMATION

Agroforestry planners will require three general kinds of information: (1) baseline data on renewable natural resource availability, in the context of control and use rules; (2) knowledge of people's attitude toward desirability of managing particular renewable natural resources; and (3) clear and precise understanding of factors constraining management of these resources. State-of-the-art technical information on production levels associated with realistic alternative mixes of trees, agricultural crops, and livestock is necessary, in turn, to match with the on-site baseline data sets.


Baseline Data

Human activity is almost always patterned and takes place in special, channeled ways in particular settings. Planners need to build up detailed descriptions--word and number pictures--of what people are doing with resources and how they are doing it, so they can analyze trends in resource use with confidence and sophistication.

A number of general topics must be covered concerning each resource if the global picture regarding trees, pastures, or soils--or interactions between these and other renewable resources--is to be meaningful and accurate. In general, the following areas must be covered (in some situations, supplemental information on other topics will be indispensable):

1. Current availability of renewable natural resources by district within the country. Of particular importance in the context of agroforestry projects will be information on condition of the woodstock (all ligneous plants, from small bushes to trees). Pasture' soil, water, and human food supply conditions must also be investigated.

2. Probable evolution of supply and demand situation for each resource in surplus, equilibrium, and deficit areas.

3. Identity and nature of user communities exploiting each renewable resource.

4. Benefits--both non consumptive (for example, trees for environmental stabilization, enclosure, and soil regeneration) and consumptive (for example, wood for fuel and construction materials)--that users derive from renewable resources.

5. Existing management efforts designed to maintain or enhance resource availability, be they private, local, and indigenous, or external, government/donor-sponsored attempts.

6. Terms and conditions of access to and exploitation of renewable resources both within and outside of management districts. These are often heavily influenced by:

a. Formal rules--laws, administrative decrees, resource use codes, association statutes, or "customary laws," and the like, which bear on control and use of renewable natural resources.

b. Effective rules--determined by decisions of enforcing officials and judicial authorities, concerning application of formal rules to real instances of trouble and disputes (Thomson 1977, and literature cited there by Commons, and Llewellyn and Hoebel).

Note that the effective rules may be the same as formal rules; they may also diverge in small or large ways, depending on the extent to which enforcers and Judicial officials enjoy leeway to determine, in individual incidents, what the real law will be for that dispute. In the final analysis, effective rules control and guide conduct: individuals make calculations regarding resource use based mainly on what they think will happen if a dispute arises, and less on terms of formal, paper rules.

Note further that "no rule" is still a rule; for example, a forestry code may precisely define, on paper, terms of lawful access to certain tree species, but the code provisions may never be enforced in some areas. In such circumstances, the rule of access is generally "first come, first served," which implies that nothing will constrain resource use short of full exhaustion of supplies. (In surplus supply situations, this may well be the most appropriate--"reasonable and efficient"resource use rule.)

Information on these points should be collected whenever and wherever efforts at resource management are to be mounted. In Sahelian agroforestry programs, as noted, five types of renewable resources appear of prime importance:

1. Woodstock
2. Pastures
3. Soils
4. Water
5. Human food supplies

The assessment schema outlined above will be briefly illustrated using an analysis of woodstock conditions; it can be similarly applied to the other renewable resources.


Woodstock Assessment: An Illustration

Basic woodstock ecological sub-areas within the country must be identified as a preliminary step. These sub-areas might include places where bush cover still predominates, regions of interspersed fields and fallows, permanent agriculture under a tree canopy of species such as Acacia albida or Butyrospermum paradoxum, and areas of substantial deforestation.

Quality and quantity of remaining wood supplies, as well as the kinds of pressures to which they are subjected (local and distant demand for firewood and building poles, cutting for fodder and fencing, and so forth), must then be precisely described. This information, combined with demand projections from current consumption levels and population growth rates, will permit assessment of probable future deficit areas. (Such projections, however, do not alone Justify siting projects in probable deficit areas.)

