Stakeholder planning of the institutionalization of the volunteer farmer-trainer approach in dairy producer organizations in Kenya: key steps and supporting mechanisms
The effectiveness of community-based extension approaches has been widely documented, however their sustainability remains weak. Institutionalization has been proposed as a way of achieving sustainability. This paper shares experiences of the learning and planning phase of the institutionalization of the volunteer farmer-trainer (VFT) approach in three dairy producer organizations (POs) in Kenya. The paper builds a detailed understanding of the key steps and social processes involved and the wider lessons that might be learned regarding institutionalization in the context of local institutions such POs. We draw on data from key informant interviews, focus groups discussions and workshops. The first phase of the process which spanned one year involved engagements with stakeholders at different levels; from VFTs, dairy cooperative management, government extension and local NGOs. The process involved awareness creation, joint learning at the individual, group and organization level, a strengths-weaknesses-opportunities-threats (SWOT) analysis of producer organizations and identifying opportunities for harnessing resources for support functions. We highlight the important supporting social and institutional processes that are required for this to happen. These include getting acceptance and support from key stakeholders, developing a shared understanding, stakeholder ownership of the process, commitment from top leadership of POs and institutional structures to support the process. For the process to be actualized, we discuss mechanisms that need to be put in place.