This paper constitutes a formative look at how local knowledge and western science, both social and natural, might be integrated for the benefit of smallholder agriculture in developing countries. The question addressed is: How can research and extension be more responsive to the needs of local farmers and what are some possible elements of a responsive approach? A comparison of local knowledge and western science is given. Constructivist, experiential learning approaches such as Participatory Technology Development (PTD), Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA), Farmer Field School (FFS) and Promoting Farmer Innovation (PFI) that use the farm as a learning system and farmer-driven on-farm trials are among the qualitative and quantitative methodologies that can contribute to the knowledge and needs of researchers, extensionists and farmers. Using case studies from East and West Africa and a review of the literature, this paper addresses issues related to strengthening effective linkages between farmers, extension professionals and researchers.

Keywords: Experiential Learning, Farmer-Extension-Research Linkage, Local Knowledge, Participatory Technology Development


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