Assisting smallholder farmers in mixed crop-livestock systems to understand the potential effects of technologies and climate change through participatory modeling
Smallholder farming systems in the semiarid areas of Zimbabwe are characterized by low production. This low production is not solely due to lack of technologies but also due to a lack of integrating a diversity of viewpoints belonging to local, expert and specialized stakeholders during technology development. Participatory approaches combined with computerbased modeling are increasingly being recognized as valuable approaches to jointly develop sustainable agricultural pathways. The paper discusses the application of this integrated and iterative process in developing and evaluating the impact of interventions aimed at improving food and feed production. The paper concludes that the process allows farmers to determine the impact of their decisions, evaluate new options and define realistic production and management options tailored to their particular circumstances. While inturn scientists and other stakeholders learn more about the farmers’ decisionmaking process, input and managerial potentials as well as knowledge gaps.