Rural Initiative for Participatory Agricultural Transformation
The objective of RIPAT is to reduce poverty, hunger and undernutrition among smallholder farmers by improving agriculture and animal husbandry through the application of the principle of help to self-help. Through practical and theoretical training conducted on a common field, groups of farmers are introduced to a variety of crops and agricultural technologies with the potential to improve their agricultural production. Each farmer can then choose which crops and methods he/she wishes to adopt in his/her own farming practice.
Since the launch of the first RIPAT project, the ROCKWOOL Foundation has worked closely with the Tanzanian NGO RECODA to develop RIPAT further and implement the programme through a series of projects. These projects can be divided according to three concepts: RIPAT Start, RIPAT Spreading and RIPAT for Peace
RIPAT Start is the model used in a new project area, which will typically consist of around 15-20 rural villages, all facing similar challenges related to poverty and hunger and all with similar opportunities for agricultural development. Around half of these villages will be invited to participate in the RIPAT Start project. Two groups, each consisting of 30-35 farmers, are set up in each of the selected villages. Efforts are made to ensure that the groups choose good leaders who can take responsibility for the activities.
Over the subsequent 2-4 years, the groups are visited – at first weekly, and later every other week – by a skilled facilitator, who is typically employed by an NGO. The groups are introduced to a range of new, improved agricultural technologies and methods of cultivation through participant-oriented demonstration and trialling of methods, and through reflective learning.
The participating households share their new knowledge with their neighbours and other interested farmers in the villages, and also pass on seed and plant materials for the new crops. The best farmers in the groups (termed ‘super-farmers’) are elected from among the groups themselves. Super-farmers are social entrepreneurs and agents of change, people who have acquired a good grasp of the new technologies and methods and who have achieved success in implementing them in their own agricultural production.They play an important role in the subsequent spreading phase.
The 2-4 year RIPAT Start phase is followed up with a 1-year RIPAT Spreading model. This model is highly cost-effective in bringing RIPAT to the surrounding villages. Super-farmers from a RIPAT Start project are paired with government agricultural extension officers to start new RIPAT groups in the nearby villages. Facilitators from the NGO and advisors support the super-farmers, and the extension officers supervise their work.
During the spreading phase, then, the groups are not facilitated by costly personnel from the implementing NGO, but by the inexpensive super-farmers and government extension officers, who live locally. The super-farmers are provided with bicycles and receive modest but reasonable payment for each day spent visiting a group and training them in what they themselves have learned.
RIPAT for Peace
In addition to these two models, in 2014 the ROCKWOOL Foundation began the development of a project called ‘RIPAT for Peace’. This project is being implemented among agro-pastoralists in northern Kenya, in a political climate marked by conflict and insecurity. RIPAT for Peace is implemented together with a number of peace-preserving activities in an effort to improve both food security and the situatn with regard to peace in the area.
In 2017 RIPAT was handed over to World Vision and RECODA.