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       Latin America and the Caribbean is an area of high agricultural and

natural resource diversity, home to nearly 25 percent of the world’s forests and

woodlands located in the region and 36 percent of the world’s main cultivated

food and industrial species. The agriculture and natural resources industry plays

an important role in the development of both rural and urban areas, and allows

many people to supplement income and be economically active.

       Many agricultural research and outreach programs, performed by non-

governmental organizations, U.S. and European universities, and governmental

programs, strive to provide inputs and technologies to improve the productivity

and efficacy of farmers in the region. A common form of research is conducted

through participatory research programs, with the objective of satisfying a certain

need or goal on-farm or within the community. The overall goal of participatory

programs is to encourage the dissemination of information from the small

participatory group to the entire population of a village or group. Unfortunately,

the participatory research process is often dominated by the same problems

already faced by farmers and ranchers—inequality in the selection of participants,

failure to consider the concerns of all groups, and a lack of knowledge within the

entire community. In order to attain optimal results from participatory research

programs, researchers must find methods that address questions concerning

access to information, receive equal input from all stakeholders, and ensure that

results are disseminated across the entire community.
Agriculture’s Scope

            Major agricultural exports of Latin America and the Caribbean include

coffee (Brazil, Colombia, Central America), sugar (Central America and the

Caribbean), bananas (Ecuador, Colombia, Honduras), wheat and corn

(Argentina), fruits (Chile, Brazil, Argentina), and soybeans (Brazil). Farming

systems employed in the region include at least 16 distinct systems, adapted to

climate and environmental conditions across the region (figure 1) (FAO, 2001).

Figure 1

Farming System         Land area (% of   Agricultural Population   Principle Livelihoods    Prevalence of
                       region)           (%)                                                Poverty

Irrigated              10                9                         Horticulture, fruit,     Low-moderate
Forest-based           30                9                         Subsistence, cattle      Low-moderate
Costal Plantation      9                 17                        Export crops, tree       Low-extensive, and
                                                                   crops, fishing           severe (variable)
Intensive Mixed        4                 8                         Coffee, fruit            Low
Cereal-livestock       5                 6                         Rice, livestock          Low-moderate
Moist Temperate        1                 1                         Dairy, beef, tourism     Low
Maize-Beans            3                 10                        Maize, beans, coffee     Extensive, severe
Intensive Highland     2                 3                         Vegetables, coffee,      Low-extensive
                                                                   cattle/pigs, cereals
Extensive Mixed        11                9                         Livestock, oilseeds,     Low-moderate
                                                                   grains, coffee
Temperate Mixed        5                 6                         Livestock, wheat,        Low
Dryland Mixed          6                 9                         Livestock, maize,        Extensive (especially
                                                                   cassava                  drought-induced)
Extensive Dryland      3                 2                         Livestock, cotton,       Moderate
High Altitude          6                 7                         Tubers, sheep,           Extensive and severe
                                                                   llamas, grains
Pastoral               3                 1                         Sheep, cattle            Low-moderate
Sparse                 1                 <1                        Sheep, cattle, tourism   Low
Urban Based            <1                3                         Dairy, poultry           Low-moderate

            Poverty across the entire region is highly variable, and the same is true for

agricultural populations. As the figure illustrates, the prevalence of poverty is

extensive and extremely high in certain systems, such as high altitude and those

affected by drought, while other systems are little affected by poverty. In addition,

the percentage of the population and land involved in agricultural production is
inconsistent throughout the region; urban-based systems, for example, employ

less than three percent of the agricultural population on less than one percent of

the land, while costal-plantation systems employ 17 percent of the agricultural

population on nine percent of the available land.

       Approximately 30 percent of the region’s labor force is employed in

agricultural or rural economic activities, which contribute 5.9 percent of the

regional Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (FAO, 2006). The economic importance

of agriculture, however, is highly variable between countries. Agricultural

products account for above 10 percent of overall GDP in eleven of the 33

countries in the region, and up to 32 percent of the overall GDP in the case of

Guyana (Figure 2). In addition, the GDP does not reflect the importance of the

industry to regional development, nor does it account for the strategic importance

of agricultural production to food safety and security in the region.

