SUMMARY

Despite the central role that farmers play as agricultural producers in developing countries, they are often inadequately served by research, extension and advisory services. Extension approaches such as the farmer-to-farmer extension (F2F) approach were developed to improve service to farmers, but little is known about how this approach is being used in Cameroon. This paper examines the experiences of organizations using the F2F extension approach. Specifically, the study characterizes and assesses F2F extension approaches in Cameroon to determine which practices are most effective in different circumstances. A semi-structured
questionnaire was used to collect data from 24 selected organizations in seven regions of the country. The F2F extension approach in Cameroon is used by farmer organizations as well as national and international non-profit organizations. Neither governmental services nor private sector companies use this approach. Those organizations using F2F extension had on averagefive field staff (FS), and mainly targeted farmer groups.Fifty-eight percent of organizations interviewed had one woman or no women among their field staff. Though respondents stated that their organizations were using many different extension approaches, in addition to the F2F approach, 41 percent identified F2F as the most
effective method. The main sources of technical information for FS were personal reading, information exchanged during seminars and workshops, staff members’ own experiences and research institutes. Field staff were in charge of capacity development and follow-up of lead farmers (LFs). On the basis of mutually agreed upon criteria, LFs were usually selected jointly by FS and the community. According to the organizations interviewed, individual FS were working with 17 LFs on average, and the latter were training approximately four groups, each with about 43
members, in addition to 48 individual farmers outside of these groups. These LFs were considered an extension of FS in their communities and usually offered their services on a voluntary basis. Some organizations supported LFs by providing per diem during training workshops and meetings, and helping them set up income-generating opportunities such as selling livestock or seedlings. Among the main motivations for one to become a lead farmer mentioned by respondents were altruism and early access to technologies, followed by job benefits and
social status. To remain in the position, LFs were motivated by opportunities for income generation and altruism, as well as social networking. Most of the organizations gave F2F a score of 8 (on a scale of 1-10) for effectiveness, so it is clear that the F2F approach isconsidered highly effective in Cameroon.

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