5.1 Key Considerations
5.2 Functional Design and Key Players of the System
5.3 Operation of TDS
The following aspects of the aquaculture sub-sector of Bangladesh were given due considerations before planning and designing the TDS aquaculture extension approach.
In view of these multifaceted problems and limitations of adequately trained and experienced field / extension personnel and other resources, area / community focussed and result oriented participatory extension approach is a necessity.
Compared to agriculture, extension is a recently introduced activity in the fisheries/aquaculture sector. The Fisheries Department is primarily involved in management of fisheries resources with major emphasis on fisheries administration and certain level of direct involvement in production and commercial activities through its fish seed production farms. Extension is still an emerging area and hence most of the field staff are inadequately oriented towards their role as extension agent. In view of these constraints, TDS gave greater emphasis on training to develop the extension capacity of the field staff of DOF working at Thana (the organizational unit working at the field level), District and Division levels, as well as the farming communities.
Bottom up planning activities were initiated at the Community/FFs-RDFs interface level and moved successively upward towards the RDFs- Extension Agent interface, Extension Workers- Extension Officers interface and also at the Extension Units - Central Extension Units (CEU) interface levels
Following were the four major functional aspects of the system
Result Demonstration Farmers (RDFs) and Fellow Farmers (FFs) from the farming communities and the team of technical personnel attached to the local unit of the Department of Fisheries (DOF) were the key players of the aquaculture extension programme based on TDS approach. Valuable contributions were also made by community opinion leaders, senior fisheries officers posted at District, Division and HQs and the NGOs active in the area.
5.3.1 Planning and selection of RDFs
5.3.6 Monitoring and evaluation of field activities
5.3.7 Appropriate technology packages
5.3.8 Communication tools
5.3.9 Input assistance
5.3.10 Extension research linkage
5.3.11 Driving force and sustainability
5.3.12 Role of NGOs
As already stated, the main objective of extension is to help the farmers identify and know the potential of their resources and to suggest to them how to develop and utilize those resources. It implies more listening from the people and learning from them, knowing them and their resources rather than imposing ones own views and ideas. The aim should be at increasing self reliance of the people and the community and infusing a sense of participation in the decision making process. This approach stimulates two way communication, gauge across grass roots level needs and priorities and reach agreement for action at individual and community levels. There are two commonly employed methods for participatory resources assessment and constraints identification. Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) is promoted by social welfare sectors emphasizing more on getting closer to the people and more with the conviction that participation is the most essential element. PRA Approach enables multi-sectoral extension teams to assist the community to gather data and other information, enlist their expressed needs and priorities and draw up a comprehensive plan of action for the overall development of the village community. A high degree of peoples participation is applied. However, a lot of time and efforts are required for such exercises. Rapid Rural Appraisal (RRA), on the other hand, is a more cost effective approach in terms of time and resource and more appropriate when the programme is focussed on aquaculture development. The type and quantity of information to be collected are restricted to aquaculture/enhanced fisheries and other closely interlinked aspects. However, the degree of participation through RRA is lower than PRA.
Villagers participating in RRA.
To start with, the Thana (Administrative unit at the operational level) team identified few villages having greater potential for aquaculture development. As soon as the villages were identified, the extension agent made a few visits to the village and got familiar with some of the local opinion leaders and practising aquaculturists. During the visit the agent got an overview of the resources and also gave them some idea about the potential for development through improved aquaculture practices. Once interest was expressed, the possibility and conditions for a village level training programme was revealed. Conditions implied token support and initiative from the community, like deciding the time, venue and date of the training, inviting the participants, arrangements for siting, etc. To ensure the participation of genuinely interested farmers and their family members, it was made clear that there was no provision for training allowance or any other assistance and the training was being organized at the request of the villagers. The stress was given to make the community feel that the programme was being organized on their request and for their benefit. It was ensured that there was opportunity for the entire family to participate.
The venue of the meeting was also important. It was also kept in mind that villagers were not used to captive class room environment and hence the planning workshop/training should be organized in open environment under a tree or any other open public place. During the initial course of this participatory activity the participants were encouraged to explain the details about their resources, existing culture practice, inputs used, source and availability of inputs, yield, consumption and disposal pattern, problems encountered, common constraints etc.
Meeting of villagers in open environment.
