Agricultural Extension - ImAgE
ImAgE – Improvement of Agricultural Extension
VVOB’s ImAgE programme aims to strengthen agricultural extension services in order to improve farmers’ livelihoods and decrease their vulnerability. More specifically, ImAgE tries to encourage farmers in Cambodia’s Kandal province to adopt and share improved and environmentally friendly agricultural practices. The programme especially tries to reach female and young farmers.
This would have a double impact. Firstly, the prospect of being a farmer in rural areas becomes more attractive to youth, thereby decreasing the migration to urban areas. Secondly, by increasing family income, parents can pay for the tuition for their children.
The ImAgE programme directly targets the extension workers of the District Offices of Agriculture (DOA) in Kandal province. ImAgE aims to strengthen their capacity from within the Provincial Department of Agriculture (PDA) via their Subject Matter Specialists (SMS). Through this capacity building, we aim to gradually reach our indirect target group, the farmers.
“I can make about US$1,200 every four months, which earns me a net profit of around US$500‐600. On a yearly basis, that’s US$500 more than last year.”
Farmer Bun Nov, female member of an ImAgE programme farmer group.
In our pursuit towards our objective, we enter into active partnerships with local Cambodian institutes on provincial and ministerial level, as well as with other donors and agencies working within the agricultural sector.
How are we implementing ImAgE?
At provincial level ImAgE introduces methodologies such as Participative Technology Development (PTD) and the needed skills to apply them. The Office of Agricultural Extension (located within the Provincial Department of Agriculture) provides in turn support to the district extension workers in methodological skills, including PTD, farmer field schools and field demonstrations. The Subject Matter Specialists (also at provincial level) provide the required expertise in their respective fields such as animal health and husbandry, fish farming, vegetable growing and systems of rice intensification.
“The other farmers all laughed when they saw my rice field. Now they admire me, I can grow stems as big as a hand or a foot.”
Farmer Men Sary, member of an ImAgE Programme farmer group.
Did you know?
Cambodia continues to rank among the lowest in the region for the Gender Related Development Index (GDI) and Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM). It scores a value of 0.588 in the GDI and ranks 91st out of 109 countries in the GEM, with a value of 0.427.
At the highest level, quality assurance and dissemination of new technologies is provided by the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (MAFF). Furthermore, the ImAgE programme aims to support the DAE by setting up an on-line platform for sharing and promoting good practices, also outside of Kandal province.
Finally, the training skills and materials that ImAgE develops can be adapted for use at the Teacher Training Centres in the SEAL programme. The developed expertise by the District Office of Agriculture provides a valuable input for SEAL’s agriculture life skills component. This synergy leads to a strengthening of the teachers at the Teacher Training Centres and ultimately targets youth at schools.
As with our SEAL programme, we implement ImAgE in two phases – pilot and mainstreaming. The number of targeted districts in the pilot phase is limited to three in order to keep focused on quality assurance. Likewise, the number of villages where pilot activities take place is also kept low (15 in total) for the same reason. Their extension workers are coached in methods to promote the development or improvement of new agricultural practices. Emphasis is placed on experimentation following the Participative Technology Development (PTD) model. This is done under the guidance of the officers and specialists of the Provincial Department of Agriculture.
During the mainstreaming phase, good practices are implemented on a wider scale by involving more districts and by supporting the formation of more farmer groups. Moreover, the PTD technique can continue to be applied in the mainstreaming phases so that the technology development becomes an ongoing improvement process.
Crunching numbers: ImAgE’s mainstreaming phase
In the mainstreaming stage the number of targeted districts increases to 7 while the number of villages rises to an estimated 140. The number of provincial and district extension workers that can be reached in this phase is 11 and 24 respectively, or a total of 35 extension workers.
Simultaneously with the increase of the number of villages, the total number of farmers that can be reached rises to about 500. We aim to include 50% female farmers and 15% young farmers (up to the age of 26).
Provided district extension workers remain active in their districts also after the handover of the programme, the total of potential villages reached in the longer term within the 7 districts amounts to 907. With a total population of 761,508 this constitutes 8% of the rural population in Cambodia.