GENERAL OVERVIEW ABOUT RIPAT
RIPAT (Rural Initiatives for Participatory Agricultural Transformation) is one such approach, developed among small scale farmers in Northern Tanzania by a local NGO, RECODA under the partnership/sponsorship of the Rockwool Foundation. Projects under RIPAT are economic development interventions that aim at closing the agricultural technology gap as a means of improving livelihoods and self-support among impoverished small scale farmers. The RIPAT intervention was intended to find sustainable, low-cost solutions to the challenges faced by small-scale farmers by providing proper tools, techniques and information in a participatory help-to-self-help approach; which deliberately takes its starting point in the fact that one-size does not fit all.
RIPAT is a pragmatic mix of traditional Training and Visit (T&V) and participatory extension approaches, such as Farmer Field Schools. It mobilize farmers to have vision of development and join in groups where varied ‘basket of technology options’ are introduced, leaving each individual farmer with a genuine possibility of choice as to which technologies to adopt, when and to what extent, depending on their needs and resources.
Farmers’ Choice is a book which presents the research results (FACTS – what came out of RIPAT and ‘how and why did it happen) while the RIPAT Manual represents ACT (How to make it happen’ or ‘how to ACT in order to get the same results; i.e. these are two books from the RIPAT interventions and from the research – which complement one another.
RIPAT briefing summarises RIPAT book and manual while they are free downloadable from www.ripat.org.
Why RIPAT (Why RIPAT has been developed )?
RIPAT was developed to respond to two questions – or two challenges:
- Why so many agricultural development projects have generated so little impact among rural farmers.
- Why so many improved agricultural technologies are developed, but not adopted by small scale farmers.
What is RIPAT?
RIPAT is an APPROACH to agricultural development through motivation, grouping, and new knowledge;is a kind of an extension approach – a generic model – on how to design agricultural development projects for small holders; and is about how to reach farmers with new knowledge in a way they find relevant. A RIPAT project can include various types of technologies (basket of options) – depending on the local setting. So RIPAT is like a truck – or a camel – that can carry various types of new knowledge/ technologies interventions.
The goal has been to reduce poverty (improve income), environmental conservation, and food and nutrition security.
RIPAT uses the best from the traditional, ‘top down’ extension method called ‘Training and Visiting (T&V), and the ‘bottom up’ extension method called ‘Farmers Field School (FFS). It should be noted that RIPAT is NOT about specific agricultural technologies or methods.
RIPAT Manual - The Manual is for whom?
The RIPAT Manual explains step-by-step how to organize and implement a robust group-based agricultural development project. The manual is meant for those who are interested in improving the food security and incomes of small-scale farmers: primarily practitioners, but also teachers, researchers and decision makers. The manual is especially relevant for staff of NGOs and development organizations at programming and field levels, and for local government officials involved in agricultural extension and rural development.
Where RIPAT works best
In principle the RIPAT approach should be applicable in most agricultural based communities.RIPAT work best where farmers live relatively close to one another (should not exceed 5 km),with relatively good conditions for agriculture and where the population is settled as the participating farmers must be permanentlyresident and have crop and livestock production as a part of their livelihood.
The entry point is not so much about technologies but merely about mobilizing and sensitizing communities and individuals to take charge for their own development and to promote utilization of locally available resources for livelihoods improvement. RIPAT is designed for the active poor small scale farmers with the ability to move from the poverty level into the mid level of the wealth ranking.
Why RIPAT – By Professor Mattee
Unlike other extension approaches used in Tanzania after been adapted from other countries; RIPAT approach has been developed based on the environment of our country. Among the best way of initiating positive development and poverty alleviation among impoverished rural farmers achieved through community sensitization, mobilization and capacity building to utilize locally available resources and opportunities for livelihoods improvements leading to self reliance and improved living standards make RIPAT to be a peculiar approach.
Professor Amon Z. Mattee, Department of Agricultural Education and Extension, Sokoine University of Agriculture, Morogoro, Tanzania showed why RIPAT in his endorsement that; ‘This is an excellent, easy-to-follow, step-by-step guide on how organizations working with small-scale farmers should approach their task. This is a “must have” resource book for all extension and rural development practitioners, be they from government or from the NGO sector. For a long time in Tanzania there has not been any such a manual to guide extension work and this will certainly fill the gap.’