Organizing training on facilitation skill and leadership

Under the Life and Nature project, FAO in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment (MOE) organized a 3-day training from 21 to 23 July 2015, in PDE office in Preah Vihear town, for 28 local authorities and stakeholders (3 women), the participants consisted of commune councilors, PDE officials, community rangers from four pilot sites (Ratanakiri, Preah Vihear, Siem Reap and Kampong Thom provinces).

Co-Trainer: Ms. Long Sophary

Co-Trainer: Ms. Long Sophary

The objectives of the training was to enable the community representatives to prepare and present related issues of their communities for the project inception workshop that expected to be organized on 17 August 2015 in Phnom Penh. The first day of the training mainly focused on the general concept of the project, climate change, watershed management, and gender. The second day discussed facilitation and presentation skills needed for the participants to prepare their presentations for the project inception workshop, and finally exercises on the presentation, reflection on the training and planning were conducted in the third day of the training. It is important to notice that adult learning methodologies (such as small group discussion, plenary presentation, question and answer forum…) were used during the training.

Training participants

Training participants

As a result, the participants have gained understanding and skills that will enable them to prepare for the project inception workshop. The trainers have identified some potential participants in each project sites to be invited to attend and make presentation of their communities in the project inception workshop. At the same time, this training has built a good cooperation and communication between FAO and the MOE to smoothly implement the Life and Nature project.

Participatory Enterprise Development Training

A Participatory Enterprise Development Training was the last training session organized by EU-MALIS project before its completion by end of June 2015. The objective of the training was to investigate farmers’ behaviors and to find out how the farmers can increase their income from rice (rice production and selling). This training also informed the farmers, local authorities and stakeholders about a new FAO’s project, called “Life and Nature project”.

self introduction

self introduction

Mr. Terry Davis was the main trainer (he is an Australian volunteer with FAO-EU MALIS project). First, the training was organized for 12 FAO staffs to enable them to facilitate the same training process for 17 farmers and commune councilors (7 women) in the second stage. Additionally, two government officials from Agriculture Department and District Agriculture Office also participated as the observers and speaker during the training. Participatory Learning approach / Adult Learning methodologies were used during the training. Terry said “the main tool for adult learners is question”, this means that the learners are encouraged to raise questions and to make decision by themselves. Main topics of the training focused on target setting, calculation of gross margin from rice, price trend analysis, sharing of weakness and strength from existing rice cultivation practices, sharing of experience from average farmers on rice production practices, discussion on post-harvest and selling, sharing of experience and recommendation from the best farmers and technical experts (from FAO and PDA), and finally the participants jointly prepared their action plans what they should do to double income from rice.

Presenting the group discussion result

Presenting the group discussion result

As a result from the training, the farmers have gained ideas how they can improve their income from rice, the action plans were raised by the farmers, and those action plans are useful the Life and Nature project to design FFS training curriculum and interventions for Kulen Chheung commune, Preah Vihear province.  The farmers, commune councilors and other local stakeholders have gained more detail about the Life and Nature project.  The farmers, commune councilors and government officials from Agriculture Department/Office would continue good cooperation with the Life and Nature project. General Observations:

  • Calculation of the margin from the small group discussion is much different. This is because of some farmers included the fixed cost, and some other farmers did not include the fixed cost.
  • Speaking skill / presentation skills of the best farmers need to be further improved
  • A woman commune Councillor responsible for women and children is active to participate with the project – she can be a potential commune Councillor to work with
  • When the best farmers shared their experience, mostly focused on the solution but not much about the prevention
  • The training seemed more focus on the technical rice production, but not much about enterprise development. Perhaps, the farmers came out with just technical aspect at the first session of the training, and they will put more focus on the enterprise development in the next sessions.
  • Action plan should be prepared by the farmers, not the project staff. The project staff should not dominate the discussion – next time, farmers themselves should be the facilitators, the project staff can be the observers and help to motivate the discussion

Raised bed gardening used for vegetable planting in the peak raining season

According to vegetable farmers in Svay Rieng province, Cambodia, the peak raining season is normally from August to October 2015. Most of the vegetable farmers stop vegetable planting during this period of time due to too much rain, it created water-logging and the vegetables cannot grow well under this condition. This means that the farmers lost their food and income during these three months (Aug-Oct).

