SPOPP Trainers: a role model beyond teaching and sharing knowledge

Story and Photos: Jantima Kulkit

Thanomkhwan Chanpibun, SPOPP Trainer, Palm Panlan Company Limited

Trainers are often regarded as merely guest speakers. In the Sustainable Palm Oil Production and Procurement Project (SPOPP), however, our trainers are more than just regular trainers but also serve as training instructors, training facilitators, as well as technical inspectors tracking the farmer’s adoption of knowledge once the training has been completed.

With the SPOPP, many trainers continue to improve and enjoy what they do. In addition to being instructors who share information on different training topics, they play a crucial role in driving oil palm farmers to reach their goals towards achieving the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) Standard and Certification.

Our past activities clearly demonstrate why our trainers are so vital. If any of the trainers are absent or even fall short in one or more of their qualifications, it will unquestionably have an impact on the project implementation. According to observed challenges during the trainers’ competence improvement, we have learned that the real situation might not resemble what trainers have been told in a classroom. Problem-solving in any unexpected scenario always stimulates and thrills our trainers. From our experience, we have gathered the following tips for other trainers to take into account when working with farmer communities:

Dedication: To improve self-confidence, the trainers must continue to study and practice training skills in all areas. It could be a verbal presentation, use of training media, or even approaches to ensure that farmers have gained information and awareness, as well as their acceptance and adoption of the practices taught.

Deliver Correct Knowledge: When it comes to a specific training topic, inviting a knowledgeable organisation, a specialist or expert, or obtaining reference documents from reliable sources is necessary to build more credibility in the training.

Database Management: The database is essential for effective operation and continuous improvement. Therefore, good database management is a crucial tool for streamlining data collection and data processing, as well as monitoring and evaluating success. However, verifying the accuracy of collected data, such as determining whether the possession and type of land title documents are legal, whether the planting year and planting area are correct, whether the mapping of farming plot boundaries is accurate, as well as other relevant information must all comply with the RSPO standard requirements.

Farmer Group Creation and Group Management: Since the RSPO defines independent smallholder certification as collective certification, success starts with everyone participating and working together to drive a clear and transparent workplan with the same objectives and goals.

Through taking real action, the trainers participating in the SPOPP project have developed and refined their training facilitation skills. The provided training materials and tools, meanwhile, are effective and match trainers’ needs. As a result, each of the elements can aid the trainers in boosting confidence and inspire them to change and advance their skills to become professional trainers.

Our trainer’s success stories:

Chonlada Phoengyai, SPOPP Trainer, Palm Panlan Company Limited

“Being a trainer is a powerful role, the most challenging task in any position and comes with responsibility. The trainer will have to maintain and take control in any situation. Evolving problems must be resolved, along with consideration of the circumstances. I keep expanding my knowledge base. Importantly, ‘true knowledge’, ‘rhetoric’, ‘personality’, ‘positive attitude’, and ‘listening to the audience’ are key shortcuts to success. Thanks to mentors like GIZ and support from GGC, I was able to get over my fears and face the challenges of being a trainer at full capacity.”

Dusit Buthong, SPOPP Trainer, Saeng Arun Palm Oil Limited Partnership
“Managing a group isn’t easy. First, we need to know the goals we are aiming to accomplish especially for the people in charge or the group committee members. The process of learning doesn’t happen immediately. So, it’s important to clearly explain the steps to take so that everyone can see the same end goals. If we haven’t found a way to make ourselves understood clearly enough, this is hard because many farmers in the country have gone ahead. If there is cooperation to create uniformity, it will pool each person’s ideas and knowledge. Together with the new knowledge that SPOPP has already given, achieving our goals together won’t be hard anymore.”
Nuttamon Phisitkhun, SPOPP trainer, Suksomboon Palm Oil Company Limited
“Being a trainer is only the start. There is still a lot to learn and a need to get better at transferring knowledge on good practices. The SPOPP project has made it easier for trainers to organise our thoughts in a way that leads to good planning and work. Each task is equally important. When it comes to the database, a major question is how we can manage a large amount of data. Fortunately, the project stepped in to provide support and made things easy to implement and set up a database management system based on facts that can be monitored and verified, such as the coordinates of the planting area, documents related to the planting area and activities in the fields. Support from the project covers all issues.”

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