This exercise helped in participatory review of the resources, up to what extent these resources were utilized, problems and potential for development, and common and individual actions required for harnessing the opportunities for development. Once the interest was expressed, appropriate technology package was introduced emphasizing its simplicity, operational ease, low input cost, production and profit potential, etc. To make the communication effective, suitable audio visual aids and tools were used. Soon after getting clear insight into the local situation, the group was assisted in drawing a careful plan for the improvement of the existing culture practices. Alternatives were suggested and agreed upon. Finally assistance was promised to support the demonstration of the selected technology through further training and periodical visits. From the group, one or two innovative farmers who volunteered to conduct the demonstration, were tipped off to act as Result Demonstration Farmers (RDFs). However, the selection was made in consultation with the local communities. Selected farmers were designated as RDFs while other interested farmers were designated as Fellow Farmers (FFs). FFs were advised to participate by watching or observing the operation and wait till results were visible. At the end, the concept of the programme was explained clearly indicating no chance of getting any input assistance or credit support.
Selection of RDF.
Such an approach generated interest and competition among the interested fish farmers and instead of being selected by the extension officer, the farmers themselves offered to volunteer to act as RDFs. The role of extension officer/agent is very crucial in generating such interest and enthusiasm.
It was a general observation that some of the farmers were better educated, had more resources and more enthusiastic about adopting most modern farming practices. It had been noticed that a progressive agricultural farmer or a good livestock farmer equally performed better if he/she had started aquaculture.
Based on the village level exercise, a Thana level extension plan was drawn by the Thana fisheries unit and forwarded to the District Unit. This should also be noted that Thana level initiatives were taken up in line with the broader national aquaculture development framework. The district level plans were compiled and forwarded to the Divisional unit from where it was sent to the Extension Unit of the DOF. Necessary modifications and adjustments were made in the programme as per the national development priority and availability of resources.
Steps in Programme Planning exercise.
Criteria for selecting Result Demonstrator
Success of TDS depends largely on the success of the demonstration which further depends on the right type of RDF. Though RDFs are selected by the participating community, due considerations should be given to the following criteria.
Role of Result Demonstrator Farmer
RDFs generally represent their community. The role of RDF, therefore should be well defined and should be known to him/ her.
Changing the Result Demonstrator Farmer
Although result demonstration is one of the most effective method of extension, it is equally risky. If it fails to exhibit the expected results it will lead to disastrous consequences. The people will lose faith and the extension agent will loose face. Approaching the community will become doubly difficult in future. This implies that RDFs are critically important human factor in TDS. Inspite of careful selection, there may be some RDFs who may not show active interest or may not be keen to discharge their responsibility as RDFs. Under such circumstance, they are no longer effective RDFs and should be replaced carefully and tactfully. On the other hand, however, the demonstration may go wrong due to factors beyond RDFs control. In such events, the RDF deserves more support and encouragement.
Typically, the organizational structure of extension services system should be as flat as possible. Usually, there is no separate network of extension personnel at the field level. To make the extension programme more effective, a direct line of communication was established between the Central Extension Unit (CEU) at the headquarters of the DOF and the Field /Thana Units. A close support, monitoring and evaluation system was also introduced from the CEU. Thana units were advised to send their periodical progress reports to the CEU with copies to their respective DFOs for information and also for necessary action if required. The progress of the programme, however, was also discussed at the district, divisional and national levels during its monthly meetings and the recommendations / observations were forwarded to the CEU. As and when required the field /Thana units were supported by their respective Division / District units. Supervision of the field activities on regular basis was considered to be the critical factor for the success of the programme. It was ensured that somebody from the CEU visits the field sites at least once in 2-3 months. Frequent visit by CEU and district / division levels units was very useful to encourage the field workers, RDFs and the participating farmers.
Organizational structure of the Aquaculture Extension Services System
Training was one of the core activity/component of the system. Although separate training was organized for extension personnel, RDFs and linked FFs, the operating system itself provides a continuous learning environment for all the participating functionaries.
