The goal of this project is to support increased agricultural productivity through an improved policy environment, support for more effective and efficient extension service provision and ecological organic agricultural research, and by empowering farmers and youth in engaging in the EOA sector. To achieve this broad objective, research, training and extension functions are considered imperative in this project. Research is considered an important methodological process that will use internationally recognized standards, to carry out and document investigations in order to discover, analyze and write up new skills, practices, facts or information; training as empowering farmers and youth to acquire specific skills that are of immediate use and for local policy and decision-makers to understand their implications, and extension as the training and follow-up needed for the uptake, adaptation and scaling out of improved, ecologically sound farming practices, including post-harvest processing and marketing, for smallholder farmers, most of whom are women.
To prepare for assessing the impact of the project as a whole and to provide a credible evaluation of the country pilots, the project needs to establish a baseline of the situation in the field as of now. The research, training and extension pillar of the EOA Initiative will therefore focus on:
- Understanding and responding to issues facing smallholder farmers, both women and men, and the youth through conducting research, training and extension activities by 2020.
- Incorporating ecological organic agriculture into the agricultural policy and strategy of African countries through support of fully farmer-led, participatory research by 2020;
- Empowering local communities / groups, smallholder farmers, both women and men, and the youth through ecological organic agriculture for local food security and improved livelihoods with the support of their local experts and policy makers by 2020.
This is a priority area that will help build up the body of scientific data supporting EOA. Led by actors in research and training institutes and universities; participatory, interdisciplinary, multi- cultural research will be conducted to inform stakeholder training. Knowledge, innovations and technologies will be co-developed with rural communities, extension and advisory services. By involving farmers in the research, existing indigenous knowledge will be harnessed and scientifically tested to produce empirical data that can be used for validation and further innovation are considered so that farming technologies and practices consider the active participation of women and marginalized groups (youth) in farming. There are currently several regional research projects and programs on EOA including FiBL led research programs in West and East Africa and the International Center of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) activities. Further synergy with these programs should be encouraged.