       According to United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization statistics,

crop (57%) and livestock (43%) production accounted for $185,000 million in

2004 (FAO 2006). The value of crop and livestock production is inconsistent

across country boundaries, with agricultural leaders like Brazil and Argentina

accounting for approximately $110,000 million in 2004, while countries such as

Panama and Haiti accounted for less than $10,000 million (Figure 3). Total crop

value in 2004 can be aggregated as follows: cereals, oilseeds, fruits (21%),

sugar (12%), vegetables (8%), coffee and spices (7%), roots and tubers (5%),

pulses (2.5%), and plant fibers and rubber (2.5%). Total agricultural exports from
the region included crops ($61,000 million), livestock ($13,500 million), forestry

products ($5,800), and fishery products ($7,325 million) (FAO, 2006).

Figure 2                                          Figure 3

       Researchers estimate that agriculture and natural resources activities

account for 160 million hectares of cultivated land in the region, 18 million of

which are equipped for irrigation. An additional 600 million hectares are used for

grazing and pastureland. Approximately 18 percent of the region’s potential for

food, fiber and forestry production is currently being utilized, and only 1 percent

of the available water for irrigation is being utilized (FAO, 2001). The lack of

irrigation employed on-farm may also correlate to the lack of potable water

available in many rural areas. An estimated 39 percent of the region’s rural

population, or approximately 49 million people, have no access to potable water.

Approximately 52 percent of the rural population, or 66 million people, have no

access to basic sanitation facilities (World Bank, 2003). The lack of water
infrastructure in the region’s rural areas, reduces the production potential for

agriculture, and diminishes opportunities for processing value-added products,

which often draw a greater profit than traditional farm products.

       Environmental degradation has come to the forefront of concerns with

regional agriculture and natural resources production. Technology, usually

presented by researchers and U.S. or European agribusiness companies as a

“silver bullet” to solve production problems, is often applied inappropriately, due

to a lack of knowledge on the farmer’s part. Inputs, such as fertilizers, pesticides,

and plant genetic material, are often misused or abused by farmers, whether

intentionally or no. Another concern is the reduction of forestlands, especially in

tropical areas, due to crop production or livestock grazing. It is important to

address these specific concerns when presenting technology and inputs to

farmers involved in participatory programs, in order to prevent the same

problems from occurring in the future.

Challenges to Latin American and Caribbean Agriculture

       Agricultural activities play an important role in the survival of rural and

urban populations in Latin America and the Caribbean. While the importance of

the agriculture and natural resources industry cannot be measured simply in

economic terms, it is important to develop systems of production and trade that

are economically sustainable and integrated within existing traditional farming

systems. Researchers must also account for the smaller average farm size (1-4

hectares) in the region when developing materials; many options that are feasible

on larger, more intensive farms may not be effective on a smaller farm, while the
opposite is also true. In addition, reducing trade barriers and encouraging

sustainable global trade systems is crucial to the survival of regional agriculture.

On a local level, controlling disease and addressing the sustainable use of limited

natural resources and fishery resources is crucial to maintaining current levels of

production, as well as encouraging future expansion of trade markets.

       In order to address challenges to agricultural production on both a local

and regional level, support services maintained by government programs,

farmer’s associations, and non-governmental organizations have been

developed. Services provided are comparable to the extension system in the

United States; services include informational programs, print and radio

educational materials, and farmer research programs. Although the results of

these programs may be immediately positive, they are generally not sustainable

over time (Axinn & Axinn, 1997).

       In the past, the diffusion model was considered the most successful model

for extension education. This model advocated the training and visit system,

where extension workers would visit rural villages or farms, train farmers about

certain technologies or methods, and rely on the farmers to educate their peers.

Farmers participated on this system based upon wealth, literacy and

progressiveness. Unfortunately, transfer of information from this more privileged

class to the rest of the community was limited. As extension workers began to

recognize the flaws of the diffusion model, they became interested in a “bottoms-

up” approach to education. With this approach, farmers from a variety of
backgrounds and status’ determined the agenda, content, methods of

communication, and coordinators of education campaigns.

      Bottoms-up, or participatory systems, are separated into five separate

categories: 1) participation of elites only, who serve as elected representatives

and receive direct benefits of education and research efforts; 2) projects

formulated and employed in the area by governments; 3) local people are

consulted during project development, but not otherwise involved; 4) local

people from different societal and occupation groups are represented in the

planning and evaluating portions of the program; and 5) local representatives

control all decision making. System 3 is the most commonly employed system

now, although the involvement of stakeholders is still fairly limited. Systems 4

and 5 are the rarest among agricultural extension and development programs,

although they are becoming more popular as a solution for addressing current


      Unfortunately, participatory systems, like their earlier counterparts, are not

without flaws. Support workers often assume that farmers are not competent,

with little formal schooling and no advanced degrees. In addition, discrimination

against indigenous groups, younger and older farmers, women farmers, and

those in extreme poverty is still a problem in participatory systems. Information

moves through privileged networks, including male groups, the wealthy upper

classes, and adult leadership.

