Sustainable Agriculture Project Sangthong

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Capacity building amongst District Agriculture and Forestry Extension Office Staff and Volunteers:

During the year of 2006-7, capacity building amongst DAFEO staff took place primarily in the context of project activities, which were generally carried out by the staff themselves, with significant support from recent agriculture college graduates who work voluntarily with the project and Sangthong DAFEO. In all project activities, decision-making and project implementation is directed jointly between MCC service worker and DAFEO employees, ensuring a co-operative, mutually-constructive environment which allows for a shared sense of ownership for activities and outcomes. Particularly in the context of technical trainings, DAFEO staff and volunteers prepare and deliver seminars on a variety of topics, as well as leading local farmers through demonstration and practical sessions. While all trainings are supported materially and informationally through the project, there is a strong emphasis on a utilization of local resources and knowledge, seeking to ensure the possibility of sustainability after the termination of the project. There are some realistic limitations, however, to the sustainability of these activities without outside funding, which will be discussed later. It is also worth noting that the distinction between DAFEO staff and local agriculturists is rather arbitrary. All staff persons are themselves part-time farmers in the local community, and thus all capacity building at this level also serves to benefit educated farmers and, by extension, the local agriculture sector.

In addition to this on-the-job capacity building, DAFEO staff have been supported to attend conferences on Commercial Rubber Tree issues and opportunities, production and use of EM (in Thailand), implementation and monitoring of micro-finance.

One DAFEO staff person was supported to participate in a three month-long course in written and spoken English in Vientiane. This has been part of wider objective of English language acquisition at the DAFEO level, and parallels office-based language training for DAFEO staff. Within this year, the implementation of formal English-language classes has been slow to start. In part, this has been due to an inability to allocate time which can accommodate the work schedules of various staff members.


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