Soils, Food and Healthy Communities

Soils, Food and Healthy Communities

Farmer Research Team (FRT)

The project relies heavily on the involvement of FRT which is a volunteer, farmer led organization formed at the start of the project to conduct research and share knowledge on behalf of and with the community. The FRT is based on the participatory model in which small farmer groups carry out research for broader community (Ashby and Sperling, 1995). Village leaders told their communities about the project and villagers could volunteer to be FRT members, but had to be voted in by their community. The project began with 30 Farmer Research Members in seven pilot villages, but due to the increase in farmer participants and the expansion to over 80 villages, there are now 120 members in the FRT. Villagers voted to select FRT members based on leadership ability and willingness to volunteer time to help others, as well as based on general interest in the project objectives. The FRT is composed of a variety of different social groups (e.g. widows, divorced women, highly food insecure and well-off farmers). More than 50% of FRT members are women. FRT members have a critical role to play; they are involved in farmer training, seed distribution, data collection and awareness raising. They are also expected to provide informal support to SFHC participants in agricultural and nutritional issues related to legume production. FRT has proved to be effective at involving farmers in the agricultural research process.