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Abstract

There is extensive use of participatory approaches to research and development with the aim of involving farmers. These include Participatory Technology Development, Participatory Rural Appraisal and Farmer Field Schools. These approaches have been criticized for focusing on deficits, rather than the assets of the communities. Appreciative Inquiry tool is now being integrated into participatory research processes. The study aimed at using participatory tools and appreciative inquiry to enhance farmers’ understanding of opportunities available to them and the interventions that should be put in place to maximize these strengths to enhance food security in the adopted villages of the Institute of Agricultural Research and Training. The results showed that Appreciative inquiry is complementary to the other participatory approaches and that rural communities have unique resources and assets that can enhance food security. The rural communities were able to establish their capabilities, turn them into opportunities and map out interventions for improved livelihoods. It showed that using this approach is a pathway for identifying and mobilizing communities’ assets and building their capacities to be active players in determining their destiny, based on their unique circumstances. The paper concluded that focusing more on what works in a community can lead to positive changes. Integrating appreciative inquiry into participatory processes is an excellent way of generating new ideas and action for food security and more sustainable livelihoods. A paradigm shift toward appreciative modes of probing, planning, and intervention for sustainable development was recommended.

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