Reports on the IPCA project that has been monitoring the development of local agricultural research committees (CIALs) in Honduras for the past five years. This paper presents the results of the evaluation to date and considers these in light of current debates around farmer participatory research.
The Conclusions are:
teaching formal research methods to poor hillside farmers is viable and has served to link farmers to formal-sector researchers in innovative technology development programmes that directly meet users’ needs
farmers have not only benefited through access to new technologies, but they have also learnt new ways to manage their environments and have been empowered in the process
However, evaluation of the project has shown that unless research has relatively short-term payoffs, farmers are apt to lose interest. Thus, complex research (in particular research involving natural resource management) needs to be framed within the context of social programmes that can provide more immediate benefit to farmers. Technology-led development must be supported by other development initiatives that aim to build social capital as widely as possible across the community.