Using Soil and Water Conservation Contests for Extension: Experiences from the Bolivian Mountain Valleys
Springer Science and Business Media LLC -- Environmental Management
DOI 10.1007/s00267-007-9014-1
  1. Soil and water conservation
  2. Farmer-based extension
  3. Sustainable rural development
  4. Farmer contests
  5. Farmer-to-farmer training
  6. Bolivian mountain valleys

Soil and water conservation (SWC) contests among farmer groups were organized in five rural villages in the Bolivian mountain valleys. The contests were aimed at quickly achieving widespread sustainable results. This article analyzes the effectiveness of these contests as an extension tool. Mixed results were obtained. In three villages, participation rates in the SWC activities introduced in the contests were still high even 2 years after project withdrawal. These were all villages where a solid foundation for sustainable development had been laid before the contests were held. Two years later, most families were still involved in maintenance of the SWC practices introduced in the contests, and many farmers had started to experiment with different soil management practices. However, replications of these SWC practices were not widespread, Conservation Leaders did not continue with their training activities, and the quality of maintenance of the practices was often not satisfactory. In order to become a more effective extension tool and achieve widespread impact, SWC contests must receive continued support by a catalyst agency. Moreover, other SWC contests should also be organized in which practices are not predefined. Given that SWC contests are a low-budget extension tool, local municipalities could become more actively involved.