Farmer Experimentation and Innovation

A case study of knowledge generation processes in agroforestry systems in Rwanda

Table of Contents

by Christoffel den Biggelaar

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Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
FAO 1996

Table of Contents


Author's Note

Executive Summary

Chapter 1



Description of Rwanda

History of tree growing practices in Rwanda

Research questions

Overview of the case study

Chapter 2


Choice of study area

Selection and training of research assistants

Sample selection

Biographical case studies on the history of agroforestry

Participant observation and guided farm tours

Socio-economic characteristics of tree experts and comparison farmers

Focus group interviews

Chapter 3

Characteristics of the Study Areas



Land and tree tenure

Chapter 4

Socio-economic Differences Between flee Experts

Demographic characteristics


Employment and community functions

Resources: farm labour

Resources: land

Resources: animals

Chapter 5

Farmers' Perspectives on Indigenous Agroforestry Practices

Agroforestry: historical and contemporary viewpoints

Reasons for practising agroforestry

Tree planting and gender

Tree planting possibilities in relation to farm size

The future of farming and agroforestry: solutions proposed by the audience

Potential locations of trees within the farm

Species diversity in indigenous agroforestry systems

Farm size, species diversity and tree density

Use of tree species

Chapter 6

Farmer Experimentation: Building Knowledge

What is knowledge and how is it obtained?

Agroforestry knowledge and gender

Is knowledge about trees essential for tree planting and agroforestry activities?

Farmer experimental practices

The tree experts' species trial: studying farmer experimentation in action

Farmers' reactions to a new, unknown species: a hypothetical scenario

Farmers' approach to testing and evaluating tree species experiments

Chapter 7

Building Knowledge Through Information Gathering and Sharing


Active searches for new information: travel to other places

Passive acquisition of new ideas from farm visitors

Sharing information and experiences about new technologies and farm problems

Relationships with research, extension and development agencies: access to and on-farm testing of new technologies

Chapter 8

Summary, Conclusions and Recommendations

Methodological issues related to the identification of local tree experts

Farmers' perspectives of agroforestry and tree planting practices

Farmer experimentation: a comparison of methods and procedures with scientific research

Enhancing local communication networks: the key for advancing agroforestry knowledge production and farmer experimental practices

Research questions requiring future investigation




French words

Kinyarwanda words

Definition of terms

Acronyms and abbreviations


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