Cambodia Cambodia Lessons learned on a photo-report initiative for poor farmers Cedric Joel Jancloes 2012-02-08T08:48:29Z 2012-02-08T07:53:34Z <p> <strong>The use of digital photography recently helped poor farmers in rural Cambodia to feel more confident about expressing themselves to donors and programme managers (see COSOP CAMBODIA 2011). </strong></p> <p> <strong>Lessons learned as facilitator:</strong></p> <p> The poorest often can not read or write. This is the thinking that spurred the idea of providing digital cameras to poor farmers. This way their situation could be explained visually. The intended purpose was for them to be able to participate in the conference and this tool worked extremely well for this purpose. But when I started this work, it was hard to imagine poor farmers coming to the conference with their powerpoint presentations. I felt I tasked myself with a 'mission impossible' !</p> <p> My challenge was time: to travel to meet to screen, to select and ultimately to give basic training to each farmer on the use of the camera and to lead them to build a logical sequence of information to present at the conference. The basic plan was to have each person define a set of facts to describe their role and situation. For each of those facts, I asked them to show it with a photo. The cameras were very useful because it gave them time (a few days) to work on the presentations alone. But it also helped them to settle the information in their heads and create a sequence in their speech.They key advantage of this technique is that it helped me to keep them on tracks with their presentation plans.</p> <p> What I also learned as a facilitator is that this process gave a multiple positive inputs and largely helped the quality of the communications. Each photo meant something very specific to the farmer who took it and each photo helped them to remember key facts to discuss and present. Some of the photos convey messages that would otherwise not be expressed. This is important to consider as often, policy makers and many project staffs have little time to visit the field. Photos can be great to account of a situation and without words, give feeling and emotions. It builds confidence in story telling - and sets the building blocks for a better communication process.</p> <p> <strong>Replicablity:</strong></p> <p> This tool can be used quite cost effectively and it means that there is also scope for replicating or scaling up such methods. The cameras I had purchased cost under 100 usd each. This is still too high for national range - scaling up, but there are other existing options that I could have used: mobile phones. Many people even in rural areas have mobile phones. Some of them have cameras on them. As new technologies develop, we have the chance to reconsider how we can better include the poorest in our communication processes.</p> <p> This brings me to my final point: the most important lesson was not about photography and its benefits. The biggest lesson was that when given a chance to express themselves, poor farmers will make strong contributions to a program. In this specific case, time was missing to develop a strategic behavioral communication strategy but the experience shows that the potential is there. Integrating the voices and the participation of farmers in the programme implementation process is a sure way to improve impact and efficiency.</p> <p> <img alt="" src=";groupId=13219&amp;t=1328694068002&amp;custom1=true" style="width: 400px; height: 300px; float: right; margin: 10px;" /></p> <p>  </p> <p>  </p> <p> <em><strong>N.B</strong>. This article is written in response to comments received in a previous blog about the poor farmers and the COSOP conference in Cambodia last December: <strong>What were the lessons learned for me as a facilitator? Could this be replicated in other situations, and</strong> <strong>could this be scaled up for a bigger impact?</strong></em> I hope this blog inspires you to comment and participate further in defining good tools, models and approaches to better communicate for development.</p> Cedric Joel Jancloes 2012-02-08T07:53:34Z Case Study 1: Kol Pien in Svay Rieng Province Cedric Joel Jancloes 2012-01-30T08:18:28Z 2012-01-30T08:09:10Z <p> There is something unusual about Mr Kol Pien: he never stops to work and is obsessed about learning more. His land is spick&amp;span clean and as functional as can be – a kind of permaculture dreamland where not an inch of soil is wasted.</p> <p> Yet Mr. Kol Pien used to be one of the poorest farmers in the area. He laughs as he speaks to his chicken: ‘You don’t know how lucky you are – my house used to be smaller than your shelter!’. This farmer managed his way out of poverty through his relentless entrepreneurship. He recalls watching an ad on tv about biogas and told himself he could do it – so the next day, he went to the market, got the materials and made his own biogas system. He just recently extended it to better use the left-over manure as organic fertiliser – but also because he wanted to show us how to do it with photos he brought to the workshop.