PAEX Vietnam 2008 – October 2011: some illustrations of changes in capacity, awareness, and behavior in individuals and communities.
Farmers can become landscapists if extension workers really work as facilitators:
Farmers of extension clubs involved in PAEX started with Participatory Rural Assessment (PRA) tools. PRA tools are used to find out local context and life. Different types of maps and diagrams are made by local people on the ground or A0 paper showing terrain, soils, water sources, crops, livestock, and so on. Farmers regardless of sex and ethnic groups sketch out maps and make diagrams to represent many aspects of their communities, lives and environments. (see photos of hamlet resource maps drawn by farmer clubs).
During this working process, farmers realize that they are very able to do assessments and have confidence in their abilities.
We learned that these maps can only be done well when extension workers work as facilitators, not teachers: Let farmers do it, don’t rush, sit down, listen and learn, don’t dominate, don’t lecture, embrace error, learn from what goes wrong or does not work, hand over the stick, chalk or pen, anything that empowers, and use the best judgment at all the times – then extension workers can find wonderful maps of the community where they work with and how excellent several farmers are.
When based on farmers’ needs, everything can be sustainable for farmers
During a PAEX year-end review and planning workshop in 2010 delegations of five PAEX participating provinces watched in as Mrs. Tran Thi Ly En, Dong Tam farmer club of Soc Trang province showed that the club can make problem trees without guidance of extension workers. Problem trees help them test new things, learn from doings, work on the basis of self-determination; and share their experiences. Workshop participants were impressed by her presentation and problem solving skills on the basis of problem trees.
Hau Giang province’s farmer clubs actively works on problem trees to find their agriculture production issues. Based on this they then started their research in 2011.
In a smallish but quite nice office that the Commune People’s Committee arranged for An Nhut club of Ba Ria-Vung Tau province, Mr. Tran Cong Minh, the club head and other farmers were very happy to receive VVOB Vietnam Programme Manager, Wilfried Theunis. They proudly introduced experienced farmers, achievements in agriculture production, cooperative relationships with local authorities and extension sections, and also illustrated changes in behavior and attitudes of farmers. During a talk with Wilfried Theunis, Mr. Nguyen Hong Tien, a member of An Nhut farmer club said that “..Before being involved in PAEX program, he was always a silent man, and used to practice agriculture on his own. Now being a PTD extension club member, he learns from experiments with other farmers and learns from experienced farmers. He learns better ways in agriculture production, and always contributes his ideas to meetings...” He smiles when he says “..he doesn’t know since when he became such a talkative farmer…”(see photo).
Be happy to see self more advanced
His colleagues say that, the Mr. Cong of today is a different person from the Mr. Cong of five years ago. Mr. Le Dinh Cong is an extension worker of Ba Ria-Vung Tau. As a head of district extension section, Mr. Cong before imposed his views on other people. Mr. Cong today in his colleagues’ mind is a really wonderful and professional extension worker. Mr. Vinh, head of provincial communication section said that “We see Mr. Cong as the hard-working and enthusiastic worker of five years ago; but now he has become more excellent: no more lecture, no more criticism – he really works as a facilitator; he interacts well with farmers, is excellent at the use of visual aids when working with farmers, and is serious in considering farmers’ input and knowledge.During a friendly talk at the end of one training course, Mr. Cong listens to his colleagues’ comments about himself; he doesn’t hesitate to talk about how he has changed.
In several meetings, it can be heard from extension service leaders, extension workers, and farmers – all agree that though there is no huge amount of financial support from VVOB, extension workers and farmers significantly really benefit from VVOB-PAEX and makes a positive change in work and life.