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General Introduction to Poor Farmers Sharing at COSOP 2011

A very creative workshop process was expected for the COSOP last December in Phnom Penh. Adding to an original table arrangements and the facilitation of an expert team, a group of 3 poor farmers was also invited to express their feedback to national and international decision makers.

To bring the voices of these poor farmers to the workshop, in total 3 provinces were selected. In these provinces, the Sub-national Agriculture Departments gave their assistance to select three outstanding farmers. Each of them was then screened (11 farmers in total), and only three were selected to join the workshop.

Each of one them was given a digital camera and debriefed rapidly on the expectations at the workshop and how to use the camera. They then had one week to prepare to express themselves on the issues of « Learning, Revolving funds and market opportunities ». With only a day left before the workshop, they all met in Phnom Penh for a final round of presentation reviews. With a bit of help, photos were selected and arranged to fit the messages prepared. The power-point presentations were ready!

There were good surprises: one of the oldest farmers – who could hardly find the push button to make pictures when she first got hold of the camera, made a real photo report about her farmer group at work. The photos were very useful to keep the farmers on track to express them-selves and helped to tell audiences present about the most important things for them.

The exercise was also rapidly matched with the communication activities of IFAD: the trainees of the online sharing community immediately made interviews of the farmers that were uploaded directly on the site. If you are interested, you can see presentations and interviews of these farmers made by the participants of the IFAD online sharing community training here.


Read the stories: What makes poor farmers break the cycle of poverty?

Read the stories of three devoted farmers that are breaking the cycle of poverty with entrepreneurship, a strong social drive and increased resilience to climate change. A common thread between them is the ability to help improve farming and animal husbandry practices trough knowledge transfer and revolving funds: something unique about the IFAD Farmer Groups.

Case study 1: Kol Pien – Svay Rieng

The spirit of entrepreneurship helped Kol Pien steer his life out of poverty, thanks to learning new techniques with the IFAD Farmer groups

Photo: Kol Pien shows us his pump

–      to view Kol Pien’s case-study, click here


Case study 2: Ty Saoly – Prey Veng

The understanding and generosity of Ty saoly makes her a respected and trusted member of the Revolving Fund. Will she manage to collect all the due payments this year?

Photo: Mrs Ty Saoly’s vegetable garden

–      to view Ty Saoly’s case-study, click here


Case study 3: Roath Rasmey – Preah Vihear

Access to markets is now just in reach of Rath RTasmey. There is a new road in front of her house and she has just now managed to rear enough pigs to start selling.

Photo: Mrs Rath rasmey and her family near the pigsty.

–      to view Rasmey’s case-study click here


Lessons Learned:

The experience raised important points:

-Most poor farmers do not have large enough land to access larger markets without the use of improved farming techniques. Poor Farmers largely improved their livelihoods thanks to learning about appropriate farming techniques and this helped them adopt new technologies.

-Farmer groups particularly appreciated the IFAD revolving fund system over most others available to them because it offered flexibility with commonly agreed interests rates that best fit the poorest. Bringing the fund management at the grassroots helped poor farmers commit to pay back.

-Access to key markets (rice) is already being promoted where buyers have good access to the poor farmers who otherwise rely on local markets to sell their alternative goods (vegetables).


Integrating the voices of the poor people in the development of future programs, helped to better indicate needs at the grassroots. It is not easy as many farmers find it hard to express themselves to policy makers. Farmers felt very good to be valued in this way and showed good levels of participation, despite the challenges of facing a new and different environment. Scaling up efforts are envisaged in future communication efforts.


Below: A truck comes to pick up rice from Mr Hy Mao, Preah Viehear. Most rice farmers will simply choose the best offer from drive-by buyerssuch as this one. The rice is brought to Kompong Thom where it is gathered and sold by larger clients – for export.

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Thanks Cedric for posting this account of how you helped bring the perspectives of the people that projects are designed to support into the meeting rooms and put them into direct contact with people who make decisions on their behalf. It sounds like the way you helped people to take photos to capture scenes and images that convey their circumstances and ideas may have been even more empowering to the farmers than instructive for the meeting participants. I wonder what your lessons learned were as the facilitator. Could you do a short (informal) blog about how you would do this again next time and the situations in which you think this would be most appropruiate and have the biggest impact?

Posted on 2/7/12 5:57 AM.

Hello Chase,
Thanks for the questions and interest. I am now writing a little article about this.

Posted on 2/8/12 7:50 AM in reply to Chase Palmeri.