Initially, short duration Extension Orientation programme was organized for the extension officers/agent and staff of the Department of Fisheries to make them understand the programme and its objectives, the system design and its operation to enable them to proceed to select the RDFs and their pond. Record keeping and reporting schedules such as, RDFs record keeping book, schedule for progress reporting and reporting format etc., were properly explained. Orientation programme was followed by a week long comprehensive extension training in aquaculture for all the involved officers/agents. This also included practical exercise on field activities to be undertaken by them. Efforts were made to bring clarity in their understanding about the package of practices of the selected production technologies and the mechanism for its transfer. Concept of aquaculture extension, appropriate extension approaches, participatory and communication techniques, appropriate extension teaching methods and tools, extension programme planning etc., formed part of the comprehensive training. Discussions were organized after field exercise to review the programme, identify the points where they had gone wrong and where scope for improvement still existed to create greater impact. Depending upon the levels of their education and position, separate training courses were organised for all field level extension officers / agents, e.g. Thana Fisheries Officer (TFO), Assistant Fisheries Officer (AFO) and Field Assistant (FA).
The main objectives of the training were to:
Training session of extension personnel
Discussion and field exercise.
Operational training workshop for senior officers
Training for senior officers like District Fisheries Officer (DFO), Assistant Director (ADF) and Deputy Director (DD) were organized through divisional level operational workshops. The main objective of the operational workshop was to conduct participatory review of the progress of project implementation, operational design including reporting system, field constraints related to technology and technology transfer and measures to be taken for further improvement and refinement of the extension approach and strengthen the aquaculture extension services system. Such operational workshops of two days duration were organized once in every six months. Besides reviewing the on-going activities, certain need based topics like salient features of the TDS approach, extension programme planning, monitoring and evaluation, leadership development, human resources management, recent advancements in aquaculture technologies etc., were thoroughly covered. Major constraints and their redressal, and ways and means for making further improvements in the design and implementation procedures were also formed important topic for this training workshop.
Operational training workshop for senior officers.
Training of Result Demonstration Farmers (RDFs)
As described earlier, RDFs were selected through organizing RRA at the village level. RRA was followed by a short training. Selected RDFs were advised to prepare their ponds and in the meantime one day long short training was organized for them which was repeated two to three times during the course of the crop cycle.
Training was conducted at or near the pond of one of the RDF. During the initial phase of the project, these training courses were conducted either at Field Unit/Thana Office or at DOF farms. The training module was designed to develop self confidence, self respect, leadership quality, managerial capability and aquaculture skill among RDFs. To make the training more participatory, an informal approach was followed. During the course of the training, RDFs were encouraged to raise and discuss their problems and clear their doubts. Adequate attention was also given to make them understand the need for maintaining the records of income, expenditures, inputs, yield, hazards encountered, and other details. A simple record keeping book was specially designed and introduced for this purpose. During the course of the training they were also reminded about their social and moral responsibility to help and train 5-10 neighboring fish farmers (FFs) who were going to be selected at their recommendation. Whenever possible relevant examples were cited from local sayings/religious guidelines. Appropriate teaching methods and tools were developed and employed for making the communication more effective. After 3-4 months of field operation, similar one day long training was again organised for 10-15 RDFs near one of the demonstration pond site. The second training refreshed them once again, helped the extension agent to review the progress and problems of the RDFs and take appropriate follow-up actions. At this stage they were encouraged to discuss their on-farm problems and solutions were advised. They were also trained on how to organize and conduct method demonstrations and training for their FFs. These practical training also helped the extension personnel in developing their teaching, training, extension and organizational capabilities.
Pond site training of RDFs.
For making the training effective, instructional manuals were prepared on appropriate package of practices. These manuals contained more illustrations than text and were released after several revisions based on field testing exercise. Appropriate training tools were used during the course of the training to making the communication more effective. They were also reminded about their role as RDFs and how to lead and help their FFs and their community as a whole through the development of aquaculture. After the training the RDFs were supported by regular pond/home visits.
