Ann is a Peace Corps Volunteer who has been trained in intensive vegetable gardening techniques. She arrives to replace another volunteer in the village where she has been posted and within the first two or three days local authorities, ag workers, and townspeople hold a meeting to welcome her. She introduces herself by talking about where she has come from, her interest in helping with agriculture and her appreciation for everyone's friendliness and assistance in getting her settled into her house. She asks the names of the local leaders and listens to each make a small speech.
During the next few weeks, Ann spends most of her time orienting herself to her surroundings. She tours the town with her offical counterpart, Abdul, who introduces her to shopkeepers and religious leaders, shows her where local artisans perform their various crafts and helps her arrange for language instruction. In the evenings, she spends time filling in a map with the day's information and paying visits to her neighbors.
Ann follows up her initial contact with village leaders by asking them to commit a small amount of time to her on some agriculturally-oriented task. She asks one leader to show her his farm. She asks another to show her where she stores her crops and seed. She asks a third to introduce her to the 'best' farmer he knows. In this way she begins to piece together impressions of which leaders are actively interested or involved in agriculture and of the agricultural practices people employ in the area.
She also takes two days to travel to the district capital with Abdul to visit the Ministry of Agriculture's office there. During her stay she makes a special effort to get to know the Ministry's office secretaries, the storekeeper, motor pool drivers and mechanics, and the paymaster, because she realizes that these people hold important positions and provide her with key support services in the field. She meets for an hour or two each day with her supervisor, discussing this perception of previous development efforts in her site. He reviews the work of her predecessor who worked with vegetable gardens in three neighboring villages, and briefly describes some of the Ministry's ongoing projects in the area. She is especially interested in learning about on-farm trials conducted recently of improved eggplant, pepper and onion varieties. She is told about office procedures, is given a tour of facilities, and receives forms for her monthly reports.
When Ann returns to her site, farmers are harvesting their field crops and clearing ground for dry season vegetable gardens. She and Abdul decide to grow a small garden of their own on a plot of land in back of her house. They clear the ground together, and as they work they talk at length about gardening practices. He describes to her local methods of cultivation and she presses him for more information on the variety trials he helped conduct the previous year.
One or two times a week, Ann offers to help farmers with their harvesting chores. Though she finds it awkward at first, she gradually improves in handling the scythe made by local blacksmiths and has an enjoyable time learning to tote loads on her head and being taught the local names of various plants and tools.
As the harvest draws to a close, more attention is focused in the community on planting the vegetable crop. Farmers had good success last year, especially with their onions. This is largely due to the relatively cooler temperature in Ann's site which is at a higher elevation than much of the rest of the country. Some farmers were able to market some of last year's surplus and most are interested in expanding their efforts this season.
The main limiting factor to expanding production is the availability of onion seed, which can only be multiplied in a much cooler, temperature climate. Traders bring the seed into town from the capital city, but they charge a high price for it, demanding even higher prices than before. Ann hears much grumbling from her neighbors. She asks them what alternative seed outlets are available; no one seems to be aware of any outside the capital city. She discusses the situation with Abdul and he tells her that seed can be bought through the ministry, but that it takes a special request of Ann's supervisor as well as several months advance notice so the seed can be brought in from outside the country.
The village vegetable crop emerges and Ann and Abdul work out a somewhat regular pattern of visits to farmers. On Abdul's recommendation, they focus attention on spacing of seedlings during transplanting and on weeding practices, the two areas where farmers have had the most difficulty in the past.
The onion crop matures, and, though there are some losses due to insect infestations the crop looks good. The regular field visits and the harvest prospects have been duly noted in Ann's reports to the Ministry, and on a visit to the district capital near the end of the growing season Ann's supervisor refers to the onion crop and asks if the reports are indeed accurate, that the onion crop is going so well. His interest sparks an idea in Ann's head which she discusses with Abdul that evening.
Ann's idea is to invite her supervisor and some of the other ag workers in the district to visit her site to observe the onion crop during the first week of harvest. This would give the farmers in her area a chance to request of the Ministry a special seed purchase for the following year. It would also be an opportunity for Abdul to gain some recognition for the good work he has been doing if he were to take a very visible role in organizing a reception for the special quests.
Abdul becomes excited at Ann's suggestion and the two visit their supervisor the next day to invite him to a field day. He accepts and a tentative date is set three weeks hence.
