PICOTEAM is a network-organisation with nodes in Africa, Latin America and Europe
that supports efforts to bring about change and innovations for sustainable development.
Experiences in AFRICA
|Supporting research and extension to becoming more smallholder farmer oriented in South Africa||PICOTEAM supported the reorientation research and extension to be more oriented towards smallholder farmer needs through the conservation farming activities of the GTZ supported project BASED The main objective was to strengthen (add value to) the soil and water conservation (SWC) aspects of the BASED project. Focus was on areas that the project and its initial range of partners were not strongly focusing on. To this end specific activity related to conservation agriculture were identified and they included: development of SWC options and the development and improvement to access of conservation tillage implements.
Implementation of the activities through PICO facilitation was based on the concept of partnership of a wide range of stakeholders that included: the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) Institute Silverton, University of the North, University of Venda, Implements manufacturers (Zimplow and Hasste), Implements and parts distributors (Premjee and sons, Limpopo wholesalers), Limpopo department of Agriculture (engineering directorate) and tractor owners. A key component of the partnership was the relationship between farmers and extension staff. The initiative encouraged farmers to be active partners in the process of technology development.
Through the active involvement of farmers and taking into consideration of the diverse needs of the farmers, a wide range of technologies were tested and developed. The broad range of technologies developed was also widely disseminated through farmers` sharing of the innovations they were trying out on their own. The options tried by farmers included: stone bunds for erosion control, sand bags for rill reclamation, maize stover for rill reclamation, goose grass for erosion control, vertiver grass for erosion control, napier grass for erosion control, tree trunks for gully erosion control, infiltration pits for water conservation, grass strips for erosion control and sugar cane for gully erosion control.
In pursuant of the objective; appropriate animal and tractor conservation tillage (CT) implements were identified/adapted and available, collaboration between the BASED project and the Institute of Agricultural Engineering of the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) was strengthened through the facilitation of PICOTEAM members. PICO facilitated the definition of roles and responsibilities and also made available the technical expertise on conservation tillage implements development. Development of a tractor drawn ripper planter was facilitated. A tractor drawn ripper planter was tested by farmers working with the BASED project and they identified a number of problems, advantages and disadvantages of the implement. Researchers worked on the problems and a course for tractor drivers was also facilitated. In the second season the implement was again tested on-station at the University of the North and on-farm. Farmers noted improvements but suggested further adjustments for improved performance. The process continued until the tractor drawn ripper planter was ready for production.
A number of animal drawn conservation tillage implements were developed with farmers in this initiative.
Agricultural Research Council (ARC) Institute Silverton, University of the North, University of Venda, Implements manufacturers (Zimplow and Hasste), Implements and parts distributors (Premjee and sons, Limpopo wholesalers), Limpopo department of Agriculture (engineering directorate) and tractor owners