The paper describes the facilitated learning process of farm households and district policy makers in addressing the problem of soil nutrient depletion. The process is applied in a case study in four districts in Kenya and Uganda during the period 1997-1999, where the potentials of low-external input technologies (LEIA) in addressing the soil nutrient depletion problem were assessed. Working through an inclusive process of dialogue, observation, diagnosis, experimentation and exposure to different types of knowledge, participants made a thorough analysis of the current soil fertility situation and tested various LEIA options for improving soil fertility management. In all four research sites the future agricultural productivity is threatened by soil nutrient depletion. Maximal use of locally available nutrients through LEIA techniques, combined with optimal use of external nutrients appears to be the most appropriate strategy in the existing economic environment. Long-term and intensive collaboration between research institutions on the one hand and extension services, non-government and community based organisations on the other are a prerequisite for a successful and sustainable implementation of a facilitated learning approach. Involvement of stakeholders in the various stages of the research process, including the planning and project formulation is essential for an effective follow-up and implementation of the results. More attention needs to be paid to the development of communication tools to enable an effective interaction between policy makers and researchers. (C) 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
- monitoring nutrient flows