Self-assessing good practices and scaling-up strategies in sustainable agriculture - Guidelines for Facilitators
These were the guidelines used by the SUSTAINET project. Originally known as “Combating world hunger with sustainable, adapted agriculture”, this was a project funded by the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), and run by the three major German non-governmental development organisations – Misereor, the German Agro Action (DWHH) – and the German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GTZ).
Its mainobjective was to objective systematically evaluate, communicate, and disseminate successful approaches and concepts for scaling up sustainable agriculture. With this overall objective in mind, Sustainet wanted to establish networks between local and international partners, hence promoting the dissemination of successful concepts; understand the factors relevant to successful scaling up; highlight the significance of sustainable agriculture for global food security to political institutions in the partner countries and in Germany; identify promising key promotion priorities in rural areas; and specify fields of action for agricultural policy.
The core idea behind the Sustainable Agriculture Information Network (Sustainet), and therefore of these guidelines, was that many development organisations and farmers around the world have had positive experiences with sustainable agricultural practices. By documenting their lessons learnt, assessing the preconditions and impact of good practices, and communicating them to others, these one-time, all-too-often "island" solutions have the potential to be developed into strategies that are transferable to other places and other contexts. In this way, these guidelines were envisaged as a tool, which organisations can use to take stock of their successful approaches to sustainable agriculture and scaling-up strategies to in-crease their impact.
Because these guidelines have been developed for different or-ganisations, they are not a conventional manual or “cook book” containing advice one only has to follow to achieve the desired results. Recommendations must be adapted to suit the organisations’ needs and the conditions under which the organisation or project works. The guidelines were to be considered as a document in progress, which can be improved on and developed even further by Sustainet and its partner organisations in the pilot areas.
The first section introduces Sustainet and describes its objectives, activities and intended impacts. It further explains how Sustainet was initiated and its plans for worldwide coverage. The second section, or Chapter B, presents the conceptual framework. For those interested in the concepts, definitions and inter-linkages of the two units of analysis “good practices of sustainable agriculture” and “scaling-up strategies”, this chapter provides models and explanations.
Chapter C outlines the actual self-assessment. It specifies survey questions, sources of information, the methods and tools we recommend for data collection, and ideas for do-cumentation, all of which are recommendations for conducting self-assessment in your organisation or project. This chapter is primarily seen as instruction for your or-ganisation’s self-assessment facilitators, since it goes into considerable detail. Additionally, it provides information for people who want to understand the concepts and inter-linkages introduced in the conceptual framework, which have been extended to include specific assumptions for each survey question.
Chapter D deals with the organisational side of self-assessment. It gives recommendations on how to plan the self-assessment (part D1), and covers aspects such as selection of facilitators and case study area, and how existing data can be integrated into the assessment. The next two parts are primarily based on the field-testing experience in Indian partner organisations and give hints on conducting and documenting the self-assessment. Part D2 covers aspects such as how to prepare for the field phase, how to conduct the field survey and document the data, and how to carry out the first analysis.
Similarly, part D3 makes recommendations on the assessment of the organisation’s scaling-up strategies, such as meetings with management, department and field staff. Part D4 contains recommendations on how to learn from the assessment findings in the organisation or project. This chapter will also give some guidance on report writing. The final aspect considered in this chapter is how to communicate the findings in the organisation, and to Sustainet and other stakeholders.
Chapter E introduces the suggested report format and gives hints on visualisation and layout. Finally, the annexes include a glossary with working definitions of key terms, drafted by the participants of the self-assessment workshops;a list of further reading material, particularly on scaling up; a brief introduction into SWOT-analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) and a sample moderation plan; a timetable and list of participants of the Conceptual Workshop; a list of participants in the Methodology and Reflection Workshop; and the Sustainet Project Planning Matrix (PPM).