Local champions fair on innovative solutions for integrating local champions in agricultural extension and advisory systems

23 - 25 April 2018, Xai-Xai, Mozambique

Vivienne Likhanga and Laura Fantini

In late April 2018, the first ever Local Champions Fair in Africa by the PROCASUR Corporation was concluded in Xai-Xai, Mozambique.

The cross-regional three day Local Champions Fair focused on Innovative solutions for Integrating Local Champions in Agricultural Extension and Advisory Systems. The event was organized and implemented by PROCASUR in collaboration with the Pro-poor Value Chain Development Project in the Maputo and Limpopo Corridors (PROSUL) with the Agricultural Development Fund (FDA), under the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (MASA) of Mozambique. It was co-funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in the frame of the IFAD-PROCASUR Grant Programme "Strengthening Capacities and tools to scale up and disseminate Innovations"

Participants described the cross regional knowledge-sharing event as a ground-breaking tool for knowledge sharing among peers. The event was attended by 135 persons and brought together over 70 participants - among them 25 were local champions - from 13 different project delegations. In attendance were members of different IFAD co-funded projects and development organisations, such as CARE International, from Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique and Peru. A strong representation of national and local authorities from Mozambique actively attended and contributed to the event.

A group photo: Opening day ~ A section of the participants of the Local Champions Fair with Mr. Higino Francisco de Marrule, the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security (MASA) and Ms. Stela Pinto Novo Zeca, the Governor of Gaza Province

Why a Learning Event on Local Champions and Extension Services?

Agricultural extension and advisory services play a crucial role in agricultural development and can contribute to improve the welfare of small-holder farmers and people living in rural areas whose livelihoods strongly depend on agriculture. They can be organized and delivered in a variety of forms, but their ultimate aim is to increase farmers’ capacities to overcome poverty in a sustainable way. The effectiveness of the extension system in fostering capacity building, technological adoption and ultimately improved agricultural outcomes depends on many key factors, some of them are strongly contextualized and for this reason, there is not an equal solution to be adopted in all countries around the world. Among those factors, the advisory approaches and methodologies used, the ability of farmers in accessing them and in exercising their voice, and their role in formulating demands, in disseminating knowledge and in transferring technologies play an important role.

In this framework, the main objective of the Local Champions Fair was to build a cross regional concrete platform of outstanding talents, project directors, decision-makers, technical and extension officers to analyse and to discuss collectively the opportunities to strengthen the advisory models that are based on local champions and on the Farmer-to-Farmer methodologies.

The project delegations participating in the event shared their experiences, good practices and farmers practical solutions on the assessment, harvesting and integration of knowledge in the rural technical advisory services

Mr Fabiao Cossa, an animal health officer and Local Champion in the Red Meat Value Chain in Chokwe, Manjague District Mozambique, receiving his certificate of recognition for his exemplary services and leadership

Farmer to Farmer Exchanges
The first day of the Local Champions Fair was a unique experience. The official opening session was graced by Mr. Higino Francisco de Marrule, the Minister of agriculture and food security (MASA) and Ms. Stela Pinto Novo Zeca, the Governor of Gaza Province. 

Afterwards there was a plenary session on the role of Local Champions in extension and advisory services with a focus on existing challenges and opportunities. The panel was chaired by Custodio Mucavel, the IFAD Country Programme Officer in Mozambique and the key speakers were a senior expert, Dario Pulgar, the Director of the National Department for Extension Agriculture in MASA, Ms. Sandra Silver, the Project Director of the Sustainable Territorial Development Project (STDP) an IFAD co-funded project in Peru, Jose Salier Pasco, and the Director for land conservation from the Ministry of Agriculture in Malawi, Kefasi Kamoyo. 

After lunch, the Fair session was opened. Each country delegation showcased their project experiences on the implementation of farmer-to-farmer rural advisory models. They shared their good practices and the farmers’ practical solutions stimulating discussion around the assessment, harvesting and integration of knowledge in rural technical advisory services. The Local Champions from the different countries participating in the event were the protagonists of the fair session.

During the second day, the participants were divided into two groups to take part in the field visits. The participants had the opportunity to meet the PROSUL emerging farmers, the farmers promoters and the community in the field in order to learn directly by them about the role plaid of these Local Champions in mobilizing and training other farmers as well as in disseminating knowledge and in transferring technologies. The field visits focused on the interventions under the PROSUL Project whose goal is to establish improved and climate-resilient livelihoods of small farmers involved in the three target value chains (namely the horticulture value chain, the cassava value chain and the red meat value chain) in selected districts of the Maputo and Limpopo corridors in Mozambique.
Group 1 travelled to Chókwè district at Manjangue to meet the Champions under the red meat value chain and to Gandlaze to a horticulture value chain farmer field school site. Group 2 travelled to Zavala District to see the demonstration on traditional cassava processing as done by the Vuneka Maita women's association and Mandlakazi district to learn about the farmer to farmer exchanges on cassava production and multiplication.