On 12 May 2015, the SNV Climate Smart Agriculture Project in cooperation with the Provincial Department of Agriculture of Svay Rieng province and Cambodian Farmer Associations Federation of Agricultural Producers (CFAP) organised a training for 28 farmer leaders from 6 communes in Svay Chrum district on the raised bed gardening. This technique can be considered as a climate smart agricultural technique because it enables the farmers to grow vegetables in the peak raining season. Farmers who experienced in applying this technique said that it is also a good water saving technique, therefore it can be also applied in the duration of water shortage.  It is easy for water and soil management.

Photo of the raised bed garden is shown below

Photo from Kuy Vutha (facebook)

Raised bed gardening applied by a vegetable farmer in Kampong Chhnang province Photo from Kuy Vutha (facebook)

Actually, the raised bed gardening is not a new technique. Some farmers have already applied this technique, but adoption of this technique is still low. There are some observation on this technique, some people said that this technique is more appropriate for commercial farmers who produce vegetables for market supply rather the subsistence farmers who produce for family consumption. Perhaps, high investment is needed for applying this technique. For instance, construction cost of the raised bed garden could be a constraint for some (small) farmers. To address this challenge, the project will work with relevant local stakeholders to make it economically cost-effective.

Photo from Kuy Vutha (Facebook)

Photo from Kuy Vutha (Facebook)

The climate smart agriculture project will work with several farmers to test this innovation during this raining season. If it is successfully applied with fruitful result, it is expected that other farmers will adopt this technique to make more income from vegetable growing in the peak raining season.

Intercropping is the key for climate resilient soil fertility improvement in cassava production

SNV Netherlands Development Organisation has implemented an Asia Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) Project in Tboung Khmum province since the beginning of 2014 in four countries (Cambodia, Lao PDR, Nepal and Bhutan). In Cambodia, Tboung khmum is the target province of the CSA project, the project mainly work on improve cassava production through the application of climate resilient soil fertility improvement and to improve water use efficiency in family’s vegetable production in Svay Rieng province. Improving adaptive capacity of the cassava farmers is the main focus of the project. This would enable them to cope with climate change and variability through application of climate smart agriculture approach. Through the climate change vulnerability and impact assessment conducted by SNV in February 2014, depletion of soil fertility is the main challenge facing by the cassava farmers in the project’s areas. The depletion of soil fertility can be a result of monocropping application for many years. Therefore, the CSA project introduces “intercropping practice” to the cassava farmers. The project cooperated with several farmers to conduct trials “intercropping between cassava and legumes” in 2014. The result showed increase in yield, soil fertility improvement, and soil-water holding capacity. This is interesting to replicate this successful practices to other cassava farmers in the project’s areas.

Training for cassava farmers in Chhouk Sandal village, Tboung Khmum

Training for cassava farmers in Chhouk Sandal village, Tboung Khmum

Cassava production is applied by more than 75% of total families in project’s target villages. But the same land is used from year to year for planting the cassava without crop rotation or intercropping practice, this resulted in depletion of soil fertility and yield. The CSA project introduces climate resilient soil fertility practices (specifically, improved soil water retention capacity) to the cassava farmers.

As a climate smart agriculture advisor, Mr. Yim Soksophors works closely with relevant government officials from Provincial Department of Agriculture of Tboung Khmum province, and local NGO (Vigilance staff) to organise series of training for cassava farmers in Tboung Khmum province. One round of the training organised in March, and this is the second round of the training sessions organised by the project. For the second round organised from 22 to 24 April 2015, 6 training sessions were organised with the participation of 117 farmers (79 women).

The training’s topic mainly focused on intercropping, detail training contents shown below:

  • Introduction to the participants about SNV and the CSA project
  • Review previous training from March 2015 (soil fertility improvement)
  • New training topic for this round is “Intercropping practices in cassava production”
  • Other soil fertility improvement practices included (such as use of natural fertiliser, compost, cover crop/green manure, etc.)
  • Pest insect control / treatment of cassava cutting stems before planting
Training for cassava farmers in Prophat village, Tboung Khmum

Training for cassava farmers in Prophat village, Tboung Khmum

SNV, PDA and Vigilance staffs co-facilitated the trainings. They encouraged farmers to use natural fertiliser rather than using chemical fertiliser and pesticide for soil improvement and pest control. As a result, the farmers are aware of intercropping practices, some farmers interested to apply intercropping in a plot of land to experiment this practice in this season. Other farmers have learned how to select and prepare healthy cassava cutting stems, treatment of the cassava cutting stems before planting, etc. The project expected that the farmers will apply these practices in this new planting season.