</p> <p> <strong><em><img alt="" src=";groupId=13219&amp;t=1327914661033&amp;custom1=true" style="width: 300px; height: 225px; float: right; margin: 10px;" /></em></strong><strong><em>Right: Kol Pien digging the hole for his new and improved biogas system.</em></strong></p> <p> If you visit Kol Pien, you will soon notice rice pots on the stair case. Every month, in his house, farmers gather to learn about new techniques. For these lessons, he prepared rice pots with all varieties available to him – The pots are tagged, dated and wrapped with transparent plastic. Next to the pots, he has also gathered the pests that attack the rice, in little jars to better demonstrate what each bug does to the rice plants. ‘This one attacks the roots, this one goes for the plant and this one eats the rice itself’ he explains proudly as we take photos. His son attends all the farmer lessons, under the watchful eye of his father. His personal commitment to transfer knowledge, and his model farm make the perfect combination to showcase new practices in the farmer learning activities of IFAD.</p> <p>  </p> <p> <strong><em><img alt="" src=";groupId=13219&amp;t=1327914745797&amp;custom1=true" style="width: 300px; height: 225px; float: left; margin: 10px;" />Left: Kol Pien’s demonstration rice pots.</em></strong></p> <p> Kol Pien loves to speak about farming innovations. He is a natural communicator - but he is also a genuine entrepreneur. He tuned-up his little generator to give 1 kw more than it is supposed to – so he could pump water to his paddy field. He build his house by himself. He developed his own revolving fund with a group of friends, seeing how other farmer groups had benefited form the scheme. His pond hosts fish that no one else has in the region (some Japanese carp species). This is an added value in his area and a good example of viable market alternatives.</p> <p> <img alt="" src=";groupId=13219&amp;t=1327914822442&amp;custom1=true" style="width: 600px; height: 450px; margin: 10px;" /></p> <p> <strong><em>Above: Kol Pien’s son feeds the carp, with Mr Vong Vanthy, Provincial Administration Officer and Mr Ha Saoly, District Extension Officer who helped organise the visit.</em></strong></p> <p> Talking about the revolving fund, I ask him his feelings about the fund and the interest rate. Without blinking an eye, he says the interest rate is 2% - and he continues without any hesitation: if you borrow 200 000 Riels (50usd), you have to pay back 4000 Riels (1 dollar). Most farmers I had asked always took a long time to answer this question, revealing that calculating percentages is not a clear-cut issue for uneducated farmers. But Kol Pien seems to have a calculator in his head. I then ask him why he chose such a low interest rate. He looks at me in disbelief – for a moment I feel like I asked a stupid question – and responds, suggesting I missed the point: because we are poor – that is all we can afford…</p> <p> <em>Below: Kol Pien shows the photo of his family when they were so poor that the Ministry of Health gave them a paper to be able to get health care for free (only available for the poorest people in Cambodia). The bed behind him was the only belonging they had at the time.<img alt="" src=";groupId=13219&amp;t=1327914862624&amp;custom1=true" style="width: 600px; height: 450px; margin: 10px;" /></em></p> Cedric Joel Jancloes 2012-01-30T08:09:10Z Case Study 2: Ty Saoly in Prey Veng Province Cedric Joel Jancloes 2012-01-30T08:08:10Z 2012-01-30T08:02:08Z <p> <img alt="" src=";groupId=13219&amp;t=1327914134010&amp;custom1=true" style="width: 600px; height: 450px; float: right; margin: 10px;" />Ty Saoly is an elderly woman struggling to make ends meet. She has endured a lot in her lifetime but this has given her a strong sense of working in the community.</p> <p> She only has a little plot of land behind her house and rents a rice field during the rice season, together with her friends from the IFAD farmer group. She works and lives alone – her husband is in the army in the north of the country. She takes care of her grandsons during the day as her daughter is too busy.</p> <p> <strong><em><img alt="" src=";groupId=13219&amp;t=1327914134013&amp;custom1=true" style="width: 300px; height: 225px; float: left; margin: 10px;" /></em></strong><strong><em>Left: Mrs Ty saoly’s piglets, just on the edge of the vegetable garden, provide easy manure as fertiliser.</em></strong></p> <p> She concedes that without her vegetable garden, chicken and pigs she would not have been able to feed herself and her grandchildren this year: ‘This year, I heard many farmers suffered from floods, but we had droughts…so out of the 40 ares of rented paddy field, only 20 ares could be harvested. We lost a lot…’</p> <p> Adding to her struggle, the changes in the climate made it harder for Saoly to steer out of poverty. As we sit below her house, I ask her about the IFAD revolving fund. She slowly puts her reading glasses on, takes a big red book and shows me with a sense of pride and authority: ‘Here is where I keep all the accounts – you can check. I am the book keeper for the group – in the past years, we only had one problem: one of our farmers left the province and never came back to pay – I do not know how to collect his fees since he is gone. This year, I expect it will be hard for my group: the bad climate affected the rice harvest.’