A participatory research model was used where farmer-researcher teams (FRT) were formed with representatives chosen by villagers to provide more information about the management options of the legume technologies. In this ‘horizontal’ model of research and extension, the FRT helped conduct applied research for the larger community based on the specific needs, interests and norms of the population to be served. Five different legume technologies (including seed) were offered to farmers based on earlier diversification research in central and southern Malawi as follows: groundnut (peanut) and pigeon pea intercrop (year one) rotated with maize (year two); soybean and pigeon pea intercrop (year one) rotated with maize (year two); maize and pigeon pea intercrop; Mucuna cover crop rotated with maize; and Tephrosia vogelii relay intercrop with maize.
Unlike conventional “top down” technology transfer extension models, the success of this
legume diversification project underscores the importance of participatory research and extension
methodologies to address the complex social factors—community needs, gender dynamics,
access—that influence new technology adoption in agriculture.