Through organising these trainings, the project has engaged different partners and stakeholders, such as the Provincial Department of Agriculture of Tboung Khmum province, Vigilance (local organisation) and local authorities (village chief, commune chief). Those stakeholders have improved their knowledge of CSA approach, etc. More importantly, this engagement will provide a bigger room for cooperation among those stakeholders.

Rains came during the training, so it was a challenge to invite farmers to attend the training while majority of them were buy with the preparation of the cassava cutting stems and soil plowing for the cassava planting in this new season. For next actions, we will carry out the following activities:

  • Organise another round of training and provide individual follow-up visit and advice to ensure that the farmers will demonstrate what they have learned from the project to other farmers in their villages.
  • The project may consider to provide some legume seeds for farmers to apply intercropping practices in cassava production.

Thank Vigilance organisation for organising the trainings. Thank Mr. You Tainghy and Mr. Chansophal PDA officials for providing technical knowledge on intercropping practices to the farmers, and finally thank farmers for active participation in the training.

Wind pump handover to communities in Svay Rieng

Svay Rieng: On March 10, 2015 a meeting organised to handover 2 wind pumps to communities in Kampong Chamlang commune and Sangkat Chek in Svay Rieng province. Windpump management committees, members of windpump user groups, village chief, commune Councillor and CFAP (including director and agriculture advisor), and staff of SNV’s climate smart agriculture project participated in the meeting.

Windpump

Windpump

windpump handover video clip

windpump handover video clip

It is to notice that, under the climate smart agriculture project, 2 windpumps were installed for farmers. Farmers used the wind pump to pump water from nearby natural water reservoir to irrigate their rice field, some farmers also applied vegetable growing in the dry season.

Through the use of windpump, farmers can save at least 50% of total expense on diesel, but they need to maintain the windpump regularly.

To be sustained, some key points need to be considered:

  • windpump management committees need to have sufficient capacity to manage and operate their groups (e.g. agricultural production planning, water distribution, water fee collection, conflict resolution, etc.)
  • both windpump management committee and group members need to have strong ownership and participation in sustainable use and maintenance of the wind pump;
  • local repairers are available for maintenance and repairing of the windpump in case of minor repairing is needed. Local repairers should be paid for their work;
  • good communication between user groups and wind pump suppliers in case of spare part or big repairing is needed;
  • support from local authorities (village chief, commune Councillor…) is needed.

Link technology supplier to farmers

27 February 2015, Svay Rieng province: Two field demonstration conducted in Svay Chrum district of Svay Rieng province. The demonstration of treadle pumps, fruit fly trap and rice planting machine were interested by farmers in this community. A woman farmer in Svay Taplor village said “after testing the use of treadle pump, I think that I will save time and labour to carry water from pond to irrigate my vegetables”

DSC_3374

According to BB2C, the manufacturer of this tool, the cost of treadle pump 120$/unit. It can be linked with sprinkler system to be used for irrigation purpose. Fruit fly trap looked very effective in pest insect control, and the cost 6$/unit. The rice planting machine is about 600$/unit. This may be affordable with group of farmers or farmer association rather than individual farmers to purchase it. However, it needs to further improve to make it more applicable in the field. Short clip of the field demonstration in Svay Taplor village is here for your view https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHm90A7-BE4

Regional Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) Workshop in Frangipani Hotel, Phnom Penh,

The meeting aimed to update the progress and develop CSA models that fit CSA global models. The meeting was organised with 10 CSA team members in Frangipani Hotel, Phnom Penh from 16-18th February 2015, and a field visit to Svay Rieng province conducted from 19 to 20 February 2015.

Participants of the CSA meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Participants of the CSA meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Mr. Erik, SNV-Cambodia country director provided speech to open the meeting. He put main focus on development of CSA models that fit CSA models at the global level. Additionally, he added that CSA technologies much be profitable to farmers.

Below is the CSA models at the global level.

CSA model

Other key topic discussed in the meeting were case study, CSA communication, monitoring and evaluation, including theory of change (ToC), indicators for measuring outcome and resilience, and gender sensitive.

ToC is a living document and may call for adjustment where necessary and where new information is gained.

Each of the country team from Cambodia, Lao, Bhutan and Nepal presented the progress of the CSA project, theory of change, as well as supported needed in terms of business development, communication and gender integration.

The participants also discussed about role and responsibilities of the CSA team in doing the business development.

Some points to be added into the CSA intervention were soil testing, CSA needs to consider all spectra of production, cost benefit analysis, etc.

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