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Whether it is for policy, strategy, developing resilience or extension there is a need to engage effectively with the farmers we work with, and often the communities that support them. The purpose of this paper is to outline and discuss an approach that puts farmers at the positive centre of the process, and begins with what is working well and generates new ideas from this positivity. The engagement uses a process known as Appreciative Inquiry which is both a philosophical approach and a practical tool. It approaches challenges from a positive mindset, building on what is working well, rather than a deficit approach of starting where something is broken. It draws out ideas as a proactive inquiry rather than a presentation of existing findings. This proactive engagement of farmers helps bring forward the diverse complexities and interrelationships that all need to align for successful extension or any other interaction to take place. An example is given of an on-farm Appreciative Inquiry workshop. The approach works best in a group where the participants can leverage off each other’s ideas and energy, and works most effectively for complex issues where the solution may not be obvious or easy.

Keywords: Extension, Policy, Strategy, Engagement, Appreciative Inquiry, Change

New Zealand

Author(s): McKenzie P. (1)

Organization(s): Change for Good Consulting (1)

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