Review agricultural extension materials

Based on the guideline on review and providing quality assurance of extension materials, I am working on the review of the collected materials for uploading on the extension web portal of MAFF.

The materials need to be good design, inclusion, gender mainstreaming, climate smart agriculture, farm business and food safety. All of these criteria are important and fit to the current context of farming, market, and food consumption.

For the gender mainstreaming, it is difficult to find the materials incorporated with strengthened women’s roles in leadership and management. Another thing is about the greenhouse gas emission, some materials only explain the adaptation measures, but not reduction of greenhouse gas emission.

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Review agricultural extension materials

Extension material validation workshop

30 May 2017: To update and finalize the guideline for review and providing quality assurance of extension materials, a consultation workshop was organized with 33 stakeholders, including private sector, Non-Governmental organizations, government specialized agencies.

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Main discussion topics were key criteria, assessment / scoring methods, validation process and competency of reviewers and developers. The results was very helpful for improving the drafted guideline. At the same time, the participants who came from relevant agencies were also informed what MAFF/ASPIRE program is doing now in relation to improved quality of extension materials.

Extension material validation workshop

Training for extension material development

18-19 May 2017: Twenty six officials from different government departments such as Provincial Departments of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (PDAFF) from the five target provinces of the ASPIRE program, Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE), Royal University of Agriculture, Department of Agricultural Machinery, MAFF information and document center (AIDOC) have improved their understanding and technical skills in extension material development.

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Participants of the training in Kampong Cham

Referring to the national agricultural extension policy, the extension material is used as complement tools for improved extension service delivery. Improved capacity of technical staffs to develop good quality extension materials is very necessary to change the knowledge and behavior of the farmers to adopt / adapt new innovations, including climate resilience, farm business, etc.

The training was conducted at Phnom Pros Hotel, in Kampong Cham province. Training facilitator was Mr. Huot Kieu, a national consultant of the ASPIRE program.

Main topics of the training were:

  • General concept of agricultural extension
  • Process of extension material development
  • Techniques in Effective Extension Materials Development
  • Guidelines for Extension Materials Development Training Course

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Training for extension material development

ASPIRE Progress Review Meeting

Agricultural Services Programme for Innovation, Resilience and Extension (ASPIRE) conducted a meeting chaired by H.E. Mam Am Not, program director. The purpose of the meeting was to review the progress of the program implementation and direction for moving forward.

During the meeting, each responsible person / consultant presented the progress of his/her assignment compared to the work plan. It was noticed that it is good that second Agricultural Extension Advisory Committee (AEAC) was organized and the guideline on roles and responsibilities for those who involved in agricultural extension is developed. In the meeting, Knowledge and ICT advisor raised about Interactive Voice Response System (IVRS) recently tested with farmers in the ASPIRE program’s target provinces. Calling from operator is more effective – at least 10% of the interviewed farmers responded and completed the interview with the operator. Meaning that IVRS might not work for this moment.

I myself presented collection and review of extension materials. In the first quarter of 2017, I have collected 580 extension materials, or it is accumulated that 1187 materials have been collected in total since I started working for ASPIRE from December 2016. A guideline on review and validation of extension materials was developed, factsheet was written, and a validation workshop to be held by end of April 2017.

In general, the programme has achieved good results. Most of the program activities have been implemented as (first quarter) work plan. However, the team also need to speed up the implementation of some activities such as Extension Hub, web portal, quality assurance of service providers, quality assurance of extension materials, etc.

For the coming months, the team is planning for more TOT training, workshops, Farmer Demand Assessment (FDA), etc. More agricultural extension materials will be published for small farmers, extension agents. This would help to improve farm production and productivity, at the same time, market linkage that is profitable for small farmers in target areas.

ASPIRE Progress Review Meeting

Cooperation meeting with WFP

21 March 2017 I and ASPIRE team members participated in a meeting with WFP. The key topics discussed: brief about the ASPIRE program, brief about activities/program of WFP, potential areas of cooperation between ASPIRE and WFP. It was a fruitful meeting. ASPIRE and WFP have many potential areas for cooperation. Below are the highlight of key potential areas of cooperation discussed during the meeting:

  • Potential cooperation #1: WFP is implementing Home Grown School Feeding Program. Schools need agricultural products from farmers / farmer groups in local areas. Therefore, ASPIRE can support its farmers / farmer groups to improve agricultural production, then facilitate supply of products to the school feeding program.
  • Potential cooperation #2: WFP also work with commune councils (at the commune level), especially enable the commune councils to realize their Commune Investment Program (CIP)/Commune Development Plan (CDP). Current constraint of the commune council is limited budget to implement the plan in reality. WFP suggested that it is good if ASPIRE can support commune councils in this area, especially the economic and physical infrastructure sectors.
  • Potential cooperation #3: Under the component 4 of ASPIRE, it is much similar to the WFP’s Food for Work Program – improving water / irrigation infrastructures.
  • Potential cooperation #4: WFP also promote household agricultural production (e.g. vegetable growing, chicken raising, fish raising, system of rice intensification…). This is quite similar to the Component 3 of the ASPIRE Program.
  • Potential cooperation #5: WFP is support government (MAFF, ministry of education, youth and sport…) to digitalize the data from field level to national level. This may be relevant to ASPIRE’s Extension Hub.
  • Potential cooperation #6: WFP is also planning to conduct community analysis. This can be done together with the ASPIRE Program if the scope of work and areas of study are similar.

