RIPAT Mission

 

RIPAT is an economic development intervention that aims to close the agricultural technology gap as a means of improving livelihoods and self-support among impoverished small-scale farmers. RIPAT applies an agricultural extension approach, which takes its starting point in the fact that one-size does not fit all.  Agricultural extension methods that rely on imposing centrally-based technology solutions have to often failed to produce results. RIPAT can be seen as a pragmatic mix of traditional “top down” and more recent “bottom up” participatory extension approaches, such as Farmer Field Schools. It introduces a varied ‘basket of technology options’ to farmer groups over a three years implementation period, leaving each individual farmer with a genuine possibility of choice as to which technologies to adopt, when and to what extent, depending on his or her needs and resources.  The groups are facilitated to in a way that allows for joint, experiential, participatory learning.

The RIPAT approach relies on three key elements to facilitate project implementation:

 

  • Creation of a vision of a better future through the careful sensitisation of communities to the potential for change and the mobilisation of farmers to take charge of their own development
  • Establishment of farmer groups with good leadership to enable the transfer of appropriate agricultural technologies through participatory demonstrations using experimental and reflective learning techniques
  • Close and formalized collaboration with local government authorities, village leaders and government agricultural extension officers to ensure the continuation of the project and further spreading to the wider community

Help to self-help

A typical RIPAT project targets eight villages; two groups are established in each village, each group being made up of 30-35 farmers – typically selected from the ‘lower middle class’ in the community. All the technologies are conveyed using a help to self-help approach. RIPAT aims to avoid disruptive donor dependency, and therefore the project does not provide free gifts or hand-outs. The acceptance by farmers of the idea that they will have to pay for inputs, and the obligation placed on them to redistribute planting materials and livestock offspring to others in the village, both promote a sense of project ownership and an understanding of the concept of help to self-help.

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