The PAEX (Participatory Agricultural Extension) programme in Vietnam started in 2008 as the continuation of two earlier projects in the period 2001-2007.
In line with the national policy (decree 56, MARD circular 60) PAEX contributes to an extension system that addresses the needs of the farmers. Farmers and extension personnel need skills to be able to play their role in an extension system that is based on real farmers’ needs. To support this development, we collaborate with the Agricultural Extension Centre, Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Women’s Unions and Farmers’ Associations in five provinces of South Vietnam.
Due to a multitude of reasons, extension in Vietnam is mainly top-down oriented. Topics included in extension often do not answer the immediate, pressing needs of the farmers, or do not comply with farmers’ working conditions and resources. The programme wants to contribute to a more needs-based extension in Vietnam, in line with the AE policies (Decree 56, decree 02/2010/ND-CP, MARD circular 60).
Many observers and stakeholders agree that the technological skills are fairly good. Therefore the main idea of the programme is to strengthen the methodological skills in order to have a better performing agricultural extension system. The main goal of the programme is to build capacity in the Extension Workers (EWs) and the Farmers’ Clubs (FCs). To make this sustainable, the programme will on the one hand develop materials and a system for continued training and on the other hand, lobby for institutionalization of the principles of participatory extension in the provincial extension system (at the level of the AEC management and DARD).
To integrate the participatory approach in the extension system, obviously the management (DARD and AEC) needs to subscribe to the participatory approach and to apply this approach in the extension system.
Extension is said to be the responsibility of all actors in society. As a result, the extension landscape is rather diverse and also Mass Organizations (MOs) like Farmers’ Association and Women’s Union want to integrate extension in their activities because one of their core missions is to help their members raise their incomes and reduce poverty. The programme mainly involved MO management since the actual involvement of the MOs in AE is limited, but the role MO management can play in facilitating participatory approaches is real.
The main indicator for sustainability of the programme is a general plan for institutional integration of the good outcomes in the provincial agricultural system although each province has its own views regarding extension: needs, resources, possibilities, vision, etc.
Specific objective (2011-2012)
DARD, AEC and MOs of 5 provinces have the capacity to jointly promote and support the use and institutionalization of participatory approaches in agricultural extension in view of improving the quality of agricultural extension.
- AEC/AES are incorporating PTD (Participatory Technology Development) in their regular extension activities
- The mass organizations are active and fully involved in the network that provides support to agricultural extension and they support / promote the use of participatory extension methodologies.
In phase 1, our operational partners, the Mekong Delta Research Institute (Can Tho) and the Institute of Agricultural Science for Southern Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City), organised training and coaching. Since 2011 we work directly with provincial authorities, although field staff of the institutes are still liaising with the provinces.
At first we trained extension workers centrally, but since 2009 we train core groups of trainers in each province. During 2009 and 2010 26 ‘Trainers of Trainers’ were trained, that in turn trained and train new trainers, extension workers (EW), FC and MO members. The training – supported by materials that we developed - ranges from participatory development of new technologies to issues regarding the Farmers’ clubs (leadership, administration of clubs; experiments,…). In all more than 4,000 FC, EW and MO participations were registered in 2008-2012. Clubs and extension workers (186 of the participations in 2011) were trained in participatory extension planning so their plans can be in line with official guidelines while based on local resources and needs.
In Phase 1, 66 Farmers’ clubs (FC) were started, the basis of the bottom-up approach: clubs and extension workers exchange information in a participatory manner. In phase 2, 28 farmer clubs are newly set up in Binh Phuoc (15 clubs) and Ba Ria-Vung Tau (13 clubs) As part of the approach club members initiate 427 experiments (254, 131 and 42 experiments were carried out in 2008-2010, 2011 and 2012 respectively).
While trained clubs and extension workers have the skills to participate in the development of needs based planning, our close cooperation with the AEC ensures that a participatory approach is part of extension activities.
On a higher level (management of DARD and AEC), we advocated that the provinces allot time and means for participatory methods and that the planning takes into account the farmers’ needs. The latter we do in meetings/workshops organized for DARD and AEC leaders, key extension workers, Farmers’ Association and Women’s Union.
From recent meetings with the provinces and from the stories in this book it is clear that DARD is very supportive, that AEC has integrated and plans to integrate this approach and that MOs are more involved in the AE. This makes us hopeful that institutionalization is partly reached and will be reached in the near future.
This together with the establishment of provincial trainers and the stories of change from EWs, FCs and farmers indicates that PAEX has made a good impact and has contributed in a sustainable way to improve the lifes of the farmers in South Vietnam.
Resource book - Success stories and good practices of PAEX
The resource book is intended for anyone interested in the Agricultural Extension in Vietnam. It contains good practices of the stakeholders of the PAEX programme in five provinces and it is the result of the hard work, patience and generous sharing of experiences of participants in the PAEX Impact Pathway and Most Significant Change Workshop (late 2009), of field experiences of extension workers and experienced farmer clubs as well as ToT trainers programme. Forty two writers contributed to this book and technical working groups worked closely with a production team of editors and desktop publishing staff.
There are three major sections in this resource book. The first section consists of 10 writings on uses and impacts of the Participatory Technology Development (PTD) method and an example of PTD institutionalization process in Ba Ria-Vung Tau province.
The second section is the biggest section of the resource book. It features the various local knowledge and practices on farmer/extension clubs in all five PAEX participating provinces, namely club management experiences, development of Khmer ethnic group clubs, female farmer clubs, initiatives of club farmers. We have 34 writings from ToT trainers, extension workers, field officers, and farmer clubs.
The third section is a collection of 7 writings of changes and effects of capacity building and training on extension workers as well as ToT trainers, and one writing on experiences in PAEX material development.
The annexes list all PAEX participants and stakeholders of VVOB, PAEX, Institute of Agricultural Science and Technology for the South (IAS), College of Rural Development (Can Tho University), Departments of Agriculture and Rural Development and Agriculture Extension Centers of An Giang, Hau Giang, Soc Trang, Binh Phuoc, and Ba Ria-Vung Tau provinces, Agriculture Extension Sections, Women’s Union, Farmers ‘Association, ToT pool, and farmers’ clubs.
In addition you will find a short photo stories of PAEX activities during its five year implementation (PAEX in the beginning, farmer clubs, capacity building, and application of the participatory extension methods).
These materials are also available on the VVOB Vietnam website (www.vvob.be/vietnam). But for the benefit of a large number of farmers and other people that have limited or no access to computer, we decided to print copies to distribute to PAEX participating provinces. Our hope is that these good practices and success stories will be widely introduced to other farmer clubs and people in remote areas.
This resource book will certainly help stakeholders and other interested readers to look back at the success stories and good practices. However our main hope is that these materials will give inspiration to our readers and contribute to the further improvement of the Agricultural Extension system of Vietnam.
Dr. Wilfried Theunis
VVOB Country Programme Manager