Sustainable Agriculture Project Sangthong

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Capacity building amongst local agriculturists:

Throughout all technical trainings, significant emphasis has been placed upon farmer participation in learning and demonstration, and selection of topics. The empowerment of farmers to choose topics and to direct the course of their own learning is fundamental to local capacity building. Top-down selection o topics and modes of delivery has, in the past, communicated to farmers that there are recipients, rather than participants, in the development of the agricultural sector. The project has sought to assimilate innovative techniques of farmer-led agriculture extension and training, particularly those of the FAO IPM Inter-Country Programme and the Lao Extension Approach, both of which promote similar pedagogies. In the coming year, the project aims to deepen and extend the level to which farmers direct project activities and implementation.

In each training topic, the project has sought to promote techniques which utilize resources that are both locally-available and cost-effective, and which do not require outside expertise beyond the training itself and short-term follow-up which will be supplied through the project. In particular:

  • methods of soil conservation and improvement have not advocated the use of purchased inputs, but rather have relied upon animals manures and plant matter, and cultural techniques.
  • Pest management has focused on the use of non-chemical control, including cultural techniques and the use of farmer-produced bio-extract
  • Plant propagation techniques were taught with a view to facilitating the use of locally-available refuse plastic as an alternative to purchased plastic bags, and did not promote the use of rooting-hormones. Techniques of coconut-fiber processing for marcotting were also taught during the training.

The Project Farmers participated in a three-day training course in Phialat to further develop and reinforce skills learned during the village-based trainings. In the coming year, the project aims to utilize the Project Farmers local agricultural experts (Village Extension Workers in the Lao Extension Approach) to implement ongoing trainings in their respective villages.


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