      To develop a successful participatory program, support service workers

and researchers must address these problems while creating visible options for
farmers, which emphasize the development of feasible, sustainable practices and

training that can be passed on easily; incorporating farmer’s knowledge of the

land, natural resources, climate and other conditions; and facilitating learning for

all groups involved in agricultural activities. In order to address these problems,

researchers must develop a greater understanding of the specific struggles faced

by minority groups in Latin America and the Caribbean, while developing specific

solutions to address these struggles.


       The following rates and projections are derived from the 2007 Statistical

Yearbook for Latin America and the Caribbean (United Nations, 2008). All

regional figures are derived from the estimated totals of 46 economies in Latin

America and the Caribbean: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Aruba,

Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Bolivarian Republic of

Venezuela, Bolivia, Brazil, Cayman Islands, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba,

Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Falklands Islands

(Malvinas), French Guiana, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti,

Honduras, Jamaica, Martinique, Mexico, Montserrat, Netherlands Antilles,

Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint

Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks

and Caicos Islands, United States Virgin Islands and Uruguay.

       The 2007 population of Latin America and Caribbean countries was an

estimated 527 million. The projected total population for the region, based upon
average fertility rates, is estimated to reach 659 million by 2020, and increase to

769 million by 2050.

       The birth rate for the region, defined as the quotient of the mean number

of births occurring during a given period and the average population of the region

during the same period, was measured by the report over five year periods,

starting in 1995. The birth rate for Latin America and the Caribbean, per

thousand inhabitants, was estimated at 23.2 from 1995-2000 and 21.5 from

2000-2005. The rate is expected to consistently decline in the future; the report

estimated a rate of 19.9 from 2005-2010, 18.3 from 2010-2015, and 16.9 from


       The total fertility rate for the region, which measures the average number

of children to be born to a woman during her period of fertility, was also

estimated in five year periods. Between 1995-2000 and 2000-2005, the total

fertility rate for the region was 2.7 and 2.5 children per woman, respectively. This

average is also expected to decline between the periods of 2005-2010, 2010-

2015 and 2015-2020, estimated as 2.4, 2.2 and 2.1 children per woman,


       In 2000, 50.9 percent of the total population of Latin American and the

Caribbean consisted of child dependants, defined as the ratio of children

between 0-14 years of age to the population aged 15-64. This number is

expected to decrease to 43 percent of the total population by 2010, and to 37

percent of the total population by 2020.
       All ratios are variable, however, across national boundaries. Guatemala,

for example, had the highest percentage of child dependants in 2000, with 84.9

percent of the population under 15 years. By 2010, the ratio is expected to

decrease to 76.8 percent, and again to 63.8 percent by 2020. Conversely, child

dependant populations of Cuba and Barbados were reported at 29.7 percent and

29.8 percent, respectively. These ratios are expected to decline slightly, to 24.5

percent and 23.5 percent by 2010, and 21.1 percent and 21.8 percent by 2020,


       Total fertility rates are also variable between countries. Guatemala and

Belize, with the highest reported rates during the 2000-2005 period, had

estimated total fertility rates of 4.6 and 4.0, respectively. Barbados had the

lowest reported total fertility rate, maintaining a rate of 1.5 between the periods of

1995-2000 and 2000-2005.

       While these statistics are minor compared to birth rates in other

developing regions, it is important to note that birth rates and the number of child

dependants in rural areas are often higher in rural areas. Many farming systems,

especially systems that are mechanized, require larger families for agricultural

labor. In these systems, children help with many on-farm tasks, such as weeding,

fertilizing and harvesting, and are crucial to the survival of the farm. In addition,

in rural areas, women often have less education and access to family planning

and contraceptive services. Child mortality is often higher because of large

distances from health facilities; often, large families are “insurance” for replacing
other children, providing cheap labor on-farm, and caring for parents in old age

(Boserup, 1984).

Division of Labor

       The total rural population of Latin America and the Caribbean was

approximately 129 million in 1999, with 110 million classified as agricultural

population (FAO, 2001). Based upon current projections, the agricultural

population of the region in 2030 will have changed little from its current level.

