RE: The farmer as a key participant of M&E: lessons and experiences from Participatory M&E systems | Eval Forward

Dear members,

I raised the discussion topic "The farmer as a key participant of M&E: lessons and experiences from Participatory M&E systems" and would like to thank you all for your contributions. I have learnt a lot from your experiences.

Below is a summary of the discussion.

  • Participation of farmers in M&E activities helps in ensuring project effectiveness and relevance and quality of project deliverables. When beneficiary farmers generate project data, they take full ownership of the project achievements.
  • Participatory M&E requires understanding what farmers already do in the context of their activities in order to avoid overloading them with extra work. It is necessary to develop farmers’ capacities and raise their awareness on the data collection activities and on the purposes of the project.
  • Farmers participation may be replaced by good field observation. Google earth and other satellite imagery provide high enough resolution imagery of project areas to easily plot where target crops are produced, measure the hectare involved and sum that up get percent of acceptance.
  • Challenges to consider when involving farmers in data collection and feedback include: i) Literacy levels can impede full participation; ii) young women involved often leave their communities of origin due to marriage; iii) sampling of participants may not be easy and it can be difficult to justify that the finding represent the community where the project was implemented; iv) famers’ feedback may be influenced by influential people in the community. This may require sensible managementand facilitation; v) agriculture innovations may take time to be effective, beyond the timing of the project cycle.
  • Different levels of participatory processes in agriculture projects may be identified: 1) Deep engagement: involve farmers in all or most of the project cycle; 2) Medium or opportunistic approach: farmers are invited just before or after the initiation of project –  probably the most common; 3) Low engagement: technocrats prepared the M & E and share with farmers to provide their feedback on their already prepared M & E strategy plan.
  • In general, the notion of participation acquires different connotations in various contexts and the practice of evaluation does not always reflect this participatory “vocation”. Many times programs and projects aimed at stimulating participation become a symbolic simulation, particularly when they are unaware of the reality of redistribution of power that involves encouraging a participatory process.
  • Methods used in participatory M&E and Evaluation include:
    • KoBo for collection of quantitative data and Dictaphones for collection of qualitative data
    • Outcome Harvesting: this method places the beneficiary at the centre to provide relevant quantitative and qualitative data and information on how the project is changing or contributing to changes in their livelihoods.
    • Resource mapping: can be used to understand how a project helped beneficiaries improve their life in comparing their previous experience.
    • Institutional mapping can help to understand stakeholders’ engagement in the community and is useful in the planning stage.
    • Venn diagrams useful for ‘agriculture market’ projects.
    • Seasonal calendars can provide very useful information for food security projects.
    • Community scorecards can be used to assess the performance (efficiency and effectiveness) of the project.
    • Change maps participatory technique: was used in the framework of the evaluation of the economic empowerment project that worked with female farmers in Kyrgyzstan, Central Asia and allowed to turn data collection into a semi-structured discussion among female farmers about what changed in their lives as a result of the project and its worth and merit.

Thank you for all these contributions.


Emma Gausi