Sustainable Small-Scale Agricultural Development Training Project

1996 Annual Report for LST96-010

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 1996: $25,701.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/1998
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $25,701.00
Region: Southern
State: Louisiana
Principal Investigator:
Adell Brown
Southern University

Sustainable Small-Scale Agricultural Development Training Project


Train professional agricultural educators, community developers and organizational leaders with responsibilities for working with and directing small-scale farmers to:

1.) Become aware of and understand the appropriate use of the various small-scale sustainable agricultural models that are based on holistic approaches (production, management, and marketing).

2.) Acquire the necessary skills to work with grassroots groups, by using sustainable, holistic planning and management models that include, leadership development, strategic planning and evaluation, and communication and group decision making.

The Southern University Cooperative Extension Program and College of Agriculture, and Heifer Project International (HPI) sponsored two workshops for agricultural professionals who work in the small-scale agricultural sector. The first workshop (2 ½ days), held at the HPI’s International Livestock Center in Perryville, Arkansas, focused on leadership development, understanding and applying sustainable development and strategic planning concepts and practices to small-scale and alternative agriculture. Forty-eight participants from eleven states in the Southern Region were present. Additionally, approximately sixty farmers, ranchers, processors and agricultural business persons attended a one-day training meeting held with the workshop.

The second workshop (2 ½ days), held at Southern University, Baton Rouge, LA, focused on marketing, laws and regulations affecting alternative enterprises, and successful small farm sustainable production and marketing practices. The workshop ended with tours of the University’s farm and three diversified small farmers’ operations. More than eighty individuals from twelve states in the Southern Region to include the U.S. Virgin Islands attended the workshop. Results from the two workshops were reported in the 1997 annual report, thus, this report will focus on the follow-up evaluation and dissemination of information.

We conducted a follow-up evaluation during 1998 to learn how participants viewed the value of the information presented at the workshops, six months later, as they go about doing their work. The evaluation was also designed to detect challenges to sustainable agriculture development and training needs.

A questionnaire was designed and mailed out to approximately eighty participants who attended one or both of the workshops. From the mail-out, twenty-five questionnaires were returned. An additional thirty questionnaires were completed through telephone interviews. A graduate student in public administration was hired to conduct interviews and analyze data.

Survey results indicated that most respondents were still working with small-scale farmers. Their understanding of the multi-dimensions of sustainable agriculture was felt to have improved because of participating in the workshop(s). There was general agreement among respondents that there is improvement in the attitudes of extension agents, NRCS personnel and other professional agricultural workers about sustainable agriculture. Most respondents noted that we have not reached the desired level of acceptance, but there is positive movement.

A goal was for workshop participants to use the information gained and go back into their work environments and form teams of sustainable educators. More than 70 percent of respondents reported being a part of a local or state sustainable network. Many were participating, in varying degrees, with state extension sustainable advisory committees or training teams.

Developing marketing niches and exploring cooperative marketing opportunities were viewed as having the greatest value/need. Respondents rated the area on laws and regulations affecting small farmers as the second highest need. Though, they gave high ratings to this area, it was generally felt to be the area they could least influence through educational programs. Farm tours that showed practical “on the ground” sustainable small farm projects were felt to have value.

December 1998.