Future actual numbers of people involved in agriculture depend upon the way

farming systems evolve. For example, migration rates of the agricultural

population to rural towns and urban areas are relative to poverty rates in the

area; migration is therefore effected by such agricultural concerns as

international commodity prices, urban growth, and exchange rates.

       The 2007 Statistical Yearbook for Latin America and the Caribbean

reported widely fluctuating percentages of women employed in agriculture across

countries (United Nations, 2008). For example, in 2006, Peru, the highest

reporting country, estimated 33.4 percent of the female employed population was

employed in the agricultural sector. During that same year, Argentina, the lowest

reporting country, estimated 0.3 percent of the female employed population was

employed in the agricultural sector. All estimates are derived based upon

employed female population aged 15 years and up. It is noteworthy, however,

that although only 17 percent of women engaged in agriculture were considered

economically active in the region, a much larger percentage are involved in many

aspects of farming systems. Women contribute to crop and livestock production,
food and fiber processing, and domestic responsibilities beyond farm duties. In

addition, women are vital to the evolution and adaptation of farming systems to

current market trends and new technologies (FAO, 2001).

       According to Food and Agriculture Organization estimates (FAO 2006), 53

percent of the rural population is between the ages of 10 and 32 years old. A

large percentage of rural youth are involved in agriculture and natural resources

activities. This presents concerns with the dissemination of information of

information from young extension workers to older farmers. An additional

concern is targeting information and training to younger farmers, who may not

other wise participate in programs.

Literacy, Education and Access to Opportunities

       The 2007 Statistical Yearbook for Latin America and the Caribbean

estimates the degree of illiteracy in populations aged 15 years and over in Latin

America and the Caribbean. Illiteracy is determined based upon the ability to

both read and write a short statement about everyday life. In 2005, 9.5 percent

of the total population of Latin America and the Caribbean was illiterate. The

illiteracy rate for the total male population of the region was 8.8 percent in 2005,

while the illiteracy rate for the total female population was 10.3 percent (United

Nations, 2008). According to UNESCO, however, the estimated illiteracy rate

does not indicate the disparities that exist within nations and across national

boundaries (UNESCO, 2002). Certain countries, including Argentina, Cuba and

Uruguay, have illiteracy rates of less than five percent. In contrast, 13 percent of

Brazilians, or approximately 16 million people, cannot read or write. The
UNESCO report emphasizes that the “…bulk of these illiterates can be found in

rural areas, among ethnic minorities and the poor.” (2002).

      According to a 2000 UNESCO report, education is compulsory in most

Latin America and Caribbean countries, beginning variably between the ages of

four and seven, and ending between the ages of eleven and seventeen

(UNESCO, 2000). Enrollment in primary school for the region was 93 percent in

2002 (United Nations, 2005). In addition, national aggregates show that boys

and girls have essentially equal access to primary schooling in the region,

although girls are slightly under-represented in some areas of Central America

and the Caribbean. The survival rates to grade five for the region, which

measure the proportion of grade one students who go on to enroll in grade five,

are markedly lower than the access rates. It should also be noted that the

current education system often excludes traditionally marginalized groups,

including indigenous peoples, Afro-Latino populations, and especially girls within

those groups. In Guatemala, for example, indigenous girls are least likely to

have ever been enrolled in school (Figure 4), although evidence suggests that,

once enrolled, excluded girls do as well or better than excluded boys. The

performance levels of majority children, however, are still markedly higher than

those of excluded children in research studies (Figure 5).
Figure 4                                          Figure 5

       Literacy is important, especially for women and the poor, as it helps to

increase the effectiveness of written materials used in education and instruction,

marketing and awareness campaigns, which may be targeted towards these

groups specifically. Access to basic education is also an important factor to

consider when attempting connection with a rural audience. Education levels are

generally lower for those in rural areas, especially those involved in agricultural

production. Developing materials geared towards a more educated audience, for

example using scientific jargon to explain the actions of a pesticide on plant

biology, will not be as effective in reaching a rural audience.


       The 2007 Statistical Yearbook for Latin America and the Caribbean

reported 54.4 percent of rural populations living in poverty; that is, the percentage

of population having incomes amounting to less than twice the cost of a basic

food basket. The report estimates that 40.8 percent of rural populations live in
extreme poverty; extreme poverty is defined as the percentage of population with

incomes amounting to less than the cost of a food basket.

