Saturday, May 30, 2009

Monthly Meeting of M&E team

On May 29, 2009 Internal M&E team of CEDAC Field Program organized a internal monthly team meeting with the participation of Mr. Vorng Sean, Nuon Piseth, Chhin Chhunhoir, and Miss Pheng Chandy. The meeting was facilitated by Mr. Yim Sok Sophors, the M&E coordinator of CEDAC Field Program. The meeting focused on the following agenda:
  1. Sharing attractive information from the field
  2. Sharing of activities and results in May 2009
  3. Self-reflection on what the team did well, what are not working well, what to be improved, etc
  4. Expectation of important work that the team members want to achieve
  5. Team Learning on project development and Microsoft Excel (Pivot Table)
  6. Sum-up and impression of the meeting
As a result, the team members could share and learned from each other about the activities and achievement have been done in May 2009. Importantly, the team members discussed more detail about the problems and challenges of doing the recent work. In this meeting, it is important that all of the team members can know and understand about the necessary important that each of them want to do. The next meeting will be conducted on 29 June 2009.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Internal Evaluation of ILFARM-TK

26-28 May 2009, Mr. Yim Soksophors went to the project ILFARM-TK, Tramkak district of Takeo province, for starting the first step of conducting the internal evaluation of this project. Miss. Pheng Chandy also accompanied with me to the project. During this trip, we have met and discussed with the team members who are the community based field assistants of the project. 5 of them will involve in the data collection and 2 come from CEDAC Field Program will involve in organizing group discussion with key informants. Therefore, 7 total members will in involve in conducting this evaluation for 15 days, including all the preparation phase, data collection and data entry as well as reporting. At the second day of this trip, I have presented the objectives and methodologies of the evaluation especially to explain them about questionnaires for individual interview. On the same day, all of us went to Trapaing Srange village for testing of the questionnaires. At the tomorrow morning on 28 May 2009, we conducted the reflection of what we have done yesterday relating to the test of questionnaires so that we could correct and improved the quality of the questionnaires.

On the other hand, Mr. Yim Soksophors also met and discussed with Mrs. Mok Chenda, the project officer of ILFARM-TK to discuss about the evaluation and she fully cooperated with us in term of determining the sample villages, reviewing the household baseline in 2006 and providing name list of farmers that we are possibly going to select for interview in order to know the level of income change before and after existing of the project, human resources of the project for conducting this evaluation. The farmers will be selected randomly among the families that have been already conducted the household baseline in 2006, at that time, the household baseline was conducted by Mr. Suon Seng’s team.
Later on, the questionnaires will be submitted to all relevant staff of this project for providing their comment and then the team will be able to conduct the data collection. Next week, on June 3, 2009 I will be in Tramkak to continue this work in the field.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Staff capacity building by Dr. Yang Saing Koma

On 25 May 2009, I (Yim Soksophors) participated in the training provided by Dr. Yang Saing Koma, the president of CEDAC. The training aimed to strengthen the quality of work and to direct the staff for effective working in the communities. Especially, the training was conducted in order to improve the participatory action research that will be conducted by farmers as we would like to build up farmers' capacity of conducting the agricultural researches by themselves. Furthermore, the discussion on how to integrate our work to the current development context, such as decentralization to meet the changes of the government and the donor agencies.

Moreover, the ideas relating to Critical Thinking or Positive Thinking, Creative Thinking were also picked up for discussion during the training as well. It provided more ideas to the participants for improving their thinking, attitude, habit and skills in order to be an effective community development worker. I could note that the presentation on Learning Cycle by Dr. Yang Saing Koma is very important for me and the others to take into consideration and practices because i am likely have not conducted it regularly in term of self-learning, so this idea stimulated me to re-think and to enhance the regularity of my self-learning. In case of the farmers in the community, it is needed to set up the group of farmers for conduction Team Learning on particular subject, for example the farmer team learning on System of Rice Intensification (SRI), so we will discuss in-depth detail about the main techniques of SRI, we don't just only trained the 12 techniques of SRI to farmers, but we actually need to explain and discuss deeply with them about the reasons, ex: what is good seed? why do we need to select good seed? How to select good seed? So, it generally focused on 3 main points, WHAT, WHY and HOW.