Local Champions of the Vuneka Maita women's Association in Zavala, showcasing their cassava processing activities
The exercise created a big interest among the community members and the participants were impressed by the initiatives being carried out under the PROSUL project in particular the integrated approaches on fostering sustainability and resilience that includes the farmers, extension services, IFAD project and the government working together.
The final day of the Local Champions Fair was dedicated to the collective analysis of the lessons learnt on how to improve the farmer-to-farmer models into the projects and programmes operations. Despite the distinctness of the approaches and challenges addressed by the country/project delegations, they showed a number of common aspects, such as the focus on up-scaling (providing hierarchical support to Local Champions,) and out-scaling (facilitating farmer to farmer knowledge diffusion) good practices and tools for monitoring and assessment. There was a mutual agreement on the need to institutionalize mechanisms that motivate the Local Champions at a community level and project level.

An entire session of the workshop was dedicated to bilateral and trilateral conversations among the country / project delegations who showed specific commonalities and specific needs to share more in depth. All the delegations strongly committed to follow up and build next steps together, to continue working together and to organize future occasion of knowledge and experience sharing, all in the name of the common aim of improving Local Champions integration into the extension and advisory services. PROCASUR will facilitate this process. 

Plenary sessions on the lessons learnt to improve farmer to farmer models into project and programme operations
What came out loud and clear: Highlights
• “There’s a need of people in the community who are able to help others in terms of understanding the technologies, linking to market and in all those aspects related to the development of rural communities. Local Champions are people that can adopt technologies quicker and better than other farmers and in this way they can be used to help the government extension services in the dissemination of information and technologies thereby bringing a lot more people to benefit from extension services” ~ Custodio Mucavel, IFAD Country Programme Officer, Mozambique 
• “A Local Champion should be a person who has a good reputation in the community and some abilities, one of them being open to learn. Such a person can be able to disseminate knowledge and transfer technologies to other farmers in the surrounding communities. Extension officers need to work with the champions at local level to replicate good practices.” ~ Daniel Mate, PROSUL Project Director
• I am an auxiliary veterinary and I have 15 years of experience as a Local Champion specializing in providing technical assistance to community members and farmers organizations in high landscape in Perú. In 2013 my community identified me as a leader. I started off as a promoter within several project and organizations. Today I have a certification as a livestock rural extensionist and I have signed several agreements with municipalities. I thank the organizers of this international event for giving me the opportunity to share my experience with other local champions in order to share with them how we can act to develop our countries more and more. Local Champions need to be the agents of change in our communities” ~ Felicitas Quispe, President of the Asociación kamayoq Toribio Quispe, Local Champion
• “When the farmers work with the governments, ministries and extension services, there will be conflicting interests and situations because of the presence of extractive industries which have a significant impact on the lives and the way things are done in local communities. There should awareness of the situational context in which communities operate and how they will be changed radically because of the presence of extractive industries. However the issue of the cultural dimension of development should not be ignored because Local Champions should not follow a process of imposing things on different cultures. In Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) the issue of indigenous people is a very important question. Extension services and projects should respect the culture of indigenous people. Because the ways and norms in which they live is completely different” ~ Dario Pulgar, Senior expert, Independent Consultant
• “This Fair opens a space for discussion about new ways of providing agriculture extension and rural services. To have the same producers who tell us what are their capacities and their local knowledge, what are the local articulations through which they can lead the process of change is crucial in order to open new opportunities. The event showed us that rural development and rural areas around the world share common challenges, but also that each region and country has some specificities and for this reason a unique model is not viable everywhere. This event shows how it is possible to start from the local to build development” ~ Mireya Eugenia Valencia Perafan, University of Brasilia.

Participants: From left to right, A PROSUL Local Champion with Humphrey Kimathi from the IFAD Project, Upper Tana Catchment Natural Resource Management Project (UTaNRMP) in Kenya and Marcília Rodrigues de Souza from the SEMEAR IFAD Project in Brazil, at the "Tree of knowledge"

We would like to take this opportunity to share with you the following album with the pictures of the event. We strongly invite you to join and contribute with your thoughts and comments in the Facebook Group created for the event in order to network and to follow our discussions on the topic.

Also visit the dedicated website page, the Procasur Africa Facebook and Twitter page for additional reading and information on the event.

For any further information on the event you can also write to Laura Fantini (Local Champions Fair Coordinator)