Training for Fellow Farmers (FFs)
During the course of demonstration of semi-intensive fish culture in rural undrainable ponds, some of the fish usually attained marketable size only after 3-4 months of rearing. At this point, RDFs were encouraged and supported to organize a short duration field training of 4 to 6 hrs. They were also encouraged to organize method demonstrations of selected steps like daily manuring, removal of algal scum, application of supplementary feed, growth assessment, health check, application of simple prophylactic treatment, etc., at their pond site for their FFs. For convenience and economy of time, 2-3 RDFs and their linked 20-30 FFs were grouped together for the training. Again for making the programme interesting and more effective, especially designed and developed extension materials and tools were used. Several do it yourself sessions were organized to provide adequate opportunities for the FFs to participate and practise certain steps and make the training practical, participatory and enjoyable. Simple and pictorial instructional manual on fish culture was developed and distributed among the participants through their respective RDFs. Fish culture game card developed by the FAO /TCP/BGD/4451 project where the various steps of fish culture practice were displayed separately on each card, was introduced during the last part of the training session. Farmers were divided into groups and were asked to arrange the reshuffled pack of cards in proper sequence. As per their performance the groups scored points. The game generated active discussion and competition among the farmers groups and added clarity to their understanding of the technology package. This became a very useful and effective training tool especially when the target group was uneducated or had low education level. Such short demonstration cum training programmes were usually repeated once in every 3-4 months. At the time of harvest, the crop as well as the production economics were properly displayed and explained to all FFs and other neighboring farmers by their respective RDFs. This helped FFs to get acquainted with the production and profit potential of the endeavor and also gave them strength and confidence to follow similar practice and act as RDF in the subsequent cycle. Meanwhile, the RDF became doubly confident, recalled his/her weaknesses and pledged to perform much better in the next production cycle. Such RDFs required relatively minimal or occasional support by their extension agent. On the other hand, they became more confident and skilled in their operation and extended more efficiently their services to their RDFs (converted FFs) and graduated to become SENIOR RDFs.
RDF taking lead role in conducting training for FFs.
Besides conducting separate training programme for various functionaries, operational
workshop was also organized at Divisional level to bring extension personnel/senior
officers as well as selected RDFs on one platform for collective reviewing of
the ongoing programme, identifying bottlenecks and discussing ways and means
for removing such constraints and assisting them to find solutions, discussing
emerging issues and new directions to make the programme more efficient and
Result and Method demonstrations were the integral part of TDS approach. This method was particularly very effective as majority of the client groups were resource poor and illiterate or semi-literate, and as such they had the tendency of avoiding taking risk. Demonstrations offered them opportunity to observe the difference between the improved and the traditional culture practices. It created greater impact when they were able to see that someone from their own community had been successful in following the recommended package of practices and benefited. These result demonstrations also created a sustainable teaching method based on seeing is believing and also developed the confidence of the extension agents.
Demonstration sites were also used for conducting in situ training for the farmers through display of the crop and demonstration of various steps of the package of practices that were followed by the RDFs. Learning through this method was concrete as it was essentially a doing method and allowed for repetition and practical exercises. The success of the demonstration was ensured because of its simplicity and presentation of concrete results. However, it was also considered to be a risky method mainly because the lateral spread of the improved technology package depends largely on the performance of the RDFs. If results are not up to the expectations of FFs, they tend to loose interest and withdraw. Result of the demonstration, however, depends upon several factors but the most important are the appropriateness of the technology package being introduced, quality of extension services and interest and seriousness of the RDFs. In this context it is important to mention that selection of RDFs is critically important. It was also noted that liberal input assistance often lured such farmers who were more interested in immediate gain than long term benefit from the improved farming practice. It is also experienced that more the farmers invest from their own resources, more serious they remain in following the recommendations.
RDF demonstrating results.
Method demonstration is a type of demonstration through which RDF/extension worker demonstrates a particular step of a fish culture technology package or certain impact creating points. For example, fish farmers may be shown how to pack seed and transport, how to treat the seed and stock them in the pond, how to prepare and apply manure and feed, how to tackle problems like dissolved oxygen depletion or disease outbreak, etc. Ideally, each participant should be given an opportunity to practice the new skill during the method demonstration session. However, limitation of time and facilities may not permit to do so especially when a large number of fish farmers are participating.
RDF taking lead role in method demonstration.
During the process of demonstration, the agents role should be supervisory and supportive and not to undertake the work by himself/herself. The RDFs should be encouraged to explain the results in terms of production and its economic viability to the FFs and other members of the community to create interest and attention.