To me, I think that it is really good that we have team learning among the staff and among the community farmers. It will help to generate more ideas and something new for upgrading our knowledge and capacity of doing something. The team learning among farmers can be focused on SRI, chicken raising, vegetable growing, and pig raising, etc. At this time, SRI is the first priority because it is time for preparing rice cultivation that is coming soon for the rainy season. The staff can also set up learning team on the social topics, for example how to empower the commune monitoring committee (CMC)?

On the other hand, i have also learned about the time management skill especially how to manage the time of ourselves and to manage the time of the project staff in order to make sure that we use our time productively. It means that we must manage time and do not the time manage us. In addition to SRI, i learned about the 3 points, how to select good seed and seed purification, how to improve the top soil fertility, and improved skill of applying SRI. Many new ideas, many ways of seed purification emerged during the discussion on seed purification and i have ever never thought before. But now they are in my consideration. Additionally, the participants have also discussed about the flexibility of village based organization to deal with the current situation of development of the country.

There are many other things that we have discussed during the training, but i could not describe all and this is only my brief note. Thanks!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Study tour of Indigenous Farmers to Kompot

20-22 May 2009, a group of approximately 20 indigenous farmers from ALP project conducted a study tour to Takeo province while they had already learned some ideas relating to the formulation of village-based farmer associations trained by the project staff in Mondulkiri province. Mr. Cheav Sopheak who is the project office of ALP involved in facilitation of this visit.

The farmers visited and discussed with experienced leaders of existing village-based farmer associations in Kompot and they understood well about the advantages of farmer associations, the process and methodologies to form village-based farmer associations. It is to note that they also visited and discussed with Mr. Oun Sophal who is the president of Farmer and Nature Net (FNN).

As a result, they would like to set up this kind of associations within their villages in Sok San commune, Koh Ngiek district, Mondulkiri province. Hopefully, the village based indigenous farmer associations will be set up gradually after this visit.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Press Conference on Year of Rice Action

Today, on 20 May 2009, I (YIM Sok Sophors) participated in the press conference on Year of Rice Action. This event was organized by CEDAC with the financial support from PAN-AP, the conference took for a half day at the morning with the participation of 61 participants, including the media agents from Radio Free Asia, Phnom Penh Post newspaper, Radio FM 102, Radio ABC, Radio VOD, TVK television, CTN television, NEDC network, Reaksmey Kampucher newspaper, kohsantepheap newspaper, the farmer representatives, SRI secretariat, and other CEDAC staff. During the conference, there are 5 speakers (1 speader from CEDAC, 3 farmers and 1 speaker from the SRI secretariat). First of all, Mr. YI Kimthan presented aboutt the historical background of YORA to the participants incldued also the activity plan of YORA for 2009-2010. Later on, the 3 farmers presented about their experiences of conducting seed purification, practices of SRI techniques, and the presentation on rice producer communty, warehouse and rice mill. Another one speaker presented about the background of SRI secretariat and its function in disseminating SRI in the country.

As a result, the participants not only understood about the reasons of why the conference is organized, but also they understood about the activity plan of Year of Rice Action in 2009-2010. Furthermore, the conference has increased the awareness among farmers and the development agencies to defend the traditional rice varieties that those seeds are very important.
Finally, the 4 strategic recommendations were declared at the end of the conference in order to inform the other NGOs, government agencies to take into action. The collaboration and cooperation among the NGOs and other development partners need to be strengthened in order to ensure that the 4 recommendations will come into reality. However, we see that those recommendations are not really new, but they are the things that we need to strengthen. The detail recommendations are presented as follows:
  1. Capacity building and training to farmers to conduce a good rice seed purification and good seed selection in order to avoid using of external hybrid seeds (including also the GE rice).
  2. Promote and disseminate the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) to the community farmers because this technique is suitable and appropriate to the condition of farmers.
  3. Improving the top soil fertility through using of natural manure, compost, green manure, cover crops, etc.
  4. Facilitate to form rice farmer producer groups, community based rice mills, rice warehouse in order to empower the small-scale farmers in negotiating with the middlemen and traders, according to the formation of producer groups it is easier for the rice collectors/traders to buy paddy from the community farmers as well, contributing to ensure a good food security in the community, provide employment to the community people and also receive some substances for using in other purposes (such as rice husk, rice bran... can be used for animal feeding)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Fact Finding in Prey Veng

From 11-13 May 2009, I went to Prey Veng province in purpose of conducting the fact finding for gathering the data information for the proposal writing. Mr. Yi Kimthan, Mr. Meas Samica and Mr. Chhin Chhunhoir who are the staff members of CEDAC also accompanied with me to that province. Our team has facilitated the group discussion with the key informants of the villages, those key informants are the leaders of village-based farmer associations, representatives of the collective saving groups, village chief and commune council members.