When Ann and Abdul return to their site they visit one of the village leaders who is also an onion farmer, and tell him about the arrangements they have made with their supervisor. The leader is pleased that contact has been made with the Ministry of Agriculture about the seed problem in town, but he tells Ann and Abudl, much to their disappointment, that the field day cannot take place as planned. A special commemorative burial service will be held that day. The three talk further, some of the other leaders are called to join the deliberations, and it is decided to send a messenger to the district capital to invite the Ministry supervisor to come a week later than had been arranged. The messenger returns after a day or two with the good news that Ann's supervisor will be able to visit on the alternative date.
Planning at this point is carried out at three different levels. Ann and Abdul sit down and discuss what their goals are for the field day. They choose two: to impress Ministry officials with the needs of farmers in Ann's site for better access to onion seed; and to demonstrate Abdul's accomplishments as a field extension agent so as to enhance his prospects for future promotion within the Ministry. In order to meet these goals, the two extension workers discuss the role they will each play during the field day, and they list several questions to be posed to village leaders to help ensure that the day will come off without a hitch.
A meeting is held between Ann and Abdul and the village leaders. Abdul points out to everyone assembled that the Ministry official will arrive in the late morning and will probably be accompanied by several other Ministry workers. Discussion focuses on who will greet the official on behalf of the town, what the official will be shown on his tour of the vegetable gardens, what special provisions will be made for food and entertainment, and who will represent the onion farmers in presenting their seed request to the official prior to his departure. A list of tasks is drawn up and the town leaders decide to call a town meeting.
This meeting takes place the next evening after everyone has finished their day's work in the field. The leaders announce to the townspeople the impending visit and state that people will be needed to clear brush away from the paths to the fields, cook a special meal, provide entertainment and attend a meeting with the official to talk about onion seed purchases for the upcoming year.
On the appointed day, Abdul and Ann make a last minute check to make sure that all the preparations have taken place. Their supervisor arrives somewhat later than either of them expect, and some of the farmers grow anxious in the meantime. Nonetheless, the day is carried out according to plan. Abdul, Ann, and the village leaders greet the official when he arrives. Abdul and a couple of the best onion farmers show the official several of the onion patches. A large meal is served while local musicians perform. And at the close of the day, the town leaders makes a small speech praising Abdul and Ann for their extension efforts and asking the Ministry supervisor about procuring onion seeds for the following year.
The official responds by saying that he has been impressed by what he has seen. He asks how many farmers are interested in buying seed from the Ministry, and after a rough head count is taken, he says that he feels confident that he will be able to get seeds for them for the next growing season.
The next few months pass slowly for Ann. The rains begin and travel becomes more difficult. Farmers devote most of their energy to traditional field crops. Ann continues to gather information about agriculture by making regular visits to farms in the area. She spends time with the women in the village who dye cloth, learning from them about their craft. And she takes a short vacation to visit friends in another part of the country.
Two or three months before the end of the rains, Ann checks back with her supervisor about the onion seed purchase. He tells her that the Ministry has no funds to place a deposit with the seed company, but that he can go ahead and place the order if he gets half the money from farmers who intend to buy seed in advance. Ann had not anticipated this difficulty and returns to her site to confer with Abdul and village leaders. A meeting is called and the information is relayed to the rest of the onion farmers. Someone claims that the Ministry official is trying to take advantage of them by stealing their money. Other farmers state that they simply will not have the cash until the field crop harvest is in to buy the seed. In the end, several farmers have to borrow money from relatives and five or six farmers drop out of the cooperative buying effort because of distrust.
The next few weeks are unpleasant for Ann. She and Abdul come under increasing pressure from villagers as the dry season approaches and the seed fails to arrive. With less than a month to spare, a message arrives from the district capital that the seed has come. A meeting is held to collect the remaining money required for the purchase. Again, two or three farmers are short of cash. They ask Ann to extend a short loan, but she chooses to remain firm and they are forced to come up with the cash elsewhere.
The seeds are bought at a price nearly twenty per cent lower than that charged by traders and many farmers are able to acquire larger amounts than they have had access to in the past. Ann and Abdul continue to work with farmers on their cultivation practices and the harvest is bountiful. Several farmers rent a truck for a day to carry their bags of onions to the capital city to sell. Others store their produce for sale in nearby villages. Ann, meanwhile, keeps careful records of yields, drying and storage techniques, and the names of people involved in cooperative marketing efforts for future reference.
