Kenya Agricultural Research Institute Regional Research Centre.Embu Dryland Applied Research and Extensions

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Kenya Agricultural Research Institute
Oetting returns to agricultural research effort in dryland areas carries special risks and problems. The semi-arid areas of Kenya are often remote and poorly served by extension and input suppliers, with the result that new knowledge and new technologies are very slow to reach farmers. While there is a policy move to liberalise the agricultural sector, waiting for private enterprise to step in and fill the breach left by the withdrawal of government and NOO agricultural support services may mean waiting for a very long time. When new knowledge and technology does reach farmers it may be rejected as a result of being poorly presented, because it is too expensive, or because it is irrelevant to the farmer's circumstances. The Dryland Applied Research and Extension Project (DAREP) has tried to reduce the risk of conducting irrelevant research by linking research with technology supply systems which are more sustainable. The paper illustrates this process using four different types of technology: new tools, new varieties, new water harvesting methods and new animal health control methods.. Each of the technologies discussed poses specific challenges in terms of supply. With new tools the project has brought farmers, tool designers and jua kali artisans together during the tool development process. For new varieties, a system has been developed whereby farmers are involved, at community level, in on-station screening, on-farm testing, seed mUltiplication and distribution. With water harvesting technologies, farmer to farmer extension, facilitated by external agents, appears to be the most promising solution to technology supply. Local ethno-veterinary knowledge on mange control in small nlIllinants formed the basis of treatments using locally available ingredients which were evaluated in an on-farm trial. Extension of this technology has been facilitated by farmer to farmer visits from communities experiencing mange out-breaks.