User communities should be carefully canvassed about the benefits they derive from the woodstock. On-site uses may include soil regeneration and/or stabilization, erosion control and fencing, and consumptive uses of products such as fuel, building materials, food crops, medicines, and fencing. These data can be particularly helpful at the design stage if they reveal hitherto neglected bargaining counters to promote conservation and resource management.

Within each ecological sub-area, data should be gathered on efforts to increase the woodstock in any of the following ways:

1. Industrial plantations
2. Community woodlots
3. Individual or family woodlots, or scatter-site, in-field plantings
4. Shelterbelts, live fencing, dune stabilization, gully control
5. Managing natural regeneration (either for on-site or consumptive uses)

In each instance, accurate, detailed information about sponsorship, initiation, management, and implementation of such efforts will reveal the range of existing agroforestry activities and possible pitfalls of different approaches.

Finally, the working rules of resource use should be identified. IS there a forestry code? To what extent does it control access in a formal sense, and how is it applied in fact, by area? Where an existing code is irrelevant, because it is not enforced, what are the local rules governing tree tenure or property rights regarding trees? Through what means can they be enforced? Detailed information of this sort promotes real understanding, both of peoples' attitudes toward resource management and of the hurdles they may perceive in various management schemes.


Popular Interest in Resource Management

Popular willingness to invest time, energy, goods, and money in renewable resource management critically conditions feasibility of participatory resource management schemes. Villagers with little practical experience in working together toward common goals over long periods of time will likely have trouble managing a village woodlot held in common. Those accustomed to sustained collective action may reject a program focused on improving individual farmers' resource management capabilities. Planners and designers thus need to spend time finding out how people organize to do things in the area of resource management.

A healthy dose of skepticism is in order when assessing villagers' initial answers to the question, "How would you like to manage resource X?" Village spokesmen may know that current government policy emphasizes a particular format or way of working, for example, "collective action," "individual initiative," "youth groups," "cooperatives," or "the Party." Chances are good that villagers will "want" to manage resources in the preferred manner, if only to avoid antagonizing government officials in the short run. If the opening question runs, "Do you villagers want to organize a collective woodlot?" any collective orientation villagers may express must be viewed even more skeptically, since they will assume the government's preferred format has been stated in the question itself. Even rephrasing the question to a simple, neutral inquiry about the villagers' interest in managing resources at all may not escape biased replies if spokesmen know there is a push on to promote reforestation, for example.

To penetrate this frequently encountered protective smokescreen of politically conditioned responses and get to the realities of village organization, the investigator needs to find out how people carry out other activities. Is farming--usually the fundamental activity in Sahelian rural communities--largely an individually run activity? If there are cooperatives, how well do they function? If trees have been planted in the village, or terraces built on village fields, or if other forms of resource management have been attempted, how were those efforts undertaken? Were they done collectively or individually or by families who owned the property? What was the impetus for the action? Did individuals or some sort of collective group in the village decide, perhaps after consultation with outsiders, that they wanted to start something in the realm of resource management; or did woodlots or rock dams or windbreaks result from a government program imposed on villagers, or from inducement provided by a donor-financed or private voluntary organization project?

Once the general nature of resource management activities is clear, designers will have an easier time assessing feasibility of different organizational approaches to resource management. They should be able to discount the facade of politically structured responses and, through careful examination of real activities, arrive at a general sense of what will and what will not work in a community.

Investigators, however, should be wary of concluding, from collective or individual activities in areas other than resource management, that the same orientations will automatically carry over into the resource realm. Particularly if resource management has no prominent place in local traditional activities, it would be wise to adopt a frankly experimental orientation to the problem of organization and encourage villagers to try a variety of approaches, each individual or group doing more or less as he, she, or they see fit. It may also turn out that villagers are willing to manage resources, but only when the task is imposed upon them, and when state officials shoulder the burden of making sure each villager does his or her share. (For an enlightening discussion of this type of problem in the context of land reform efforts, see Popkin 1979:50-51, and literature cited there.) Where this is the case, resource management operations will be limited by the size of the civil service contingent that can be detached for such activities.


