Swiss College of Agriculture, Zollikofen

Project Opti-Milk: Collaboration in learning groups

Active cooperation among researchers, advisers and farmers has been promoted and practised for over sixty years. In Swiss agriculture, however, participatory research and extension activities are still lacking. Therefore, the Swiss College of Agriculture has been taken up this topic as part of its Opti-Milch research project. It has studied the available literature, analyzed past experience and set up two learning groups to examine the basic principles and success factors of active research and advisory work. The findings are positive: The groups studied show that the exchange of experience among the persons involved can be very successful. Crucial success factors include accurate observation of the processes, selecting the appropriate action, clearly defined roles, various basic conditions and a work process divided into various phases. The key to success lies in understanding that the sound specialist knowledge of researchers and advisers and the practical experience of farmers can complement each other very well within a framework of structured, guided processes.

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