Tropical Grasslands (2003) Volume 37, 197–203

Forage technology adoption: linking on-station research with participatory methods

M. PETERS and C.E. LASCANO

CIAT (Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical), Cali, Colombia

Abstract

Improved forages play an important role in sustaining the livelihoods of small- and medium-scale farmers in the tropics, mainly as a result of their positive effects on livestock production and contribution to economic and environmental sustainability. However, in many regions of the tropics, the potential of forages for sustainable development is largely untapped and adoption of forage legumes in particular has so far been limited. In general, compared with forage legumes, grasses are often better known as cultivated species by farmers, are more resilient and have broad environmental adaptation. Currently, farmers have limited understanding of the benefits of leguminous species that can be used on their farms.
This paper explores reasons for the lack of wider adoption of improved forages and suggests pathways and strategies to meet the needs of smallholder farmers more effectively. Close linkages between farmers, researchers and extension workers are essential for both the development and diffusion of improved multipurpose grass and legume species. In this context, the importance of developing functional seed-delivery systems is emphasised. However, continuous development of forage germplasm to respond to existing and evolving constraints and changing demands and opportunities is mandatory to ensure wide adoption of improved forages by smallholder farmers.

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