       A recent United States Department of Agriculture report estimates a

sample basic food basket in Latin America to contain 2,170 calories, based upon

region-specific standards recommended by the Food and Agriculture

Organization of the United Nations (Meade & Rosen, 2002). The food basket

formulated by the USDA was based upon a plant-based diet, with a goal to have

65 percent of daily calories from carbohydrates, 20 percent from fat, and 15

percent from protein. Information gathered from nine countries, including Bolivia,

Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras,

Nicaragua, and Peru, was used to determine the importance of food items to

country-specific diets and the average availability and retail price for each item.

Protein within the food basket was drawn from meat, milk and pulses; cereals,

roots, bananas and plantains, and tubers were chosen as carbohydrates;

vegetable oils represented fats.

       The estimation also considers that income is distributed more unevenly in

Latin America than in many other regions of the world. One method for

measuring inequality is the Gini coefficient, which determines the difference

between actual distribution and equal distribution in which every person receives

the exact same income (Morley, 2001). The coefficient varies between zero and

one; zero represents perfect equality, while one represents a hypothetical

situation in which one individual receives all income. The median Gini coefficient

estimated for Latin America has been decreasing since the 1960s (53.2) to the
1990s (49.3). Despite this, the Latin American income distribution has been the

most unequal in the world since the 1960s. According to the USDA, the poorest

20 percent of the population of the region own approximately 3.9 percent of the

national income, while the richest 20 percent own an average of 55.3 percent of

national income (Meade & Rosen, 2002).

       Improving the situation of producers, especially those operating in rural

areas, may help to reduce cases of poverty in the region, as well as provide

economic stimulus to towns and encourage the development of additional

industries. Strengthening rural infrastructure, and increasing the quality of basic

services, will also provide stability and improve the situation of people in the area.

       The prevalence of poverty in the region is noteworthy in relation to high

levels of corruption found in most government and bureaucratic institutions.

Researchers define corruption as the conventional greed and desire for wealth

and power, but have also identified institutional corruption, especially within

services for the poor and underprivileged classes, as maintaining the “self-

interest” of those in power. Essentially, the tradition of patronage and corruption

in Latin America and the Caribbean is being modernized through a bureaucracy,

which creates obstacles through legal systems, paperwork and red tape, and the

mal-distribution of assets. These socially accepted forms of discrimination

against those in poverty must be considered when developing a participatory

program geared toward specific groups. It is important to manage corruption and

ensure that programs serve the interests of stakeholders.
Women in Agriculture

       Women play an important role in the agriculture and natural resources

industry in Latin America and the Caribbean. Researchers, however, often

consider women farmers as a small minority, with little decision-making power

on-farm. Other misconceptions about women farmers include that they are

physically unable to handle agricultural work, their religious or social views will

prevent them from participating, that the heavy workload involved in agricultural

production will “scare” women away, and that men, such as husbands, fathers,

and sons, may prevent women from participating. In addition, researchers often

assume that information presented by education programs is not needed by or

applicable to small-scale, subsistence farms, many of which are ran by women.

       In reality, Women head between 11 and 19 percent of all rural households

(IDRC, 2000). Women farmers are especially important as managers of

resources, such as soil and water, and their specific knowledge of crop traits,

such as texture, color, shelf life, and nutritional content of certain crops. Women

also play a role in domesticating wild species for cultivation, and are often

responsible for local varieties of crops, such as beans, cassava, millet and

groundnuts. Additionally, women farmers tend to have a greater knowledge of all

aspects of the farming system, as they are often responsible for weeding,

planting, harvesting, or marketing crops.

       By documenting women’s attitudes towards certain crops and practices,

researchers may also be able to reduce poverty in the region. According to the

International Development Research Center’s (IRDC) program on Participatory
Research and Gender Analysis, women tend to prefer less labor-intensive crop

varieties, especially early maturity to avoid seasonal hunger. These preferences

are also associated with households in poverty, and researchers should account

for the correlation between these preferences when developing programs to

accommodate women and those in poverty (IRDC, 2000). Reaching out to

women farmers is not only better science, because it records attitudes towards

crops and inputs different from those of male farmers, but it is also cost-effective,

as women are more likely to pass on their knowledge to family members and the


       One of the major challenges facing women in agriculture in the region is

the lack of female extension workers or programs that strive to include women.