Constraints on Participatory Resource Management

Five general categories of constraints may impinge on resource management efforts: technical, economic, financial, legal, and political. (Thomson 1981:125-48, presents a more detailed formulation and illustrations of these constraints.) Each will be examined and briefly illustrated by examples from the area of woodstock management.

Technical constraints may inhere both in the environment and in the particular species of trees or shrubs selected for use in reforestation activities. In the Sahel, seedlings must be able to survive in the face of harsh temperatures, irregular rainfall, and frequently poor soils (unless special arrangements can be made to irrigate young plants). Some species, particularly among the exotics, simply cannot survive under Sahelian conditions. They can be planted; but as hundreds of stunted or failed Azadirachta indica (neem) plantations attest, they will not necessarily prosper. In other cases, seeds or seedlings of appropriate species may not be available at the right time. Inadequate seed collection or production capacities may explain this and may be remedied with relative ease, but the constraint nonetheless often exists. Finally, genetically improved local species are not yet available. If the local species' hardiness can be coupled with improved growth rates and production of subsidiary forest products, popular interest in reforestation may well pick up noticeably.

For many Sahelians, the idea of planting trees at present raises as many problems as it solves. In certain cultures and agricultural settings, farmers view trees with disfavor as unwelcome competition. Villagers may not yet grasp the full range of values that shelterbelts or live fencing can provide, although in many areas a very clear perception of the usefulness of certain trees has existed for a long time. The extent to which Acacia albida and Butyrospermum paradoxum have been promoted by rural people proves the point. Adansonia digitata, Parkia clappertoniana, and other species have also been widely cultured by Sahelians interested in their fruits and other by-products.

Finally, popular ignorance of silviculture operates in many places as a factor constraining investment in renewing woodstocks. Many Sahelians have much to learn about seed preparation methods, nursery techniques, and methods and timing of planting. Some would also benefit greatly, as would experts, from clearer appreciation of the values of certain local species, best forms of association with crops and pasturelands, low-cost methods of promoting natural regeneration, and the like. Popular education in silviculture has become indispensable, as an important key to more intensive management of Sahelian woodstocks. The extent to which many Sahelian cultures relied, until recently, largely on passive investment in woodstock management, through systems of bush fallowing or shifting cultivation, makes this educational undertaking doubly pressing. The woodstock was allowed to take care of itself, under conditions where it was rarely overexploited; in most places, it regenerated admirably on the strength of almost entirely natural processes. Now, however, changing land/man ratios impose the necessity for intensified silviculture. Drastic reduction of bush areas, particularly when accompanied by severe, localized environmental degradation, has sapped the efficacy of many passive regeneration techniques. Rural dwellers in many places must now master new techniques if they are to survive in their present habitats.

Economic constraints revolve around the question of profitability of proposed improvement schemes. If farmers and herders can demonstrate to their own satisfaction that investment in reforestation will pay off, they can be expected to show more interest in the matter. In much of the Sahel, active reforestation is, for all practical purposes, a new idea. It has arisen only with the sharply decreased availability of firewood supply--a recent phenomenon in many rural areas (and not as yet a universal one). But examples already exist of individuals making money through investment in wood production for market, and more are developing each year. This orientation will take time, but sharply increasing prices of forest products throughout the Sahel guarantee that activities that were irrelevant 10 years ago, when wood supplies remained adequate in most places, will rapidly take on increased importance. It is critical to capitalize on this rising current of popular interest, by putting practical technical and economic solutions at people's disposal.

The development of markets for various kinds of wood, and price increases that annually outstrip inflation (Club du Sahel 1981, 1982a, 1982b; Winterbottom 1980), have convinced many Sahelians that they must provide for their own consumptive needs on a systematic basis. The impetus to learn tree-raising techniques sharpens as wood supplies dwindle and demand escalates with growing populations. To the extent that technical innovations or newly acquired silvicultural skills lower costs to rural people of investing in new increments of wood supply (family or community woodlots, natural regeneration in the fields, and so forth), multiplication of reforestation activities at the local level throughout the Sahel become possible and indeed probable.