The rains return and shortly thereafter Ann finishes her Peace Corps service. She is followed in her site by a volunteer who is particularly interested in cooperative development. This volunteer never seems to develop the same rapport with his Ministry supervisor that Ann had, and the official is not willing to go out of his way to make the special effort to order seed early for the farmers the next year. Thus, though they continue to cooperatively market their onions and other vegetables, farmers in the village where Ann lived are forced to buy their seed once again from travelling peddlers.
Tony is a Peace Corps extension agent entering a village that has never had a Peace Corps Volunteer before. The Peace Corps program he is assigned to is considered a rural development program. It is relatively new - three years old and is just beginning to isolate the most pressing needs of the host country's rural people.
Tony's training is primarily in a package of new innovations designated by government research stations as the central component in a "crash" Ministry of Agriculture program to dramatically improve maize production. The package includes: land preparation techniques, introduction of hybrid seed varieties, several different improved planting methods, recommendations for spacing and timely weeding of crops, use of chemical fertilizers and the controlled use of pesticides. Construction of water wells and latrines and cooperative marketing were secondary emphases in the training course.
Tony arrives in his site accompanied by his supervisor in a Ministry of Agriculture Land Rover. After meeting the town mayor and several of his counselors, Tony discovers that, as yet, there is no place for him to stay in the village. There is some commotion and quite a bit of discussion that Tony does not understand as different landowners in town are sent for and the Ministry supervisor tries to negotiate some arrangement.
Finally, everyone marches to one end of town to look at a house that has been selected for Tony's use. The house has not been completed yet, it lacks doors and windows, a cement floor and a latrine. Still, it seems large and comfortable enough to suit Tony's needs. A rental agreement is made and it is decided that Tony will be the guest of the mayor until the house is finished.
As it turns out, Tony spends the first month and a half living in two adjacent rooms in one of the mayor's houses waiting for work on his own house to be completed. At one point he decides to contribute some of his own money to buy the materials the landowner needs to proceed with construction. At another, work is delayed because the man digging his latrine becomes ill for several days. Finally, everything but some of the latches on the windows has been completed and Tony moves in.
These first six weeks are from Tony's perspective, full of frustration. He finds that he has to put a lot of time and energy into motivating people to keep working on his house. Consequently, he does not have a chance to get around the village and meet as many farmers as he wants to. It is nearing the planting season for maize and Tony has made only a few contacts with people who might be interested in trying some of the new practices he was taught in training.
To make up for lost time Tony discusses with the mayor the possibility of calling a farmers' meeting. Its purpose would be for Tony to formally introduce himself and describe to farmers some of the new agricultural techniques he has come to promote in the area. The mayor agrees to call farmers together three nights hence.
At the meeting, Tony gives a short speech explaining where he has come from and chat he has been sent to the village to work with farmers in agriculture. He tells the farmers present that he has special training in maize production and that if any of them are interested he can show them maize growing methods that ill more than double their current yields. The mayor follows Tony's speech with a call to farmers to be cooperative with Tony. He says that it is a rare opportunity to have someone come in from the outside to help develop the town and villagers should take advantage of such assistance while it is available. Before the meeting breaks up, Tony makes a list of more than a dozen names of men who say they are interested in the new maize cultivation techniques.
Over the next few weeks, Tony discovers that the meeting has served very little purpose. Within the ethnic group that is predominant in the village, maize growing is done almost exclusively by women farmers, not by men. The response at the meeting was apparently prompted by the mayor's remarks. This becomes apparent only after Tony has made several fruitless attempts to meet with some of the men who were present at the meeting to discuss plans for the upcoming cropping season.
Tony forges ahead over the next three or four months with his attempts to promote improved maize production methods to women farmers, despite several difficulties he encounters along the way. The first is a language barrier. Most of the men in the village speak a dialect that is used all over the country for communication between ethnic groups. This is the dialect Tony learned in training. Most of the women, on the other hand, are less well-travelled than the men and can consequently speak only the very localized village dialect. Tony is forced to communicate with them through two women who can speak some of the outside dialect until he can learn to speak the local language himself. This is a cumbersome process and work moves slowly.
A second problem relating to sex roles in the village is that most of the cash-generating enterprises - cash crops government service jobs, and the like are controlled by men. Women farmers, by and large, do not have the capital to invest in the seed, ag chemicals and labor requirements called for in the package of innovations Tony has been trained to promote. This places even greater restictions on the work.