</p> <p> <strong><em><img alt="" src=";groupId=13219&amp;t=1327914134014&amp;custom1=true" style="width: 300px; height: 225px; float: left; margin: 10px;" /></em></strong><strong><em>Left: The vegetable garden, well organised and with a small water pond to irrigate the vegetables more easily.</em></strong></p> <p> She explains that she could make better profit if she sells her goods in the market less than a mile away but she prefers to sell it to the young girls working in the market: ‘I sell to them a few hundred riel below the market price so that it helps them to make a profit.’ Her good social sense has won the trust of the other farmers in her group.</p> <p> She uses a digital camera for the first time in her life. She struggles to find the push button. She then tries it, but only presses enough to get the camera in focus. I feel that her photo presentation could be compromised. But when I meet her just a week later, before the forum, her camera is full of wonderful photos that tell the story of sharing labour and sharing experiences in her farmer group. Many of the pictures show little shops run by her colleagues: ‘we need to have many ways of income – this is a good security for us, specially with the climate changing. We need to use all the alternatives we can find.’</p> <p> <img alt="" src=";groupId=13219&amp;t=1327914134005&amp;custom1=true" style="width: 600px; height: 450px; margin: 10px;" /></p> <p> <strong><em>Above: A Photo by Ty saoly, made during harvest with the farmer group – Click here to see more of Ty Saoly’s Photos – some are quite simply beautiful and so authentic</em></strong></p> <p> Despite the floods and droughts, Ty Saoly managed to stay afloat thanks to a well-kept vegetable garden. Her pigs produce manure as fertiliser while selling the piglets brings a well needed income. She has sold all her chicken but concedes that she prefers ducks as they are more resilient to climate, especially when it floods.</p> <p> Ty Saoly invested in pigs and chicken thanks to the revolving fund. She concedes that the combination of the fund and the learning about new farming options saved her from poverty: ‘This year, I am grateful for having vegetables. They provide regular income and food. This year was tough for everyone. I do not know what we would have done without the revolving funds – it really helped.’</p> <p> <strong><em>Below: Saoly’s grandson, who helped her to learn how to use the camera.<br clear="ALL" /> </em></strong></p> <p> <strong><em><img alt="" src=";groupId=13219&amp;t=1327914134006&amp;custom1=true" style="width: 600px; height: 450px; float: left; margin: 10px;" /></em></strong></p> Cedric Joel Jancloes 2012-01-30T08:02:08Z Case Study 3: Rath Rasmey, Preah Viehear Province Cedric Joel Jancloes 2012-01-30T08:27:11Z 2012-01-30T07:48:04Z <p> Famous for its disputed temple, the province of Preah Viehear has recently received a large road system upgrade. This area use to be mainly inhabited by ethnic minority called the Kouy. There still are Pre-Angkorian villages and prehistoric sites in this area. The new road gives a new life to many people in the area. It brings new opportunities for many poor farmers to better access the market.</p> <p> <img alt="" src=";groupId=13219&amp;t=1327913350491&amp;custom1=true" style="width: 300px; height: 225px; float: left; margin: 10px;" /><strong><em>Right: Rasmey took this picture as she wanted to show others this daily ritual, underlining the importance of a good education.</em></strong></p> <p> Rath rasmey (44 years old) is a mother of three – she recently bought 3 hectares of land. Most of it is still forested and they are clearing it gradually to expand their farm-land.</p> <p> An important part of their success comes for the pond and the well on their land. People have taken the habit to come get water here (for free). Now when they come to collect water, they also take a look at the demo pig farm and this raises their interest to join the farmers groups: the pigs are so big that people are really impressed.</p> <p>  </p> <p>  </p> <p> The first thing Rasmey did when her first pig was ready for the sale, was to buy a motorbike. This has helped her to better her lifestyle in many ways. She even has a bank account in Acleda bank since 2008, where she can safe-keep the budgets she handles. They now have two mature pig females and a young male. The first one is going to give birth in three months, and this will be the start of income generation for them.</p> <p> <strong><em><img alt="" src=";groupId=13219&amp;t=1327913732092&amp;custom1=true" style="width: 300px; height: 225px; float: left; margin: 10px;" />Right: The water ‘spot’ for many villagers is next to Saoly’s house, increasing opportunities to expose them to the farmer groups and its benefits.