Financial constraints depend mainly on the cost of reforestation rocesses. Land, labor, and materials may all be scarce items in different Sahelian settings, particularly where intensifying population pressure has confirmed labor migration as a standard response to food shortages. Reforestation techniques that demand a substantial labor component may be beyond the capacity of local communities to provide when able-bodied young people have gone elsewhere in search of work. Complicating the problem are traditional labor bottlenecks during the rainy season, when many critical reforestation actions must succeed each other in timely fashion.

Evolving popular mastery of silvicultural techniques, as well as improvement in techniques themselves, may eventually alleviate if not fully resolve these problems. Anything that shifts the burden of investment in reforestation from the rainy to the dry season seems positive in this regard. Promoting natural regeneration appears especially promising here.

Inadequate credit arrangements may also hinder popular reforestation attempts. Manufactured fencing materials such as barbed wire, chicken wire, and posts may eventually Justify initial outlays in some circumstances, but most people will remain too poor to envisage such purchases. Subsidized loans and forest product price rises may sharply modify this situation in the medium term, but in the short and long runs, solutions will more likely be found through improvement in live-fencing techniques. This may involve both enhanced popular awareness of the possibilities of live fencing and a greater mastery, at the local level, of nursery techniques. Species that will meet several additional needs, such as human and animal food production, firewood, and building materials, and that will provide fencing and fencing materials in the form of a reliable local source of thorns, ought to facilitate enclosure. At that point, problems of stock control may become somewhat less pressing.

Legal constraints will be embedded in the effective rules, whether these closely reflect formal rule provisions or some quite different local arrangement. Where property relations are ambiguous, either regarding land or tree tenure, investors will be cautious. In the particularly discouraging case of the improperly enforced state forestry code--these codes in the Sahel usually provide for management and control of woodstock use by foresters--trees may be treated as an unmanaged common property resource in which each individual is, in effect, free to take what he wants without fearing that sanctions will be imposed. Under such circumstances, investment in reforestation must strike most rural dwellers as nonsense; they correctly see little probability that they will reap any benefits from their work,

The legal process concerning enforcement of tree-tenure relations is also critical. If "available" recourses, such as finding and informing the roving forester of a code infraction on one's land, are prohibitively expensive, they will not be invoked. If they are not invoked, rules will not be enforced, and common property woodstocks will not be managed.

In each case, however, it is important to identify local working rules governing woodstock use and management, and to do so before attempting to propose projects or programs envisaging investment, in any form, in woodstock management. In areas where a formal forestry code is not applied, local working rules will determine, either actively or passively, how wood is exploited and to some extent whether investment in reforestation is reasonable' (in places where supply remains adequate, investment in new increments will find little favor with rural Sahelians, whom experience has convinced of the virtues of passive management, that is, regular fallowing and nothing more).

Political constraints turn on villagers' or herders' incapacity to control local or outside exploiters of renewable resources and on the inability, widespread in Sahelian states, of local communities both to formulate and modify their own renewable resource management rules in light of changing conditions, and also to enforce them regularly, as a framework for management activities. These problems relate to larger political issues, such as inter-ethnic relations and rural development, which public officials, particularly in francophone areas, have tended to handle until very recently as problems amenable to control only through extension of government networks (for detailed illustrations of these points in the Nigerian context, see Thomson, in press). In very recent years costs of this strategy, and its considerable limitations, have become increasingly apparent to most observers familiar with the reality of government- and donor-financed rural development projects. The growing sense that decentralization must occur, in close association with efforts to enable local communities to deal with such issues as resource management, is certainly promising for future renewable resource management.

