Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 23, Issue 4, pp 501–512 | Cite as

Patterns of participation in farmers’ research groups: Lessons from the highlands of southwestern Uganda

  • Pascal C. Sanginga
  • Jackson Tumwine
  • Nina K. Lilja
In the Field


There is increasing interest in farmers’ organizations as an effective approach to farmer participatory research (FPR). Using data from an empirical study of farmers’ research groups (FRGs) in Uganda, this paper examines the patterns of participation in groups and answers questions such as: Who participates? What types of participation? How does participation occur? What are the factors determining participation? Results show that there is no single type of participation, but rather that FPR is a dynamic process with types of participation varying at different stages of the process. Farmers’ participation does not follow the normal adoption curve. Rather, it is characterized by high participation at the initial stages, followed by dramatic decrease and dropping-out, and slow increases toward the end. There is usually significantly higher participation among male farmers at the beginning of the process. However, as FRGs evolve, the proportion of men decreases sharply while the relative proportion of women continues to increase until it dominates the group. The findings do not support the common assumption that groups usually exclude women and the poor. On the contrary, we argue that FRGs are an effective mechanism to provide women and the poor with opportunities to participate in research. However, to be effective, this requires moving beyond head counting to promote more proactive gender and equity perspectives for amplifying the benefits of agricultural research to those who tend to be marginalized or excluded by mainstream development initiatives. This will be critical for making agricultural research more client-oriented and demand-driven.


Farmer participatory research Farmer research group Gender Social equity Social capital Uganda 



farmer research groups


farmer participation research


Africa highlands initiative

Q of P

quality of participation


natural resource management


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We are grateful to the hundreds of female and male farmers in Kabale who provided the substance of this␣paper. We thank Roger Kirkby, Ann Stroud, and Jacqueline Ashby for their support and encouragement in various ways. The CGIAR, System-wide Programme on Participatory Research and Gender Analysis (PRGA) funded this study through a small grant provided by the German Department of Technical Cooperation (BMZ).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pascal C. Sanginga
    • 1
  • Jackson Tumwine
    • 1
    • 2
  • Nina K. Lilja
    • 3
  1. 1.International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), Kawanda Agricultural Research InstituteKampalaUganda
  2. 2.Africa Highlands Ecoregional Programme (AHI)KabaleUganda
  3. 3.CGIAR System-wide Programme on Participatory Research and Gender Analysis (PRGA)CaliColombia

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