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Which advisory system to support innovation in conservation agriculture? The case of Madagascar's lake Aloatra

Faure G., Penot E., Rakotondravelo J.C., Ramahatoraka H.A., Dugué P., Toillier A.. 2012. In : IFSA. Producing and reproducing farming systems. New modes of organisation for sustainable food systems of tomorrow : 10th European IFSA Symposium, July 1-4, 2012, Aarhus, Denmark. Vienne : IFSA, 13 p.. European IFSA Symposium. 10, 2012-07-01/2012-07-04, Aarhus (Danemark).

To promote sustainable agriculture, various development projects are encouraging farmers around Madagascar's Lake Alaotra to adopt conservation agriculture techniques of direct-seeding, mulch-based cropping systems (DMCs). The increase in area under coverage where these new techniques have been applied, though real, remains modest and calls into question the relevance of the support currently being extended to farmers, especially in the form of advice. This article's objective is to advance a method of designing advisory services suitable for supporting complex innovation (the adoption of DMCs for rainfed crops) by promoting learning, access to services and the empowerment of actors. Results of farmer surveys and advisory actors highlight the current domination of technical advice provided by projects dedicated to promoting conservation agriculture methods, amongst which DMCs, based on recommendations arising from a technicist research. Nevertheless, these advisory actors have shown a recent willingness to promote advisory services which address overall farm complexity in interaction with the proposed technical changes. Results not only call into question the advisory method used but also the ability of advisors to adopt an advisory system built jointly with the farmers. But the farmers and famers' organizations have a limited ability to influence choices made by the projects. They question the sustainability of the advisory mechanism beyond the end of the project in the context of external funding of the advisory system.

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