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Building Technical Capacities

Technology justice, ensuring appropriate technologies for sustainable agricultural production are accessible to all, is at the heart of Practical Action's work. We define technologies as skills and knowledge, physical hardware such as tools or water points, and the way they are organised, used and controlled. Building technical capacities involves helping farmers to overcome the physical and environmental constraints of fragile areas, improve productivity and incomes and adapt to climate change.

Appropriate technologies are those which are cost effective for small-scale producers that are viable for long term sustainable use and management by them. Technology choice is also an issue as local technologies may be threatened by new technologies where communities do not have the capacity to access them and make informed decisions about adoption or rejection. Practical action aims to influence donors and governments with the message that investment in a limited range of high cost, and often high risk agricultural technologies distracts attention away from the underlying causes of poverty and distorts resources away from more accessible technology approaches that help poorer people to take control of their future.

By building technical capabilities Practical Action enables small scale producers to access appropriate technologies by building on local knowledge to strengthen existing technologies and helping farmers to access and adapt introduced technologies through a process of Participatory Technology Development. The training of community based extensionists are also integral to Practical Action’s strategies and they focus on linkages with government agencies, researchers and other relevant sources of knowledge to ensure sustainable long term access to technologies and advice.

In Sudan Practical Action worked with farmers and blacksmiths to adapt an existing camel plough to better suit the needs of the poor who only had access to donkeys. This resulted in a donkey plough that was low cost and therefore affordable for small scale farmers. Read More... 

In Bangladesh floating gardens used elsewhere in the country were promoted for landless or flood affected households, these gardens grew on top of water hyacinths made into rafts and filled with compost to grow vegetables during the flood season. Read More....

For Practical Action's extension review documents on our extension work in Sudan, Peru, Kenya and Bangladesh, please see our agricultural extension key documents here.

Case Studies

An overview of our community-based extension work

Community based extension involves training community representatives to support farmers with advice, services and inputs on an on-going basis.

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The Kamayoq extensionists in Peru

In the Cuzco region of Peru, Practical Action has trained community based extensionists, known locally as Kamayoq, since 1997 to support fellow farmers and their communities to fill the gap in public extension services.

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Building Capacities Through Animal Welfare in Kenya

In the pastoralist district of Mandera in Northern Kenya, donkeys play an essential part of people’s livelihoods. They are essential in pulling carts to markets, to go and collect water many miles away, collect firewood and are crucial in the thriving trade between Kenya, Somalia and Eth...

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Participatory Technology Development: Farmer Field Schools in Nepal

Participatory technology development is an approach that promotes farmer driven technology innovation through participatory processes and skills building involving experimentation to allow small scale farmers to make better choices about available technologies. These innovations could be in im...

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Community-based animal health workers (para-vets)

Para-vets are community based animal health workers. In Kenya, they have served to fill a large gap in extension services and have enabled more people to access vital information and services to protect their livestock.

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Increasing Mobility

In Nepal, remote communities are often cut off from local markets due to the steep terrain making journeys difficult and lengthy. As part of the ‘Access to Opportunities’ Project, Practical Action installed a gravity ropeway which has helped improve access to local markets and esse...

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Building Adaptive Capacities for farmers in Peru

In Peru, Practical Action is at the forefront of helping people to adjust to the increasing threat from climate change. We are implementing projects that are helping communities in some of the poorest rural areas of the country to deal with the most frequent disaster risks and hazards. The reg...

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Rural Technology Extensionists in Bangladesh

From 2005 until 2009 Practical Action carried out a food and nutritional security project for resource poor farmers in Jamalpur and Faridpur Districts in Bangladesh (the FoSHoL Project). As part of this project 751 rural technology extensionists were trained as ambassadors for their local ...

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