|Inter-Regional project for participatory upland conservation and development (Field Document 6/97) - NEPAL - A framework for a participatory economic evaluation of improved goat production by women groups in the Bhusunde Khola watershed (1997)|
The framework discussed in this report has been focused on improved goat production as an income-generating activity, but might have a wider scope within the field of project activities. The following are recommendations on how to further develop the framework and the outcome of the participatory workshops.
The 'Goat Training Package'
The findings of the workshops could be used as issue-oriented discussion material in a 'Goat Training Package' where groups of farmers discuss and exchange information on topics and issues in the field of goat production. The 'Goat Training Package' can be perceived as a case study method of learning from each other to build on experiences. Farmers (like everybody else) absorb new knowledge most effectively by integrating it with their existing knowledge. Therefore, it is important that the farmers draw on their own experiences, share their perceptions with the group and by that learn from the analyses and perspectives that come out of the discussions.
The purpose of the discussion topics listed below (to be developed upon during the process of the evaluation) is to serve as a memo aide to the field worker facilitating the group discussions. They are meant as suggestions as to which related issues would be natural to touch upon in the context of discussing goat production. The field staff should (as always) remember that there are not 'one right solution' to the farmers' problems and situations. Instead he/she should use an approach where discussions are encouraged and possible ways to address problems are evaluated (by the farmers).
The use of 'records' on inputs/outputs as a tool for managing the goat production (and the whole farming system) better, particularly in organizing and planning farm operations like ensuring adequate quality fodder, etc. Record-keeping helps the farmers remember more exact input and output levels and, hence, provides the basis for evaluation of different farm activities. To the agricultural extensionist the 'records' provides facts for better understanding the specific farming situation and enable him/her to give appropriate advice.
· The role of trees
Time spent on fodder collection could lead to discussions on crucial aspects like how to ensure a sufficient quantity of fodder of suitable quality so that the goats can fulfil their productive potential. In this connection the number of fodder trees needed per goat, preferred fodder species, etc. could be discussed.
· Genetic vs. environment effects
Another subject for discussion could be to distinguish between genetic and environment effects. (Good animal husbandry often has a higher impact on production than improvement of the animal genes). The discussion could include whether the higher performance of the improved goats are due to better feeding practices and management in general (sick local goats are most often slaughtered whereas improved goats tend to get treatment), or whether the improvements could be due to 'new blood' in the stock. The effects of inbreeding is an important discussion topic in itself.
The list of discussion topics could also include subjects like animal health (treatment and prevention), social values of the goat production, and alternatives to goat production. As mentioned earlier this list of discussion topics could be developed further during the participatory economic evaluation process.
The usefulness of the framework to evaluate other activities
As the framework is meant to be used for analysing changes in management practices as well as new activities it could also be used to evaluate topics like:
· The importance of maintaining and improving the agroforestry system
· Preferred fodder tree species
· The handling of community forest patches
· Developing general guidelines for income-generating activities