ELEVENTH REGIONAL CONFERENCE
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE
SOUTHERN AND EASTERN AFRICAN ASSOCIATION FOR FARMING SYSTEMS
farming systems approach to technology development and transfer
was introduced in response to the low level of adoption of new
agricultural technologies and practices by the smallholder
resource poor families around the world. Further investigation
into this low level of adoption revealed that the majority of
these technologies and approaches were inappropriate and not
compatible with smallholder farming systems and their
primary objective of farming systems research and extension
(FSR-E) is to improve the well-being of farm families by
increasing the production and productivity of the farm and
farmers’ resources. FSR-E, thus, aims to support the farm
household to achieve a range of private and social goals within
the constraints and opportunities conditioned by the natural,
biological, socio-economic, technical, and human elements which
determine the existing smallholder farming system.
networks were initiated in Africa, Asia, and Latin America in the
mid-seventies. FSR-E techniques and procedures have since brought
a new meaning to farmer participation in agricultural technology
development and delivery systems. The principles of FSR-E are
being recognized and subscribed to globally by international
development agencies and have indeed acquired a prominent place in
a number of national agricultural research systems in various
countries in Southern and Eastern Africa.
first, provides an approach for understanding the farmers’
constraints and challenges and how they deal with them. This
understanding makes the research efforts more relevant and
focused, resulting in appropriate technologies to suit the needs
and circumstances of the farmers. While there is variation in
FSR-E methodologies, they all involve knowing and understanding
the farmer and his/her farming system, utilizing systems
understanding in the design of technologies for development,
testing the technologies under farmers’ environment, and
evaluating technologies using farmer criteria. Thus, FSR-E is
client driven (demand driven), explicitly considers the systems
interactions, and puts the farmer at the centre of the process.
FSR-E requires the full participation of the farmer, based not
only on empathy and appreciation of his/her constraints but also
on the respect for farmer knowledge and his/her ability as a
manager to make rational decisions which often involve compromises
in the best interest of the welfare of the farm family.
participation in technology development and transfer leads to
improved adoption of new technologies. Adoption is defined as the
farmers’ utilization of the new technologies on a
significant and sustained scale. The simple existence of an
improved technology does not constitute adoption, and the
technology adoption process is not complete until there is
significant and sustained use of the improved technology by the
target group of farmers. The FSR-E procedure recognizes the
step-wise adoption by smallholder farmers. The term agriculture is
also viewed within a wider context to include not only crops and
animals but also natural resources and other crosscutting issues
to these systems.
Southern and Eastern African Association of Farming Systems
Research and Extension (SEAAFSRE) for development, as it exists
today, came into existence in 1999 as a result of a merger between
previously separate sub-regional associations – the Southern
African Association of Farming Systems Research and Extension
(SAAFSRE) and Eastern African Association of Farming Systems
Research and Extension (EAAFSRE). SAAFSRE and EAAFSRE were formed
in 1992 and 1994, respectively.
is a network of persons who are willing to contribute, exchange
and disseminate information on FSR-E in the sub-region with a view
to increasing the productivity and welfare of the rural
population. Its members are registered as individuals and not as
representatives of any organization, institution or country. No
geographic borders or qualifying criteria are established and
anyone anywhere who is interested in promoting the FSR-E in
Southern and Eastern Africa may become a member. SEAAFSRE is
registered as a professional association in Swaziland and is one
of seven regional associations constituting the International
Farming Systems Association (IFSA).
Association aims to:
agricultural and rural development in Southern and Eastern Africa
by promoting the development of knowledge and expertise in the
field of FSR-E for development.
and dissemination of FSR-E information in Southern and Eastern
Africa by facilitating, stimulating, and supporting interaction
between FSR-E practitioners and users through efficient
sustainable agricultural and rural development by introducing
appropriate technological innovations, and by encouraging the
development of supportive policies, institutions and
infrastructure to promote the adoption of such innovations.
Play a catalytic
role in the development of national strategies and in the
facilitation of the institutionalization of the FSR-E procedures
and training within the region.
with the FSR-E practitioners and other related initiatives other
parts of the world.