Periodic home and pond visits were followed as face to face contact method. Though this method was time consuming, it was found to be extremely effective in ensuring the success of the result demonstration. The extension agents met with the RDFs and their family members at their home or pond site and discussed issues of their interest and gave them both information and advice. While building up mutual confidence and understanding between the extension worker and the farm family, this method also enabled the extension worker to know the actual status and progress of the demonstration, technical and personal problems of the RDFs and the prevailing socio-economic and cultural environment in the community. Above all, it helped in establishing a strong bond between the extension worker, RDFs, FFs and the rest of the farming community that provided the base for launching group teaching programme in future. Home and pond visits were widely used and had been found to be highly effective while dealing with the client groups who were illiterate/semi literate and operated small to medium size farm holdings. Meeting took place in an informal and relaxed atmosphere and the client was able to benefit from agents individual attention. The method, though expensive in terms of time spent and the number of clients served, was a highly recommended technique as the benefits were numerous. Though it started with individual contact but gradually the impact was felt on a wider community level. Subsequently, the role was taken over by the RDFs who started serving their FFs in the following cropping cycle. After conducting the successful demonstration, the RDFs required very little assistance but more encouragement to assume the role of a voluntary extension agent. To be more effective and economical, extension agents were advised to be clear about the purpose of such visits and to plan the schedule carefully.
Extension agent visiting home of RDF.
Details of activities during visit were recorded in the diary especially designed for this purpose. Follow up actions and advice were also recorded by the agent in the record keeping book provided to the demonstration farmers.
During the course of such routine visits to ponds/cage culture sites, sampling was carried out to check the state of health, growth, water colour, level of plankton in the pond, manuring, feeding, etc. The details of the work to be completed by the RDFs before the next visit were explained. At this point, the recommendations were explained properly and repeatedly to the RDFs and their family members.
The extension agent maintained a tour diary wherein an individual report section was provided for each individual RDF and after each visit, the date, the purpose, conclusions and recommendations of the visit were recorded. In case any promise was made by the agent, arrangements were made for the follow-up action. Also recorded were the follow-up actions to be taken both by RDF and the extension agent.
Follow up was a must for the proper implementation of fish culture extension programme. It was therefore, important that the supervisory staff had a clear idea of their roles and responsibilities. Regular monitoring, evaluation and support functions were important for the success of TDS based extension programme. Both field level extension personnel and the senior supervisory officers had to play equally important role in this important activity. Supervision of extension activities were not based only on checking the progress reports. Senior officers were advised to spend considerable time visiting the demonstration sites and giving advice and guidance to the extension personnel with a view to helping them to do a better job and also to encourage the RDFs. The purpose of supervision was not merely to check the activities of the staff as required but also to find out the end results of extension work i.e. the extent to which the farmers were benefiting from extension service. The following points were given due considerations for conducting monitoring and evaluation work.
Senior or supervisory personnel spent considerable time in observing and guiding the work of the extension staff, motivating his/her morale, talking to RDFs FFs, identifying the constraints, checking the results of extension in terms of adoption of improved practices and their impact on production, family income and welfare, lateral spread of the technology, etc. The performance and role of the RDFs were highly praised in the presence of their FFs and the community, making them more effective as voluntary extension worker.
Periodic inspection by Senior Officers.
In order to make the monitoring and evaluation process more precise and effective and to provide appropriate guidance for future course of actions, provision was made for reporting using uniform reporting format. During the course of the implementation of extension programme following TDS approach, a systematic and organized system was developed for the effective management, monitoring and periodic evaluation of field activities and related impact.
The following formats were used for the collection of various information from the field.
Quarterly reporting system was found to be more practical, though the progress of demonstration, training and visits and other related activities were part of the monthly meeting agenda at field unit/Thana, District, Division and Head Quarters level.
The best channel of reporting was found to be forwarding the report directly to the Central Extension Unit (CEU) with copies to authorities in the proper channel. Reporting mechanism provided quarterly flow of information on production and cost functions, progress of demonstration by individual RDF, training, visits, problems encountered and other extension activities undertaken. The Quarterly Reporting Format is provided as Annex-1. A computer database was also developed for the compilation and analysis of field data.
Overview of the existing farming practices, availability of aquaculture resources, local preference and acceptability of the products, local and nearby market demand and prevailing prices, extent of the availability and cost of the inputs to be used for aquaculture, technical and managerial capacity of the target groups, their interest level etc., were important criteria for the selection of appropriate technology package(s). The selection of the appropriate technology package to be introduced was a critical step as the TDS approach depended heavily on result demonstration. The impact was widely felt when the farmers were able to demonstrate and display the results in terms of size of the fish, overall production, profitability, no risk and ease of operation. The success of any extension programme and adopted approach is highly influenced by the appropriateness of the package of practices introduced. The approach and the technology selected for transfer complemented each other.