In each group discussion, our team spent about 3 hours to discuss about the general basis date of the villages, the positive impacts of previous CEDAC's projects as well as to discuss about the main problems which are happening now and what we should do to deal with those problems effectively. Totally, 3 group discussion meetings were organized separately in Baphnom, Kompong Trabek and Prah Sdach districts.

According to the result of the fact finding, we could know the real situation of the village concerning to the food security and to know more detail about the situation of the poorest families and other vulnerable families in the villages. The understanding of the situation is very helpful for us to write up the proposal appropriately with the real condition of the proposed targeted districts.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Presentation on the result of the monitoring and evaluation of the project SfR

A research team of CEDAC conducted a monitoring and evaluation of the project SfR (Saving for Self-Reliance project) for a few months and today on May 08, 2008 the result of this monitoring was presented to the participants including I myself (Yim Sok Sophors), other CEDAC staff from other departments/units, staff of Oxfam-America, etc.

Based on the presentation, I could learn some information relating to the real situation of the project SfR in the field, especially to know about the impact of the project to the the livelihood improvement of the cooperating farmers (including the poorest, poor, medium and better-off). However, I see that the presentation was not so detail, the presenters should prepare and set priority information/main finding for the presentation. Furthermore, during the presentation, I could see that many useful questions were raised among the participants, those questions are helpful for the project team and CEDAC to consider the future strategy to improve the progress and effectiveness of this project.
  1. What are the reasons of dissolved saving groups? How about the members of those dissolved saving groups? Do they become the members of other existing saving groups or not?
  2. How do the strong saving group consider about the dissolved saving group in their village? Do the poorest families saving group should be formed with the participation of among the poorest families only or mix with medium families?
  3. Are there any potential to increase the number of members of saving groups?
  4. How many families or percentage of families who not yet the members of saving groups?
  5. Why do some villages have only one saving groups since the beginning up to now?
  6. How to attract the poorest families to be a part of saving group?
  7. Should we start to form saving groups with those who are interested in?
  8. What is the impact of saving group to domestic violence?
Click here to see the detail information of the presentation

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Coordination Meeting of CEDAC Field Program in Siem Reap

On 07 May 2009, CEDAC Field Program organized a coordinating team meeting in Siem Reap province with the participation of 29 staff. The main agenda of the meeting focused on:
  1. Sharing information among the participants
  2. Sharing the progress activities and results of the projects
  3. Discussion on CEDAC staff policy, policy of using car and motor
  4. Presentation on commune project by Mr. Say Tith
  5. Participatory action research and further SRI data (yield)
  6. Cooperation among the projects and other departments/units of CEDAC
  7. Impression of the meeting
  8. Make appointment for next meeting

After the meeting, I could know what we need to strengthen especially the improvement of participatory action research relating to the agricultural technical techniques in the field. The project staff will manage the human resources to involved in conducting this useful activity in the field, and the specific discussion about what we should conduct participatory action research will be discussed on 28 May 2009 during the meeting with Dr. Yang Saing Koma, the president of CEDAC. I think that it is really good that we discussed to improve the participatory action research because it allows us to spur and to develop new innovations for extension to the community farmers. It is to remind that CEDAC has conducted many participatory action researches in the field by collaboration with the community farmers, such as the action research on Ecological Chicken Raising (ECR), fish raising and natural fish trapping, cover crop and green manure, System of Rice Intensification (SRI), etc. Recently, it seems to be that staff have not paid highly attention to conduct participatory action researches meanwhile they are likely concentrating to the formulation of farmer organizations (village based farmer associations, rice farmer producer groups, vegetable producer groups, chicken producer groups, etc). Based on the result of the meeting, the staff will pay attention to conduct participatory action research in order to develop new ideas/agricultural innovations for widely extension to the community farmers.

