| Agricultural development workers training manual: Volume IV Livestock |
|Chapter III: Guidelines and references|
Farm visits are important in livestock training because they afford certain opportunities to the trainees that can not be replicated at the training site. You can learn local farming practices firsthand through observation and participation. Furthermore, it presents the opportunity to meet local farmers and to learn from them such points as use of local resources, marketing, climate, cost of feeds, local breeds, housing, local disease and parasite problems, etc. In seeking out this information, you can practice the skills taught in Core sessions. Listed below are examples of some of the Core skills that can be practiced during a farm visit.
I. Communications Skills
- Appropriate use of language
II. Community Analysis
- Information filtering
- Identifying farmer self interest and motivation
III. Agricultural Extension
- Method-demonstrations to-farmers
Trainees can also practice the technical "hands-on" skills learned in livestock training under field conditions. Experience and practice are 2 fine teachers that can be learned from in these visits. Furthermore, work in the field removes the classroom atmosphere of a training site and allows trainees to practice the skill or skills that can commonly be practiced in the field. The list is not all inclusive and will vary during different seasons and in different countries.
- Treatment for internal and external parasites
- Iron shots
- Hoof trimming
- Vitamin injections
- Ear tatooing
- Wing clipping
During farm visits it is important that you, as a trainee to become a development worker in agriculture, assume the role of active participant rather than as a passive observer. Since successful extension work often requires such participation as a means of explaining a new technique in-country it is good to start practicing the method in training. Do not be afraid to soil your hands. However, if you are practicing a technique or skill with a farmer's animals you must be careful not to injure or kill the animal. Do not practice a technique that runs this risk without the farmer knowing of the risk and the trainee must have the necessary funds to compensate the farmer for any 1088. Hands-on skills are best learned through practice. Therefore, any farm visit that limits you to simple observation is of limited value.
When and where possible it is a good idea for the trainees to organize the farm visit. By doing so you will be gaining agricultural extension experience and if you work in extension in your host country you may wish to organize your own farmer visits. The contacts you make during your live-in with your family and other farmers or neighbors might yield potential farm visits. Furthermore, the local agricultural extension service might be willing to work with you and the farmers in organizing farm visits. While organizing to do a farm visit, you should consider the following points while planning the activity.
1. The timely nature of the visit.
By this I mean that you should choose a time with the farmer that is convenient for both of you. Furthermore, after exploring with the farmer the tasks for the trainees to accomplish, you should ensure that (supposing the work to be done is dusting of chickens for mites) indeed the poultry do have mites and that the trainees have practiced the skill at least once before the farm visit. The more realistic the visit is to a "real" agricultural extension visit with a farmer the more valuable it will be.
2. Receptivity of the farmer to you and your questions.
It is always a good idea to make sure that your visit is timed so that the farmer can be present. If you anticipate the group asking many questions it is good to let the farmer know that ahead of time so he or she will feel more comfortable with the group. If you sense a limit on the farmer's time or receptivity to questions the group should be informed before the visit.
3. Are there any physical tasks to perform? If so, what are they?
Here it is important to ensure that all the needed supplies for the work are on hand during the visit. Discuss with the farmer what you need to supply and what materials he or she will provide. Other considerations are:
1. Do the trainees have all the needed skills and resources in order to do the work?
2. Is the farmer's operation and level of production comparable to those the trainees will be working with in-country?
3. Does the farmer have on his or her farm the same species of animals commonly found in-country?
4. What constraints has the farmer placed on the group in working with his or her animals?
Finally, as the organizer of this visit, you need to work out all the details about transporting the group to the farm and the hour of the visit. Transport and timing are important to farm visits in stateside training but are critical items during an in-country training. For in-country training it is important to remember to be patient when the lorry does not arrive to transport you or when you arrive at the farm and the farmer is either late or not present at all. During training as well as during volunteer service it is always a good idea to have a contingency plan so that time is not wasted if the visit does not go as planned. Leave enough flexibility in your plans to take full advantage of unplanned opportunities as they arise. Remember that the farm visit is designed not only to practice technical skills but also to work on the Core skills as well.