Writer: Sieu Trinh Vi, ASEAN Sustainable Agrifood Systems
A facilitation training was given to extension officers in better transferring knowledge to pepper farmers.
About half of the technical staff who attended ‘Training of Trainers (ToT) on Integrated Crop Management (ICM) and sustainable pepper production in Viet Nam’ had previous experiences in farmer training. One fourth had earlier received ToT in training skills.
A survey comprised 20 staff from Plant Protection Sub-Department (PPSD) from Ba Ria Vung Tau province where ‘Sustainable Pepper Initiative Viet Nam’, a public and private partnership development project of PPSD, Keith Spicer and The Harris Freeman Group, the privately owned agricultural suppliers, and ASEAN Sustainable Agrifood Systems (ASEAN SAS) is being implemented.
In general, staff at PPSD in each province of Viet Nam are known for their technical expertise, especially pest and diseases control. However, most of them are not equipped with training skills in order to pass on their expertise to farmers.
Technical expertise is necessary, but not sufficient for the objective of knowledge sharing. Being a trainer, one needs a positive attitude towards a training programme, skills to effectively deliver content and key messages to audiences, and, most importantly, practice in order to obtain a fully developed confidence.
Sustainable Pepper Initiative started in August 2016 addressing pesticide residue challenges as emerged in black pepper exporting from Viet Nam. The project is providing pepper farmers in Ba Ria Vung Tau province with training in ICM in black pepper, and Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) standards through the PPSD staff. Furthermore, farmers are encouraged to implement and get certified with the sustainable standards, and be able to have better access to international market.
To meet these targets, providing training to trainers to be equipped with technical expertise as well as good training skill is very crucial.
The technical staffs from Ba Ria Vung Tau PPSD received the ToT on Integrated Crop Management (ICM) and sustainable pepper production in December 2016. They were expected to deliver knowledge in ICM, pepper production as well as Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) standard to pepper farmers participating in the project.
However, per the survey, as gaps in training skills and experiences were identified, an additional “Training Course on Facilitation and Farmer Training Skill for PPSD Technical Staff” was organised on 11-13 May by ASEAN SAS project, with an aim to enhance the participants with appropriate skill and confidence for farmer training.
The course was facilitated by Ms. Nguyen Thi Thanh Mai, a 30-year experienced field expert in both technical and extension skills. The facilitator and the course were highly appreciated by participants and leader of PPSD.
“I wish I could organize this course for PPSD staff a long time ago,” said Ms. Tran Thi Hien, a Vice Director of Ba Ria Vung Tau PPSD. “Thanks to GIZ, Harris Freeman group and Ms. Mai, the course we had today was not only very useful, but also very exciting.”
The training provided the major skills which trainers need to master including questions & answers, presentation, utilising visualization, and facilitation. Participants did not only learn the concept of these skills, but also got to practice to obtain the hand-on experiences.
Besides, the course provided PPSD staff with different training methods including advantages and disadvantages and how to use them. Last but not the least, the participants received guidance in designing power points presentation as well as training experienced from GIZ/CropLife Rice IPM projects Although the last day of the training was organised on a weekend, the course received full participation until its last minutes.
Ms. Diep, a participant shared: “The skill and knowledge I learnt today was not only useful for the future famer training, but also applicable in other daily activities like communication with colleagues and teaching my own children”
After the training, a significant improvement was observed in the presentation skill and level of confident in most participants.
Ms. Mai, the facilitator, shared: “I found the participants are highly responsive to the course. We can see most of them are obviously improving their confidence in public speaking, even those who were quiet and shy at the beginning.”
Although the training course may not make the technical staff to become the experienced trainers, but the ToT on training skill reinforced quality of the coming farmer training, which is critically important activities in promoting sustainable pepper production.
“I would like to express my sincere thanks to our facilitator, Ms. Mai and Ms. Hien from PPSD and all the participants. We had a very good training course during these three days. And, I believe that with the lesson we learnt, we will have the effective trainings for farmers in the coming months,” said Mr. Nguyen Thanh Binh, a senior project officer from ASEAN SAS project.