Formation of sub-committees and SUPER FARMERS working with Extension Officers
There is always a deliberate effort totrain farmers who can train others under the training of trainers (ToT) approach and these ensure availability of local based experts (field auxiliaries/ super farmers/ paraprofessionals) in the community. The process starts with the establishment of sub-committees and selecting technology- and spreading super-farmers.
1. Formation of sub-committees
RIPAT projects include several technologies and have a membership of 30 – 35 members per groups hence to enhance success and impact, some of the group tasks are allocated to sub-committees. Once the group has acquired an adequate group field, the members are trained in differenttechnologies based on the basket of options (crop / animal / VSLA etc.. Most of the training is practical – learning by doing; but background theories are provided to enable the participants tounderstand the underlying principles of the technology. After the initial training sessions, the sub-committees are formed, each consisting of four or five farmers with a special interest in the technology in question. Sub-committees are selected based on the criteria explained in RIPAT Manual (page 71), where also their roles and leadership are explained.
2. Selection of super-farmers
Super-farmers (SFs) are individuals who, during the project implementation period, have been identified as people who have developed as social entrepreneurs and agents for change. They are successful farmers from within the group who have grasped the knowledge provided through RIPAT training and have successfully implemented at least one RIPAT facilitated technology. SFs should be able to pass on knowledge of a specific technology to other farmers i.e. help spread the knowledge gained from the project to other farmers and later on to other groups within the same village or to groups and/or farmers in other villages. There are two types of SFs:
Technology SFs – one person per technology per group (e.g. banana, conservation agriculture or livestock) and frequently they are selected from among the subcommittee members after they have proved to be performing well and are proactive in the particular technology, respected and have the ability to train other farmers.
Spreading SFs – two people per group are selected to undergo a series of RA training together with Extension officer (EOs) where they receive intensive theoretical and practical education in the technologies concerned, as well as pedagogical training on how to train others (facilitation skills). Each SF thereafter functions as a paraprofessional and has the role of providing technical support to the group members and to the entire community/village, including forming new groups.
Spreading SFs are crucial for the project sustainability, and project has to invest a lot of resources in training them i.e. they must be well qualified in carrying out their expected roles. It is best if the group identifies the four best candidates in the group, and the final selection of the two candidates takes place under RECODA Academy where also the extension officers attend the course as follows:
- Assess the candidates’ performance by visiting their individual farms and inspecting their implementation of the technologies
- Conduct a written theory test
- Conduct individual interviews
- Based on the results, you and the group leadershipmake the final selection.
RIPAT Manual page 75 explains the recruitments of Super farmers starting with group sub-committees i.e. process of selection, capacity building (topics to be trained), roles, their importance, remunerations etc. Boxes 5.4 and 5.5 in RIPAT Manual pages 72 – 73 respectively shows preliminary topics to be covered under crops and livestock during the project implementation;while some of RECODA Academy generic topics under the tailor-made course for Super farmers and extension officers are based on the roles of the Sub-committees explained in Box 5.6 page 74.Record-keeping and financial management – farming as a business, Record-keeping and bookkeeping, and Savings and credit schemes (pg 76 – 82) are other important topics to be covered. In all the topics, field visits are given upper hand together with success stories, case studies, best practices, posters and video documentaries.