The final difficulty is a very basic lack of trust. Farmers simply do not believe what Tony says about the potential yields to be had in adopting the package of innovations he is recommending. A research station less than 40 km away has achieved very favorable results in on-farm trials in villages only a few kilometers down the road, but it seems that Tony's neighbors are not to be convinced until they actually see results for themselves.
The immediate consequence of these difficulties is that Tony has to drastically redirect his promotional efforts from the plans he had originally developed for his work. His first step on the new course is to take soil samples from several of the farms in the area to the research station for testing. This gives him Information he needs to know in order to recommend the variety of seed best suited to local farm management practices (e.g. the absence of chemical fertilizers).
Next, Tony procures quantities of seed to loan to farmers for use in small on-farm result trials. Many people have planted already by the time he brings the seed to the village, but a handful of farmers still take the chance to try a new variety. Of these, only three or four adhere strictly to the planting instructions Tony suggests to them, the others preferring the more traditional and time-saving practices of wider spacing and more seeds per hole.
A month or two later, Tony's focus has shifted to the need for timely weeding in the maize fields. This advice is either wholly ignored or only partially accepted. There are just too many other competing demands on women's time to allow for a thorough weeding of crops at precisely the correct stage of plant growth.
Only two women have enough money to purchase fertilizer, even though many or the women have heard of it and would like to try it sometime in the future when they can better afford it. Tony works with the two women to show them how to make the most efficient use of the limited amounts of fertilizer they have purchased. Like some of the other efforts, however, the effects of fertilizer use are muted by improper application of other aspects of the extension package.
Harvest time rolls around and as expected, the results show only a slight improvement over past years. No one is greatly disappointed and in one or two cases gains from the new practices are quite apparent. Still, Tony is frustrated. After a whole season's work, there does not seem to be much to show for everyone's efforts.
One curious fact about the harvest catches Tony's attention. Many of the women in the area live at the subsistence level, supplying most of their own food needs from what they grow themselves. This fact notwithstanding, Tony notices that no sooner have women finished harvesting than they carry most of their grain to the market for immediate sale.
Tony asks several of the women he works with why they are not keeping more of their harvest for personal consumption in the months ahead. They respond almost to a person that they cannot keep any more corn than the one or two bags they have already set aside because they will lose too much of it to rats and mildrew in storage.
This is new information to Tony, and he devotes quite a bit of time to thinking about it. He has not been trained in effective grain storage techniques, so he is unsure how to go about helping villagers put a stop to their problems. In order to better educate himself as to what practices are currently being employed, he conducts a farm survey.
What he finds is a wide variety of storage methods. Most farmers leave the grain on the ear during storage. The ears are stored in either large strongbox-type storage bins, or they are piled on mats in rooms set aside for grain storage purpose. Some farmers shuck the grain from the ear before storing the shell corn in burlap bags in lofts in their houses. In most cases, the condition of the stored grain is not good. The maize is generally not adequately dried, some is infested with insects, and rats are running rampant.
To get a better handle on the storage problem, Tony does some additional investigating. He talks to officials at the research station and tours their storage facilities. The latter are quite impressive, but do not appear to be very appropriate to the situation faced by most of the farmers with whom Tony works.
Tony also travels to the capital city to do some checking at the Peace Corps' resource center. Here, he finds two or three reference works on intermediate storage technologies. He copies several of the grain silo and storage crib designs and returns to the village.
There he continues monitoring storage conditions in bins around town. He convinces two farmers that their maize needs additional drying in the sun before it can be left in storage. And he talks to several others who are having terrible problems with rats. Most just shrug off the situation and say there is nothing they can do.
Even while making those rounds, Tony begins experimenting with some of the new storage designs to see if they are feasible when made with local materials. A neighbor helps him find vines and certain types of tree bark that can be used to lash sections of bamboo together. The two find, however, that the bindings suggested in the plans Tony has do not work effectively with some of the taller structures. By trial and error, they come up with a strong knot to use.
Together they make a set of scale models that Tony uses to talk with farmers about storage problems. Those who experience the greatest difficulties with storage offer suggestions on how to meet their particular needs. Those who have the greatest success in storing their harvest offer tips on how to improve the designs. Most of the attention in the discussions Tony has with farmers focuses on rat control devices - stilts and metal shields to prevent rats from grawing their way into maize cribs and bins. Two or three of the designs seem to meet with far greater approval from farmers who look at the scale models than the others. Tony builds full-scale models of these, with his neighbor's help, and fills them with grain to see how well they work at keeping the corn dry and free from rat damage.
