Capacity building in agricultural development projects - A case study about women smallholder farmers in Kerala, India

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In the last decade many development projects focused on agricultural development, wherein smallholder farmers are challenged to change their traditional practices and make use of new technologies and techniques. However, it is seen that smallholder farmers are not able or willing to apply learned practices or increase production. One reason for this is that interventions focus on capacity building in a way that they include training in knowledge and skills, but they do not take into account the values, attitudes and beliefs of farmers and their surroundings. Therefore, this research answers the following research question: Can capacity building be included in agricultural projects focused on smallholder farmers in developing countries, and if so, how? A case study about women smallholder farmers in Kerala, India, is conducted. Findings show that not only the knowledge and skills are hindering a woman smallholder farmer’s capacity to grow, but also her internal motivation, level of empowerment, ability to take risks, the perception towards farming and informal institutions are important for her capacity. Hence, this study proposes a framework with components to consider when developing a strategy for capacity building of women smallholder farmers. This study provides a better understanding of the importance of certain components for capacity building and can help project initiators when they are to include capacity building in agricultural development projects to develop sustainable projects.