In summarizing this section, it must be stressed that information about resource availability by local area, popular attitudes toward management of different resources, locally preferred strategies for managing resources, and social or institutional constraints on management activities is often hard to come by. It is, in other words, high-priced information. Some data will be so expensive as to preclude obtaining them in adequate amounts through donor-financed personnel.

The secondary position is then to create an extension system that uses local peoples' knowledge in these areas to reduce the costs of gathering information. But such participation will not be without cost. It will inevitably complicate and slow planning processes and make implementation of management activities more cumbersome, at least initially. But basing planning and execution on solid, reliable information about local circumstances should make agroforestry programs much more effective over the long run.


AGROFORESTRY EXTENSION

The three types of preliminary information Just discussed--baseline data on renewable natural resource availability, ownership, and use rules; information about popular interest in managing particular resources; and constraints that may complicate management of these resources--will indicate areas where severe environmental degradation has occurred, and where popular management opportunities might be identified and developed. To realize and capitalize on these potential opportunities, a working system of communication with villagers must be established.


Extension System Design Criteria

The term "extension system" may imply to some a one-way, top-down flow of information from experts to farmers and herders. If so, the term is inadequate. In this chapter, "extension system" is defined as a reliable, two-way communication system. Information flowing in both directions will be critical to the process of pinpointing difficulties at all levels in resolving resource management problems: rural dwellers' intimate knowledge of their own microenvironments, as well as experts' knowledge of genetic engineering, plant compatibilities, soil conditions, and resource management techniques that have worked elsewhere, will prove indispensable to effective management efforts.

Messages moving through the extension system must also reflect local people's knowledge of their social, economic, legal, political, and organizational circumstances. These factors have as much to do with environmental stabilization and upgrading as do nursery skills and the latest technical advances. Local people are the ones who can most efficiently calculate what will and what will not work for them in resource management. In exactly the same way, they can best put to the acid field test experimental-station hypotheses and results about appropriate plant associations, resource conservation schemes, planting techniques, and 60 forth. In both the technical and social realms, villagers and pastoralists, because they must grapple with specifics of complex local environments, go beyond the generalizations that often underlie experts management propositions toe test whether an idea or process will work here. If extension systems £unction properly, they will encourage farmers and herders and help them to tailor solutions in light of what they know about limiting factors in their environments. Through such participation, modifications in general formulas necessary to make them effective in a given environment can be introduced.


Existing Extension Possibilities

Content, form, and process will interact in a developing agroforestry extension system. Some information (content) can be transmitted through almost any set of extension institutions; but how valuable that information will appear to clientele, and what use they will make of it, will depend very much on the form of the extension system (its institutional design) and the communication process associated with it.

Program designers can roughly determine fairly early what they want an agroforestry extension system to do. The task can be as simple and specific as "teach people how to plant and care for nursery-raised neem seedlings properly." It can be as complex as the following. First, find out what people are interested in doing, by region (or by district, village, or family). Depending on circumstances, they may want to plant nursery-raised seedlings of various types. They might prefer to learn how to raise seedlings of their own choice. They might want to start at the beginning, by learning how to collect, grade, prepare, and plant seeds. On the other hand, they might like to learn how to intensify production of natural regenerator, or to acquire new soil and water conservation techniques based on agroforestry principles. Once the basic interests of particular groups or individuals have been identified through a careful dialogue, the second step will be to find out, in detail, what they already know about these activities. Third, extension workers can proceed to teach them more of what they want and need to know, while simultaneously making them aware of other possibilities which they can examine for feasibility in light of their knowledge of local conditions. Finally, the extension system should provide materiel back-up for extension activities, whether it be in the form of hand tools, fencing materials, or facilities for regional or local experimental stations, agroforestry resource centers, and so forth. (For a discussion of what such centers might attempt, see National Research Council 1981:87-92. Note that materiel back-up should also be provided to extension workers, in part as encouragement and in part to permit them to do their Job better.)