Particularly, the meeting also discussed about the commune project. Mr. Yi Kimthan, senior program officer of CEDAC, will be responsible to supervise the commune projects which are implementing under the responsible of Mr. Say Tith. Additionally, the participants discussed about the regulation and policy of using car and motor and there are some main points were suggested for improvement. It is to note that CEDAC has been implementing a development project, called "Local Administrative and Reform" with funding support from PACT. But the commune project above means that the project that implemented by the commune councile with the sub-contract to other agencies/NGOs. On the other hand, relating to SfR project, only 40 out of 310 SGAs (Saving Group Animators) will continue to support the saving groups in the target villages. It means that the potential SGAs will continue thier work with the project.

During the meeting, it is able to know that there are many other call for proposals that CEDAC Field Program considers to apply such as call for proposal to EC on food security that CEDAC Field Program is interested to apply for this project in Odor Meanchey and Prey Veng provinces, call for proposal of WINROCK relating to children education in Prey Veng province, and many other call for research proposal, etc. Hopefully, those calls are the great opportunities to expand the projects and to diversify the intervention of CEDAC Field Program in the communities.

Monday, May 4, 2009

ALP will visit ILFARM-KP

ALP-MDR (Agricultural Livelihood Program for the Sok San Indigenous Community) will organize a field study on village based farmer association and to learn other agricultural innovations to ILFARM-Kompot in this month, May 2009. The potential farmers who are cooperating with the project will be invited to join the study tour. Hopefully, those will be able to learn new ideas relating to the practical experiences of formation and management of FAs in Kompot province and it will motivate them to set up village based farmer associations in their communities, the indigenous communities, to improve their livelihood and to contribute in the development of their own communities.

It is to remind that ALP used to conduct 2 external visits to Takeo for 22 interested farmers and another one visit to Ratanakiri province for 18 key farmers and this will be the third visit for potential farmers who can be the management committee members of village based farmer associations. Practically, based on the visits, the indigenous people can understand well about new ideas or agricultural innovations introduced by the project because they could learn directly from the experienced farmers and they could also see the real practices in the field/farm. Therefore, it motivated them to apply innovations amid the trust is being increased.

2008 Food Security Program of Cambodia (EC)

Today, i started to write another proposal, called "2008 Food Security Program for Cambodia". I will work closely with Mr. Yi Kimthan, the senior program officer of CEDAC to write up this proposal. I would like to let you know that Mr. Yi Kimthan, Mr. Meas Samica, Chhin Chhunhoir and I myself (Yim Sok Sophors) will go to Prey Veng for conducting fact finding from 11-13 May 2009.

We will conduct the situation study relating to the poverty, to study also the situation of existing farmers groups set up by the previous CEDAC's projects in that area, especially to find out possibilities of linkage those existing groups to this new call for proposal.
The result of fact finding will use mainly for the proposal writing with the combination of other secondary data relating to this proposed project's target area. It is to remind that CEDAC used to implement a development project, namely "Improving Livelihood of Small Farmers (ILFARM-PV)" since 2003 up to 2008, the project was funded by EC through CFSI. Hope that the call for proposal at this time will provide opportunity for CEDAC to carry out the project with direct funding support from EC.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Research proposal writing on rice market chain

Today, May 01, 2009 i wrote a research proposal for submission to CARF, my proposal's purpose is to conduct the study on rice value chain in Takeo and Kompot provinces. The study will conduct in both seasons, rice market chain in the wet season and rice market chain in the dry season which cover in 90 villages across 30 communes in 10 districts of 2 provinces. The research team will consist of CEDAC's staff (i myself who will be the team leader of this research project), government officials from the provincial department of agriculture, and students from National school of agriculture Prek Leap. I think that it is really good that we have opportunity to conduct a jointly research project together so that we could strengthen the knowledge and capacity in conducting rice value chain.

At the end of this research, we would like to assess the exported paddy and imported rice to the studied villages and we will assess the paddy demand, supply situation especially from the local farmers, to conduct in-depth study on rice market chain actors and the power of each actor in the whole chains. On the other hand, this research project will also conduct the study on the impact of community rice mill to benefit farmers in term of price and negotiation power with the middlemen, etc. This research project will be helpful for CEDAC, government officials and other NGOs to provide support for improving rice market in the communities.