The Association’s main assets
are its dedicated and enthusiastic members and council and its
supportive patrons. In pursuit of improved farm productivity and
welfare, the FSR-E promotes its activities through:
FSR-E Southern and Eastern Africa network newsletter; bulletin,
members directory and also plans to publish a journal in future.
supporting conferences, seminars, and workshops to build
capacity, provide the necessary linkages, and facilitate FSR-E
meetings of the Association.
resources for the functioning of the Association are generated
from membership fees and organizations interested in enhancing the
quality of life in rural areas by the bringing about agricultural
and rural development, using the FSR-E approach.
organizes and holds biannual conferences on a rotational basis
within the region. The conferences provide an excellent platform
for practitioners to share their experiences and also enhance
their professional growth. Up to 1999, the conferences where held
annually. To date, the Association has held ten conferences in
Swaziland (1993), Namibia (1994), Zimbabwe (1995), Tanzania
(1996), Zambia (1997), South Africa (1998), Botswana (1999),
Kenya (2001), Uganda (2003), and Malawi (2005.
very successfully hosted the 15th AFSRE (current IFSA) global
symposium focusing on "Rural Livelihoods, Empowerment and
Environment: Going beyond the farm boundaries" in South
Africa in December 1998. The symposium was attended by well over
six hundred FSR-E professionals from around the world.
has a dedicated membership of more than 500 individuals from
academic, community, public, and private sectors in Southern and
Eastern Africa. This number is growing as more individuals become
acquainted with the association, its objectives, accomplishments,
and ideals for the future. The enthusiasm generated by FSR-E even
amongst persons who had little or no knowledge of it before, has
been a major achievement. The number of people who have become
interested, their diverse backgrounds and wide geographic
distribution has been beyond any original expectations. They are
united by the common goal to enhance the quality of life of rural
populations by using the FSR-E approach as a vehicle to achieve
At its 1996
Conference in Arusha, the Association brought up the idea of
documenting experiences on the approach to assist countries in
adopting the approach. This lead to a set of studies that
resulted in a book on the ‘Institutionalization of farming
Systems Approach in Eastern and Southern Africa’ edited by
Ponniah Anandajayasekeram and Ted Stilwell and published in 1998.
farming systems research and extension approach has since been
adopted at policy level by most countries in the region although
its implementation has been adapted to suit different structures
and circumstances in the respective countries. The approach is
also widely taught in agricultural colleges and universities in
the region. The FSR-E movement has, therefore, contributed
significantly to the development of participatory methods in
agricultural research and development. The Association and its
members have contributed significantly to this
institutionalization process .
SEAAFSRE is an
active constituent member of the International Farming Systems
Association (IFSA) with which it is in productive engagement.
Based on the constitutional amendments made during the 1998
Pretoria Symposium the Regional Associations are the sole members
of the International Association. Individuals will be members of
the International Association through their membership of a
also assisted in establishing national/country chapters.
Individuals were identified as national contact points to
disseminate information. In some countries, e.g., Tanzania and
Zambia, the country chapters played a significant role in
supporting the national level FSR-E activities. Members of the
association also actively participated in training the younger
research and extension practitioners in their own countries.
recently, SEAAFSR-E produced a newsletter distributed to its
members as well as a further 400 individuals and
in the region have benefited from nearly two decades of training
in farming systems research and extension which helped to improve
the skills and raise the profile of the approach in the region.
The region now has expertise and human capital that could benefit
SEAAFSRE is ready to participate in any meaningful way in support
of the development and promotion of farming systems research and
extension approach throughout the continent.
has shareable experience as a professional association including
on matters ranging from organizational issues,
methodological development, facilitation of professional growth,
to lobbying and policy influence.
Maxwell Mudhara, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jeff Mutimba, e-mail: email@example.com
Charles Masangano, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ponniah Anandajayasekeram, e-mail: email@example.com
IN EXTENSION AND ADVISORY SERVICES ~ NIAROBI 15-18 11 2011
DECLARATION ON AGRICULTURAL EXTENSION AND ADVISORY SERVICES
OF SCIENCES, A KEY TO AGRICULTURAL INNOVATION IN WEST AFRICA
FOR PAPER ABSTRACTS FOR THE INTERNATIONAL FARMING SYSTEMS
ASSOCIATION (IFSA) SYMPOSIUM JULY 1-4, 2012 IN AARHUS, DENMARK