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Cultivating prospective thinking: A gateway into the future for Peruvian dairy farmers in the Mantaro valley. Experimenting a support approach based on the use of modelling tools

Bienz N., Le Gal P.Y.. 2012. Montpellier : CIRAD-ES, 73 p..

The Mantaro Valley is an Andean region where its dairy sector has been experiencing noticeable growth since the mid 1990s. Moreover, milk production has shown potential in improving the standards of living for farmers in the area. As a result, this study was launched aiming at improving dairy farm development through the use of a support approach, based on the use of modelling tools. This methodology does not serve as an aid for decision making per se, but rather as a means to stimulate the farmers' thought process, ultimately aiding them reflect on their foreseen projects. The experimentation of this approach was conducted with 10 dairy farmers. Results show that, despite all striving to increase volumes of produced milk; each farmer anticipated doing so in a different manner. Their journey through the support approach allowed them to explore various options to attain their objective. The participative nature of the support methodology, the outputs from the modelling tools, and the discussions that materialize during approach proved to be key factors in fostering reflection on behalf of the farmers. Developing farmers' prospective thinking may ultimately contribute to the successful implementation of improvement projects at the farm level, and to the progression of the region's dairy sector. The support approach provides also a mean to evaluate potential impacts of economic and climatic shocks on farm performances. Simulations carried out on the ten studied farms show that intensifying dairy production based on own fodder resources allows farmers to decrease their milk production costs and consequently to increase their resistance to variability of milk prices. Sensitivity of milk production to reduced supply of irrigation water varies according to the kind of fodder system implemented. The farmers' positive response to the support approach in this study suggests that other farmers in the valley could benefit from this type of agricultural assistance. Extending the methodology to a greater farming population would imply that the simulation tools be overhauled, and that an advisory entity be identified to implement the approach.

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