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Cooperation meeting with WFP

Initial Collaboration Meeting Between the ASPIRE/MAFF and FAO

IMG_1688The meeting organized at FAO, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on 27 March 2017, from 10 a.m. to 11:30 am. FAO Team consisted of Mr. Oum Kosal, FAOR assistant, Mr. Chea Chanthan, Coordinator of Life and Nature project, and Mr. Chheng Channy, Communication Officer. MAFF/ASPIRE Team comprised of Mr. Renato Lee, Programme Advisor, Team Leader, Mr. Philip Charlesworth, Public Private Partnerships Advisor, Mr. Chin Samouth, Deputy Program Manager, Agriculture Extension, and Mr. Yim Soksophors, Consultant to Review Training Materials on Agriculture Extension.

The meeting started with self-introduction by each participant, followed by the presentation on the objective of the meeting by Mr. Chin Samouth. Key topics discussed during the meeting were: Climate smart agriculture, Farmer field school / Farm business school, Integrated Pest Management, and potential areas of cooperation between the ASPIRE Porgram and FAO. Mr. Chin Samouth provided a brief presentation on ASPIRE by discussing on the Programme Goals, Development Objectives, and the various components. Mr. Chea Chanthan briefly described the project “Strengthening the adaptive capacity and resilience of rural communities using micro-watershed approaches to climate change and variability to attain sustainable food security in Cambodia” or it is called “Life and Nature Project”.

The first discussion started from Climate Smart Agriculture. Mr. Chin Samouth emphasized that the ASPIRE program is implementing the FFS approach and try to integrate climate resilience / climate smart agriculture into the FFS training curriculum. Mr. Chea Chanthan said that FAO Life and Nature project has piloted the CSA-FFS in its target areas and has worked closely with GDA to development CSA-FFS training curriculum. The curriculum is being tested in the field. Good practices and lessons-learned will be documented for sharing and updated from time to time.

Integration of Climate Smart Agriculture into the FFS training curriculum: FAO Life and Nature project is piloting CSA-FFS. Lessons-learned, good practices will be captured for sharing. Exchange visits for farmers between ASPIRE and FAO can be done to exchange knowledge, experience, technologies related to climate smart agriculture.

FAO Life and Nature project is organizing the national forum on Climate Smart Agriculture on 28 April 2017. The purpose is to share knowledge and experience in climate smart agriculture. Lessons-learned or good practices from the field will be discussed and shared during the forum. Climate resilience is one of the key principles of ASPIRE, therefore there should be cooperation or jointly activities in this field.

Initial Collaboration Meeting Between the ASPIRE/MAFF and FAO

Gender Roles in Agricultural Marketing – Agricultural Marketing Information Service – Cambodia

Women play important roles in all areas of the agricultural sector. From farming, through transport, wholesale, retail to the consumer; women are present throughout the marketing chain.

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In order to better understand the issues that female Cambodian traders of agricultural produce face, AMI carried out interviews in four markets.

These are some of the common issues that the interviewees were concerned about:

  • Workload
    Female traders tend to have heavy workloads, as they must take care of their families as well as run a business. Unlike male traders who that are often physically stronger, female traders often have to hire additional help to assist them in lifting and carrying produce.
  • Unsupportive Husbands
    Several interviewees reported that their husbands do not help them with their business or household responsibilities. Some traders reported that their husbands were regularly drunk, and sometimes physically abusive.
  • Debt
    Some traders reported severe financial problems that are amplified by the exorbitant interest rates (up to 20%) charged by money lenders, to whom traders turn when facing cash flow problems. Such debt is often carried by the women alone, who are either afraid to tell their husbands as doing so may cause conflict, or they receive little or no support even if their husbands do know of the debt.
  • Security
    Female traders can face security risks, as some need to sleep at their market stalls in order to purchase produce from suppliers in the early hours of the morning. This affects widows in particular, as they are at risk from being alone at their stalls, and their families are at risk from being alone at home.

In general, female traders showed a greater knowledge of the agricultural market than their male counterparts. Many showed an interest in receiving training to assist in the gender issues they face, and enthusiasm to work with AMI to improve their business skills.

Source: Gender Roles in Agricultural Marketing – Agricultural Marketing Information Service – Cambodia

Gender Roles in Agricultural Marketing – Agricultural Marketing Information Service – Cambodia