</em></strong></p> <p> The second part of Rasmey’s success is that she is highly social: she is part of at least four groups: the farmers group, the Malaria group, the Hygiene and Health group and a Resin collectors group. With this combination, many villagers recognise her and come to see her to ask for her ideas and help. She is always happy to give good advise. This social networking has helped her better handle her market situation.</p> <p> The income from the rice is not enough for the family as they have to rent land and it reduces their income on the crops. Her husband goes to collect resin once a week. They have a cane sugar machine and sell juice by the road side.</p> <p>  </p> <p> <img alt="" src=";groupId=13219&amp;t=1327913868696&amp;custom1=true" style="width: 300px; height: 400px; float: right; margin: 10px;" />Rath has many things going at the same time to make ends meet. She is part of a resin-collecting group – they receive 1500usd between seven people to collect resin for two years. She says this group is much more difficult because there are always issues when there are seven people to share. In the end, she makes only 300000 riels&nbsp; (75usd) from this over 2 years. She says that other funds also are available to her but none beat the ease of efficiency of IFAD. She can use the money more independently and has found this to be of great help.</p> <p>  </p> <p> <strong><em>Left: Rasmey’s water pond, visited by (left to right) Mr Chea Sokhun (extension worker) Mr Rithyvuth – a contributor to the COSOP online documentation and author of the video interviews and Mr Sophy Gneth of the Provincial Agriculture Department.</em></strong></p> <p> Rasmey grabs all the opportunities she has: when the road company came to build the road, they paid 50usd to the driver of an excavator to dig a fishpond. She is now very eager to learn about fish breeding.</p> Cedric Joel Jancloes 2012-01-30T07:48:04Z General Introduction to Poor Farmers Sharing at COSOP 2011 Cedric Joel Jancloes 2012-01-30T08:51:38Z 2012-01-30T05:30:22Z <p> 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.</p> <p> <img alt="" src=";groupId=13219&amp;t=1327905166488&amp;custom1=true" style="float: right; width: 300px; margin: 10px;" />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.</p> <p> 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 «&nbsp;Learning, Revolving funds and market opportunities&nbsp;». 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!</p> <p> <img alt="" src=";groupId=13219&amp;t=1327905129195&amp;custom1=true" style="width: 300px; float: left; margin: 10px;" /></p> <p> 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.</p> <p> 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 <a href="../../../web/cambodia/videos?p_p_auth=Pvphtt5R&amp;p_p_id=1_WAR_ifad_videoportlet&amp;p_p_lifecycle=0&amp;p_p_col_id=column-2&amp;p_p_col_pos=4&amp;p_p_col_count=5&amp;p_r_p_564233524_categoryId=0">here</a>.</p> <p> <br clear="ALL" />  </p> <p> <strong>Read the stories: What makes poor farmers break the cycle of poverty?</strong></p> <p> 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.</p> <p> <strong><img alt="" src=";groupId=13219&amp;t=1327905620448&amp;custom1=true" style="float: left; width: 150px; margin: 10px;" />Case study 1: Kol Pien – Svay Rieng</strong></p> <p> The spirit of entrepreneurship helped Kol Pien steer his life out of poverty, thanks to learning new techniques with the IFAD Farmer groups</p> <p> Photo: Kol Pien shows us his pump</p> <p style="margin-left:36.0pt;"> –&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; to view Kol Pien’s case-study, click <a href=";;#p_33">here</a></p> <p>  </p> <p> <img alt="" src=";groupId=13219&amp;t=1327905166512&amp;custom1=true" style="width: 150px; float: left; margin: 10px;" /><strong>Case study 2: Ty Saoly – Prey Veng</strong></p> <p> 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?</p> <p> Photo: Mrs Ty Saoly’s vegetable garden</p> <p style="margin-left:36.0pt;"> –&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; to view Ty Saoly’s case-study, click <a href=";;#p_33">here</a></p> <p style="margin-left: 36pt;">  </p> <p> <img alt="" src=";groupId=13219&amp;t=1327905375651&amp;custom1=true" style="width: 150px; height: 113px; float: left; margin: 10px;" /><strong>Case study 3: Roath Rasmey – Preah Vihear</strong></p> <p> 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.</p> <p> Photo: Mrs Rath rasmey and her family near the pigsty.</p> <p style="margin-left:36.0pt;"> –&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; to view Rasmey’s case-study click <a href=";;#p_33">here</a></p> <p>  </p> <p> <strong>Lessons Learned: </strong></p> <p> The experience raised important points:</p> <p> -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.</p> <p> -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.</p> <p> -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).</p> <p> <strong>Conclusion:</strong></p> <p> 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.</p> <p>  </p> <p> <em>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.</em></p> <p> <em><img alt="" src=";groupId=13219&amp;t=1327905375649&amp;custom1=true" style="width: 600px; height: 450px; float: left; margin: 10px;" /></em></p> Cedric Joel Jancloes 2012-01-30T05:30:22Z