These kinds of mayor orientations or definitions of extension system goals will then permit designers to move to the next step of evaluating existing extension possibilities. In some settings it may be possible to graft agroforestry extension efforts onto existing communications systems that have been established, for instance, by forestry, agricultural, or livestock agencies, or by individual rural development projects. This would be particularly effective if existing extension workers could receive supplemental training, enabling them to appreciate the complexities of integrated agroforestry systems. To determine whether the use of existing extension systems is advisable in a given place, three questions must be asked concerning communication:

1. What messages are being transmitted by existing systems and in what directions?
2. Row well are they being passed?
3. To what extent can additional messages to farmers and pastoralists be effectively moved through these networks?

Answers to these questions, coupled with data acquired through preliminary investigations outlined above, will suggest whether new information exchange systems focused on promoting agroforestry ought to be created and, if so, where. This will be a very subtle process, particularly where some positive agroforestry programs are already under way. Planners will have to identify target areas on an experimental basis. Choices should reflect the need for resource management, popular demand for information about improved agroforestry methods, and political opportunities in light of other programs already functioning in given Jurisdictions.


Agroforestry Extension Systems

Whether a policy decision is made to work through existing systems or to develop a new set of institutions specifically designed to foster popular agroforestry, it will be important to devise a series of working hypotheses to be tested in experimental and implementation phases. These hypotheses should help program designers, project personnel, and outside evaluators to monitor activities and results and to clarify the value of original formulations. Where correction becomes necessary, modifications in hypotheses should be introduced but in a conscious manner. Projections must be made about how extension tasks can be accomplished, formulated as working hypotheses. It also is necessary to determine to what extent--and by what means of evaluation of results--these hypotheses will be confirmed or rejected.

Several hypotheses are proposed here as possible models to be adopted or adapted by future forestry programs. They also provide a summation of points made in this chapter.

1. Agroforestry extension systems must, to succeed, encourage local people both to implement positive resource management techniques and to experiment with them, using indigenous systems where applicable, and outside expertise or an amalgam of both where such knowledge is appropriate.

2. Systems that provide the greatest increase in resource productivity for a given investment, or a given improvement in resource productivity for the least investment, will be most successful,

a. Most farmers and pastoralists live fairly marginal existences in difficult environments; they can afford only limited investments.

b. If actively promoting natural regenerator of vegetation proves the least expensive approach, it should be explored intensively and extensively.

3. To get wide and in-depth coverage of target populations, extension networks will have to involve farmers and pastoralists as teachers of their fellows. This implies some sort of training program. A CILSS seminar, sponsored by the Agency for International Development, has produced specific recommendations for Sahelian countries and has outlined an agroforestry curriculum. An informal but sustained education program might well be best, if it could be united with some form of regular, ongoing activity.

4. The vehicle that might carry extension messages and information flows from individual field experiments to higher levels and, inversely, might be a mini-nursery program designed to transfer knowledge about nursery techniques to (self-selected) villagers, and through their efforts, to make seedling stock easily available at the local level. If nurserymen were allowed to sell their produce as well as their advice on promoting natural regeneration and other forms of renewable resource management, they would have a constant incentive to perform well in order to attract and hold a clientele.

5. Given the public good expected from effective agroforestry extension work--environmental stabilization or improvement--it would be appropriate to subsidize network members where this proved necessary to keep them operating and moving ahead. Such individuals should not, however, become fully paid state or project employees, since this would reduce their economic incentive to be responsive to their clientele.

6. If extension networks associated with mini-nursery programs could be tied in directly with regional agroforestry "learning and experimental centers," local extension agents would have a point of contact with experts capable of answering their resource management questions either from their own knowledge, or by contacting others who could, or by devising experiments at the center or elsewhere to generate answers.

7. Such a resource management extension system should be designed to produce a continuous flow of feedback to the agroforestry learning and experimental center about local resource management problems, successes, and failures, and to identify the best opportunities by area to develop resource management techniques in light of preliminary information and the outcomes of subsequent activities.