Prospects of lead farmer concept for improved livestock development among rural communities in Malawi

Aston Oliver Mulwafu and Jayasree Krishnankutty


The growing challenge in the developing countries in undertaking development programmes is lack of consistent and proper implementation strategies. A host of programs aimed at fostering agricultural growth have been implemented over the decades but most have reported limited long term impact. The evaluation reports for some projects fail to justify the poor results, sometimes leaving the burden of blame on the resource poor farmers. Malawi is a country in Africa where agriculture sector employs over 85% of the rural population and accounts for 35–40% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) which contributes over 90% to total export earnings (GoM, 2007). Livestock industry has not been fully exploited as is evident from its contribution of only 8% to the GDP. The lead farmers’ concept demonstrates the capacity of farmers in achieving remarkable results by diversifying agricultural production and improving their livelihoods. Lead farmers provide a focal point for articulation of specific technology, farmer capacity building and entry point for service providers. The lead farmer concept along with the one-to-one approach in diffusion of the technological interventions has met with substantial success at the grassroots level extension. The concept has been tried and produced desired outcomes in intensive livestock development activities. In particular, production of goats which are easy- to- raise animals has performed extremely well among targeted farmers. After a period of nearly 2 years, hybrid goat population had increased to 1,422 (76% nanny goats) from the initial support of 675 goats reaching over 220 households. A total of 74 secondary beneficiaries had received from the primary beneficiaries accessed through one to one pass-on initiatives with 24 tertiary beneficiaries reported. Farmers have realized increased income sources from goat sales and by-products such as droppings converted to organic fertilizers for crop production. The overall picture drawn indicates the immense potential of lead farmer concept along with one-to-one diffusion approach in livestock development leading to improved rural livelihoods. The implementation strategy, proper capacity building and farmer involvement is central towards the overall success of the interventions

Keyword: Lead farmers, livestock p

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