By the time these are completely constructed, the "hungry season" is growing near and people are becoming concerned about whether or not the previous year's grain will last until the next harvest. Tony judges that the time is ripe for a demonstration of the improved storage techniques he has been testing.
To set up the demonstration, Tony visits each of the farmers he has maintained contacts with over the past several months' time and checks with them on the current status of the maize in their storerooms. Many have very few stores remaining, most have problems with rats; several have suffered losses to mildrew and insects. Tony talks with them about the new bins he has constructed and says that he is planning to make a demonstration of their effectiveness to farmers who might be interested in building one for themselves.
This first round of contacts gives Tony an idea of how many people are seriously interested in the new storage techniques. He contacts each of the farmers who seems most interested a second time to suggest two or three alternative dates for making the presentation. The general consensus is to wait eight days until a special religious observance is past, and then give the demonstration in the early evening after the women have cleaned up from their cooking chores.
In preparing for the demonstration, Tony strives to keep several things in mind. He knows that farmers are acutely aware of storage problems because of their anxiety over the upcoming hungry season, and he wants to capitalize on their clear self-interest in improving the way they store their crops. He also knows that farmers are more likely to fully understand and accept advice from one of their peers than they would from him, so he wants to have his neighbor help him give the presentation. Finally, he tries to think of ways to get farmers actively involved in what he says and does during the demo. He believes that once farmers see and experience how easy it is to construct a welldesigned bin and understand how well it works (Tony's bins are virtually rat-free), they will freely opt to build one for themselves. Tony's neighbor is willing to help with the demonstration, so the two men sit down together and come up with a plan for the presentation that includes the following steps:
1. Invoking audience interest by passing around rat-damaged maize;
2. Pointing out the essential requirements of an effective storage bin;
3. Evaluating storage methods commonly practiced in the village;
4. Explaining and comparing the new maize crib designs;
5. Answering questions;
6. Asking for volunteers from the audience to help demonstrate construction methods;
7. Repeating steps, if necessary;
8. Answering questions;
9. Summarizing and offering followup.
They decide who will take what role during the different parts of the demonstration, they assemble materials - additional bush rope and bamboo - they will need, and they actually rehearse several times together the sequence of activities to make sure that things will run smoothly.
Two days before the appointed date, Tony makes rounds to all the farmers who expressed interest in coming to the meeting to remind them of the time and place where it will be held. The day of the meeting itself, Tony lays out materials where they will be handy during the demonstration. He considers where the expected audience of fifteen or twenty people will stand so they can both see and hear the presentation. And he checks with his co-demonstrator on some last minute ideas he has for avoiding snags.
Most of the women Tony expects do actually come to the demonstration. A half a dozen men even show up. The demo is carried out and Tony and his neighbor spend nearly half an hour answering very particular questions about the time needed to build the bin, construction techniques and results in terms of rat protection. One or two farmers remain skeptical of the amount of labor involved, and a third doubts that the new crib designs will be secure enough to keep theives from breaking in and stealing grain. The rest of the farmers express strong interests in having Tony help them build one or another of the designs for their own use. Discussion at the end of the evening focuses on the best time to actually begin building the new cribs. Most feel that it will be best to wait until all the crops have been planted and more time is available to devote to the construction task.
The rains begin and Tony once again works with farmers on their planting methods, stressing that fewer seeds per hill will reduce a lot of the negative effects of crowding farmers experienced the previous year.
When the planting is finished, Tony sets out to follow up on his earlier efforts to promote the new storage bin designs. At the demonstration, more than ten farmers indicated that they would like to try building rat-proof maize cribs. By the time all the crops are in the ground, only six farmers remain interested. Tony helps each of them over the course of the next two or three months to construct her own facility.
The next harvest comes in and the new-bins are pressed into service. Farmers are very pleased with the way they work. There is still a small amount of rat damage, but compared to previous years there is a vast improvement. Maize in the bins also dries thoroughly. In fact, the only real problem remaining is that a percentage of the harvest is still lost to weevils.
In his end of service report, Tony details the steps he followed and the progress made in his site in introducing the new storage technology. He also lists the problems he faced and the measures he took to try and meet the special needs of the ethnic group he worked with in promoting maize production. He recommends that his successor be interested in storage problems, and that she be well versed in use of pest control measures appropriate to the insect problems farmers continue to face with their new storage facilities.