Only 14 percent of all extension workers are female (Axinn & Axinn, 1997). Local

Agricultural Research Committees, better known by their Spanish acronym as

CIALs, are an example of existing participatory research programs. CIALS are

locally-elected groups of farmers who test agricultural technology with support

from NGOs. These committees allow farmers to express needs and participate

in designing and implementing technology (World Bank, 2004). CIALs have

been successful in eight Latin American countries. These programs, however,

are not necessarily inclusive to women. In the Cauca region of Colombia, for

example, there are 47 CIALs in operation. Four of these programs are women-

only groups, while the other 43 have a 70 percent male, 30 percent female

makeup (IRDC, 2000).
      Basic solutions to addressing women in participatory research programs

include developing materials specifically for women, including written materials

and educational presentations. In addition, attempting to incorporate women into

existing programs, or adding a women’s component to a pre-existing project,

may be economically feasible. Training more female extension workers, as well

as re/training male extension workers to be more sensitive to the needs of

women farmers, will also help to ensure that women become better incorporated

into participatory research programs. In order to truly serve women farmers and

stakeholders with participatory research programs, researchers and extension

workers must make a conscious effort to direct funding and research towards

these groups and address issues that specifically concern them.

Indigenous Groups

      Indigenous groups account for between 28 and 43 million people in Latin

America and the Caribbean. Indigenous people account for a large portion of the

populations of Mexico (12%), Ecuador (38%), Guatemala (47%), and Peru (40%),

and they are the majority in Bolivia (70%). In Latin America and the Caribbean,

there are more than 800 indigenous groups, each with distinct cultures and

languages. In Mexico alone, there are 56 indigenous groups with 62 separate

languages (Toledo, n.d.). Also, many people who consider themselves as

mestizo may be descended from indigenous people, and may retain many of

their cultural traits; including these groups might increase the estimated number

of indigenous people.
       Based on research about biodiversity, there are 12 countries with house

the highest numbers of species of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians,

freshwater fishes, butterflies, tiger-beetles, and flowering plants; half of those

countries are located in Latin America. The diversity of populations often

coincide with areas of high biodiversity, or “megadiversity” countries, such as

Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Ecuador, and Venezuela. The indigenous

peoples of Brazil, who number only 250,000, possess and maintain an area of

100+ million hectares of land, mostly in the Amazon Basin. Almost 60 percent of

areas recommended for protection in central and southern Mexico are inhabited

by indigenous groups (Toledo, n.d.).

       Researchers may have difficulty differentiating between indigenous and

non-indigenous agricultural populations. Indigenous people may farm alongside,

and use similar practices as, mestizo populations in rural areas. Indigenous

people, however, may employ a greater amount of plant diversity in cropping

systems. In indigenous systems, there is little monoculture, and farmers strive to

conserve plant genetic resources. Indigenous farmers often employ semi-

domesticated and wild relatives of traditional crops, or may plant and harvest

non-domesticated crop species (Coomes & Burt, 1997).

       An additional concern is seasonal movements and traditional rights to land

of indigenous groups. Indigenous groups often maintain communal lands, or

preserve traditional migration patterns throughout the year. Researchers must

be sensitive to these movements when reaching out to indigenous populations.
In addition, many indigenous groups have traditionally been marginalized and

often have little representation in local government or access to basic services.

       A successful participatory research program that addresses the concerns

of indigenous people will incorporate and apply the traditional knowledge of plant

and animal systems of these groups. In addition, researchers will create

programs that are culturally sensitive, including providing bilingual male and

female extension workers. Participatory programs should encourage

conservation efforts in areas of high biodiversity, and apply existing conservation

practices of indigenous groups. Finally, programs should attempt to empower

indigenous groups in the local community, by encouraging equal and fair

representation and treatment for indigenous and non-indigenous people.

Future Potential

       In the future, extension workers and researchers must refocus their efforts

to address the needs and concerns of marginalized and underrepresented

groups. Performing further research into the dynamics of groups, determining

their specific needs, and developing strategies for addressing concerns will be

important steps towards ensuring the efficacy of programs. Participatory

programs have the potential to provide stability to areas and groups in extreme

poverty, and to provide an additional source of income to move individuals

beyond subsistence farming and increase export values. Outreach efforts can

also provide a solution to many environmental degradation concerns, by teaching

the proper employment of inputs and technology. Increasing the effectiveness of

participatory programs will lead to a greater understanding of agricultural
problems abroad, and allow for the development creative solutions which

incorporate traditional knowledge and the concerns of all stakeholder groups.

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Coomes, O.T., & Burt, G.J. (1997). Indigenous market-oriented agroforestry: dissecting

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United Nations. (2005). The Millennium Development Goals: A Latin American and

       Caribbean perspective. United Nations Publications: Santiago, Chile.

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