Rural Resource Centres and rural institutions

Farmers learning about improved trees at a rural resource center in Belo, Cameroon

Rural Resource Centres (RRCs)

are community-managed centres that offer farmers access to knowledge, interactive learning, and linkage to networks – among farmers and with private sector firms, NGOs, and government. The centres provide farmers with training, link them with input suppliers and produce markets, and help them acquire knowledge and technologies. Capacity-strengthening activities supported by the centres include training in group dynamics, entrepreneurship, nursery development, seed and seedling production, tree propagation, post-harvest processing, storage and marketing. In Cameroon, ICRAF and local partners have helped communities establish 10 RRCs, hosting 150 nurseries and serving over 10,000 households. One of these RRCs won the prestigious UNDP Equator prize in 2010. We are currently conducting studies to assess the effectiveness of the RRCs.

Performance of relay organizations.

nternational organizations, NGOs, and government extension services often depend on ‘relay organizations’, also called community-based organizations, to disseminate agroforestry innovations and make the bridge between research and farmers. Degrande et al. (2012, 2014) assessed factors that affect the performance of relay organizations in successfully diffusing agroforestry innovations in Cameroon. Their results suggest that external conditions (e.g., good road and communication networks) have greater effects on performance than do internal conditions (e.g., human, material and financial resources).

Strengthening rural grassroots institutions.

Strong and vibrant grassroots institutions are seen as vital for successful natural resource management and achieving improved livelihoods among the rural poor. A model has been developed through action research at six sites across East Africa. It outlines the key considerations and processes needed to analyze and strengthen grassroots institutions. It also includes a tool for measuring and monitoring institutional maturity and a framework for assessing capacity needs (Muller et al., 2013). The model has four main sections: design; capacity needs analysis and strengthening; enterprise development and platform development; and evaluation and feedback.


Degrande, A., Franzel, S., Yeptiet, Y., Asaah, E., Tsobeng, A., and Tchoundjeu, Z. (2012). Effectiveness of grassroots organisations in the dissemination of agroforestry innovations. In Kaonga, M. (ed) Agroforestry for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services - Science and Practice. InTech, Rijeka, Croatia.

Degrande A., Siohdjie Yeptiep, Y., Franzel, S., Asaah, E., Takoutsing, B., Tsobeng, A. and Tchoundjeu Z. (2014). Disseminating agroforestry innovations in Cameroon: Are relay organisations effective? In : Van Lauwe B., Van Asten P. and Blomme G. (Eds) Agro-ecological Intensification of Agricultural Systems in the African Highlands, Routledge, New York, USA. PP 221-230.

Muller, C., Tanui, J., Bwire, D., Mohan, S., Bourne, M., Muller, A., Muthuri, M., Mowo, J. (2013). Assessing capacity needs and strategy development for grassroots rural institutions: a guide for facilitators. Technical Manual no, 20. ICRAF.

Takoutsing, B., Tchoundjeu Z., Degrande A., Asaah E. & Tsobeng A. (2014). Scaling-up Sustainable Land Management Practices through the Concept of the Rural Resource Centre: Reconciling Farmers' Interests with Research Agenda. The Journal of Agricultural Education and Extension. 20:5, 463-483.