Methods for analysis by farmers: the professional challenge
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Until recent years, professional attention has concentrated on improving "our" analysis of farming systems. The challenge now is to document and explore the scope for methods for enhancing farmers' own analysis. Scientists and extensionists have informally been developing and using such methods. Farmer participatory research (FPR) and participatory rural appraisal (PRA) are complementary and overlapping sources of experience. FPR methods are more verbal and observational, while PRA methods are more visual. PRA methods include participatory mapping, analysis of aerial photographs, matrix scoring and ranking, flow and linkage diagramming, seasonal analysis, and trend diagramming. ViBual methods have strengths. Farmers have a greater capacity to diagram and analyse than most outsiders have supposed, and farmers are proving good facilitators of analysis by other farmers. The professional challenge is further to develop, spread, test and improve farmers' analysis through these and other methods. The guestion is how. What are the next steps?