Green extension practitioner’s workshop: Capitalisation of experience on the promotion of sustainable agriculture
Organised by DTEAP and PAFO Xieng Khouang, with support of LURAS and FAO
27 February to 1 March 2018, Phonsavanh, Xiengkhuang
The Government has emphasised the importance of green development in the 8th National Economic and Social Development Plan. At the sectoral level, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry is committed to “developing clean, safe and sustainable agriculture” as part of the approved strategy to 2025.
Various forms of sustainable agriculture have been promoted in Laos for more than 30 years. Organic farming, integrated pest management, the system of rice intensification, conservation agriculture and agro-forestry have all received the support of government agencies and development partners.
Sustainable agricultural practices must be adapted to local conditions which – in the uplands of Laos – are highly diverse. Therefore extension for sustainable agriculture has to support farmers in analysing local opportunities and testing alternative practices under local conditions. General recommendations are of limited use under these conditions. In short, the scaling up of sustainable agriculture requires that attention is given not only to what farmers learn, but also to how they learn.
‘Green extension’ is the name we are now giving to learning processes that support the scaling up of sustainable agriculture practices.
Green extension involves a basket of methods, not a single blueprint. Based on the experience of past and on-going projects, however, it is possible to identify a set of guiding principles for Green Extension and some common challenges.
The Practitioner’s Workshop to be held in Xieng Khouang Province will bring together field staff from Government, NGOs and development projects who have all been involved in promoting sustainable agriculture. They will share and analyse their experience over a 3-day period to identify lessons on what works, and what doesn’t. The outcomes of the workshop will subsequently be shared with programme planners and project managers at the national level.
Principles for Green Extension
Five principles for promoting sustainable agriculture were identified during preliminary discussions between staff of DTEAP and PAFO. These five principles will be used to structure the first day of the workshop.
- Principle 1 – Participatory agro-ecosystem analysis: rural families take stock of available resources
- Principle 2 – Community analysis of opportunities and constraints: agreement is reached on priorities for innovation
- Principle 3 – Action research: innovations are piloted, including comparison of alternatives, with communities collecting data and analysing results
- Principle 4 – Farmer-to-farmer learning: experience is shared among different households and communities
- Principle 5 – Organisational development: informal networks and/or formal groups are created to sustain and scale up innovative practices
Each principle will be illustrated through a presentation by a different project, after which participants will analyse a number of issues relating to each principle.
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