Technological innovation in the small farm sector of developing countries is one of the key mechanisms for poverty reduction and food security.
Unfortunately, many agricultural technologies developed in the past were not widely adopted. This has been due to institutional constraints, including weak agricultural extension systems that hardly reach smallholder farmers. As a result, productivity among smallholders remains low, subsistence orientation high, along with household vulnerability to poverty and malnutrition.
The needs for better technologies for smallholder farmers have since long been recognized by the international community. Significant investments have been made over time to develop new technologies. However, less effort has been dedicated to the question of how to transfer these new technologies successfully and cost-effectively to smallholder farmers, so that they can contribute to actual poverty reduction and sustainable agricultural development. Knowledge is not pursued or available to shape appropriate designs and create models of technology transfer under various conditions.
“Mind the Gap” is a project implemented by ICARDA in Central Tunisia with the financial support of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development in Germany. This project is includes activities in the Governorates of Zaghouan and Kairouan, where a production system based on barley and livestock is predominant.
By using the Randomized Control Trials approach, the project tries to find out which agricultural extension design favors most the adoption of the new barley variety Kounouz within smallholder farmers. The trials involved 560 smallholder farmers, divided in four treatment groups of 140, who are part of the research project. A control group of 140 farmers did not benefit from any extension sessions related to the new barley variety.
[Photo by Ossa90 | Wikimedia]