Promoting Sustainable Agriculture and Natural Resource Management through the Process Approach: Experience from UMADEP Project of Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania
The importance of the Uluguru Mountains in Morogoro Region depends on two aspects: first, productivity of the available non-restricted natural resources, and the ecological balance of the mountains in the restricted areas. Unfortunately, the increasing population pressure, continual indiscriminative slash and burn practices, intensive use of chemical fertilizers and conventional research approaches in the mountains threaten these two aspects in the complexity of the natural resource management. In order to redress the situation, the Uluguru Mountains Agricultural Development Project (UMADEP) has been using the process approach to sustainable agriculture and natural resource management (NRM) in Mgeta and Mkuyuni Divisions since 1993. Studies conducted in the Uluguru Mountains, have assessed the effectiveness of soil and water conservation (SWC) measures in soil erosion control and established reasons for adoption or non-adoption of SWC measures. The role of the process approach in promoting sustainable agriculture and NRM has not been studied. Using qualitative content analysis, this study attempted to highlight the outcome of the process approach in planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of NRM activities. A series of activities have been implemented with the participation of rural communities, such as: Stakeholders’ engagement and networking, conservation of the environment and natural resources, rural micro-financing, business appraisal and marketing. These activities have been implemented through four iterative and continuous steps: Situational analysis (observation), collaborative planning (communication), action and critical reflection (social learning and negotiation). The lessons from this process indicate that: (i) community members should be actively involved in prioritizing issues and in developing the activity plans and working according to commonly agreed activity plans from the beginning of the project; (ii) sharing of experiences among farmers and between professionals through a process of regular farmers’ groups and local networks forums ensures sustainability of project interventions; (iii) the simpler the soil and water conservation and management technological interventions coupled with immediate economic returns (including availability of market) and loans, the faster the farmers can adopt the technologies; (iv) the process approach enables negotiation and social learning among programme actors. Finally, the experience points to the need for continuous re-building of livelihood security and social capital of the farming communities to achieve greater understanding of the importance of maintaining the environment in the long-term.
Keywords: process approach, sustainable agriculture, natural resource management, negotiation, social learning, UMADEP
FACULTY OF AGRICULTURE SOKOINE UNIVERSITY OF AGRICULTURE, MOROGORO, TANZANIA