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TRAINING OF TRAINERS' WORKSHOP ON FORMATION

AND STRENGTHENING OF FARMER GROUPS IN


DAKCHUENG
DATES: November 13 - 15 & December 18 to 20
VENUE: Dakchueng District, Sekong Province.
HOST: Care International - Laos PDR

CARE INTERNATIONAL, LAO PDR


Ban Nonsavanh,
Dakcheung District, Sekong Province

11 January 2019
Background:

a) The rationale/justification for the workshop. Why was it necessary?


In order to achieve the project outcome of ethnic minority women within the Arabica Coffee
value chain being empowered through strengthened technical and organization capacity for
improved productivity. This ten-day workshop provided field staff with technical skills and good
practices in organizing farmers for into operational producer groups.
The trainer of trainer workshop on the strengthening of the producer groups is an important
contributor to the project as it empowers the field staff with skills to achieve immediate outputs
like organizing coffee producers in women led groups. This training was therefore expected to
enable the staff to establish 30 women led production groups. The workshop was also relevant
in enhancing skills and sharing experiences on good practices in establishing and managing
VSLA groups for the ethnic women in Dakchueng.

b) About the workshop:


This was six-day training sessions that was divided into two parts. The first part of the workshop
was done in November 13th to 15th while the second and final part was done in December 18 th -
20th. The division provide participant with time to implement the knowledge gained and interact
select the most suitable methodologies in their contexts. The training was designed to
strengthen the capacity of the field staff in developing and managing the farmer
groups/cooperatives. Skills required for the training included but not limited to; communication
skills building, decision making, problem solving and leadership strategies, because successful
activities at the community level requires that farmer group members can apply effective
leadership skills and have the ability to effectively communicate to each other.

Objectives:
To develop technical and behavior skills among field workers and contribute to the goal of
establishing sustainable Coffee Cooperatives in Dakcheung. The expected outcome includes
participants equipped with skills for organizing farmers into group and delivering training to have
operational farmers groups.

Activities carried out (1st part of training):


The training was divided into two parts each consisting of a three-day training session. The first
part of the training was carried out from November 13 th to 15th. It involved the following topics
Modules Training activities

20/11/2010 Morning session

Group managements principles Presentation and discussions on group formation principles and
how to help farmers navigate challenges. There were a question
and answer session at the end of presentation.

1
Afternoon session

Visioning Activities involved presentations by the trainer and discussions on


how to set a desired future for the farmer groups. (goals and
objectives)
Group activity was used to identify both short and long-term
activities that can be carried out to achieve group goals

21/11/2019 Morning session

Group members role Trainer presentations were accompanied by role play to emphasize
responsibilities/ participation the rights and obligations of group members, opening discussions
which provided members individually contribute ideas

Afternoon session

Role/skill set of a group promoter Training activities involved presentations and small group
discussion in participatory learning methods and facilitation of
Was done on the afternoon of the farmer group training
second day.

22/11/2019 Morning session:

Facilitating farmers groups to Activity involved presentation how to help farmer groups with
develop group constitutions/by regulations, constitutions and bye-laws, which was followed by
laws extensive discussions on what may and may not work in a local
context

22/11/2019 Afternoon session:

Strengthening Group leadership The learning activities on the last day of the first training included
and management trainer facilitation and how to strengthen rural leadership

2
Activities carried out (2nd part of training):

Time and module Training activities

December 18th, 2019

Skills for Record keeping in Presentation on the types of records group should keep, and
groups their essence
Group discussions on challenges in VSLA kept records, and
how to enhance participatory record keeping process

Financial management and Demonstration of the four parts of a simple accounting


simple accounting systems for system to be used in groups presentation on the groups
farmer groups record transactions in a cash book and process of opening a
bank accounts and its advantages

19/12/2019

Planning and implementing Trainers presentation was supported by participants using


group activities problem tree analysis identifying root-causes of common
problems faced by coffee farmers, with possible solutions to
the problems
Group activities to demonstrate activity planning and
development of action plans

20/12/2019

Monitoring and evaluation by Trainer presented on tools that can enable


both groups and field staff groups to accurately and efficiently monitor
its own activities
Indicators to measure progress were identified and discussed

Communication and conflict Presentation on the topic was supported by engaging


management in groups participants in appreciating different personalities of group
members, and how to manage conflict

Networking, helping groups Trainers presented on building relationships, connecting with


grow, and establishing second like-minded groups and steps towards self-reliance and long-
order of associations term sustainability

3
A need assessment for the training was initially carried out to establish and design a suitable
training structure catered to the specific needs of participants and target group.

PROS:

Evaluation of the training showed that the workshop had provided invaluable knowledge, skill
and experience to the participants. The participatory evaluation involved required attendees
answering some questions concerning the information they gained from the two-part trainings.
They all indicate that the training was useful and relevant to their work. Member of the VSLA
team that participated were keen and comfortable during the training, because they are already
working with VSLA groups in similar settings at a certain level.

CONS:
Seven persons attended the morning and afternoon session of the first part of the training, and
ten persons attended only the morning session of the second part of the training, nonetheless,
different participants appeared each day, and the afternoon session of the second part of the
training was cancelled because of scheduling discrepancies.

4
There were several issues that emerged during the training, which includes but not limited to the
following;
▪ Management did not participate in the training, therefore missing the opportunity to
understand the benefits of it to both farmers and the community at large
▪ Except for two consistent participants, there were new faces every day of training, most
for just a day or two, and there were no attendees during afternoon session of 2nd part
of the training, which means, 95% of the participants during the 1st session did not
participate during the 2nd session and vice-versa

Conclusion:

There are many gaps in the group formation process and the general apathy, therefor,
imperative that Care approach is effective and has some immediate gains as far as the training
goals and objectives of creating effective groups is concern. An English and LAO farmer
group/cooperative formation manual is available. Summarized Power Point slides used during
the training is also a good resource for forming and strengthening the groups in an effective
standardized manner.

Although forecast suggest that the participants, if effectively transfer their skills, could contribute
to project activities that may lead to increased productivity and effective group leadership, still
Risk and Opportunity Assessments are critical in informing various strategies to be
used to build strong effective groups. Institutional technical capacity development of farmer
organizations at all levels is essential in ensuring sustainability and a key element of poverty
reduction. Farmers benefit from farmers groups and cooperatives and networking, and not only
through marketing advantages, but also through the exchange of knowledge, skills,
experiences, and through increased bargaining power in purchase of inputs.

Recommendations:

▪ Management's participation is integral, because it enables them to understand the


functions and formation process of farmer/group/cooperatives to better provide pristine
guidance in much needed effective leadership strategies to the field staff working with
farmer groups.
▪ The formation of operational producer groups is an important key in any project that
seeks to empower farmers secure financial sustainability. It is therefore imperative that
project and program managers responsible for the field staff working the groups and all
involved in the implementation process participate in such trainings.
▪ It is expected that field staff responsible for transfer of skills to producer groups, be fully
supported by management.
▪ M&E framework should properly be designed or in place on a timely manner, to avoid
the limitation of the opportunity for continuous data collection and learning experiences
from groups and field in general, to enable possible interventions aimed at improving
services by bridging gaps.
▪ Scheduling and tasking employees is a balancing act, therefore a much needed
attention to details and focus is required to avoid employees schedules conflicting with
important trainings, especially when lot of resources is invested it in