Taking into consideration the existing culture practices, technical capacity of the resource poor farming community, undrainable and multipurpose nature of the household ponds, the low-cost semi-intensive fish culture technology and fish seed rearing were selected for the programme in Bangladesh. During the implementation of the programme, however, certain modifications were made in the technology packages to make further improvement which were more suited to local conditions. The practice of multiple harvesting and stocking was introduced to increase fish yield as well as improve cash flow and better return on investment. However, it also created round the year demand for fish fingerlings. To make the local availability of fingerlings year round, the improved method for rearing of spawn up to fry and fingerling size were also introduced. In view of the growing demand for cattle dung, the practice of green manuring was introduced during the initial pond preparation phase. This reduced the cattle dung requirement during the initial rearing and at the same time improved the yield. The low-cost manured based semi - intensive fish culture technology selected for demonstration was earlier tried on pilot scale in the field during the preceding project. Certain adjustments were made for further refinement and making the technology more suitable to the local conditions. These technology packages were readily accepted, yielding expected results, which in turn helped quick acceptance of the TDS of extension approach.
Low-cost culture technology using family farm resources, feeding fish with home-made feed.
The purpose of using extension teaching aids is to make the communication more effective. However, there is complete dearth of appropriate teaching aids and tools on aquaculture to be used by the rural farming communities and extension personnel in most of the developing countries. Extension delivery system need to be strengthened through making improvements in the quality of materials used and the instructional ability of the staff. Use of extension teaching tools helps in making the communication more effective and meaningful. However, to develop appropriate extension teaching aids it is necessary to consider the level of literacy of the target group and the local situation where these tools are expected to be used. It should be noted that majority of the rural small-scale farmers are either illiterate or semi-literate and very few villages have proper electricity supply. Again these group of people are not used to class room type of captive environment. As a result, most of the commonly used aids such as slide and over head projectors become useless for this purpose. Furthermore, due to limitations of transport facility and rural road conditions, it is difficult to carry blackboard, whiteboard, etc. The available manual or guide for the farmers are heavily text and thus are of little use to the illiterate or semi-literate rural farming communities.
Cost effective and simple teaching aids were developed by the FAO/TCP/BGD/4451 project which were useful for the farmers and the extension personnel. Special mention is made about the flannel board set and fish culture card game. Similar training aids also need to be developed for other appropriate technology packages like fish seed rearing, fish breeding, family level integrated fish farming etc. Based on the principle of learning while playing, a fish culture card game was developed and used with growing interest. This interesting and inexpensive training tool also helped in conducting post training evaluation (PTE) and bringing post-training clarity (PTC) even among illiterate farmers. The kit consists of a set of 31 coloured pictures depicting various steps of semi-intensive fish culture practice. Cards are reshuffled and each group of farmer is asked to rearrange the cards in sequence as followed in the culture practice. After the cards are arranged in sequence each group is asked to participate in the fault finding exercise.
Farmers playing fish culture game card.
Similar game cards may be developed for other appropriate technology packages. Game cards displaying various events of fish/shrimp culture technologies were very helpful in organizing group exercise for effective learning. Extension agents can make game cards for the technology they intend to transfer, pictures are drawn on card board paper or on ordinary paper and laminated for long life.
Flannel board set
Flannel board set is another simple low cost tool developed by the project which has been widely accepted by the extension personnel as one of the most practical training tool for rural Bangladesh. A piece of 1.5 meter flannel cloth, 41 sketches printed on coloured card board paper, 5-6 sand paper sheets and few ordinary paper clips are the essential components of this training tool set. It is low cost, convenient to carry and easy to use in rural conditions where electricity and dark room facilities are seldom available. It is a display board which works on the principle that one piece of rough textured cloth adhere or sticks to another rough surface. The support is created by rough textured cloth such as flannel or a blanket. Figures, graphs, words, symbols etc., drawn on cardboard and backed by clipped sand paper get readily attached to the board as soon as it is placed on the board. Flannel board is well adapted for step by step story buildup. The capacity for building up interesting story and suspense is the main advantage of the flannel board presentation. Sets of pictures/sketches can be prepared on appropriate subject/area such as fish breeding, rearing of spawn to fry and fingerling stages, identification of technical problems related to environment and fish health, and appropriate measures to taken etc. Flannel board is cheap, can be made locally in a variety of sizes and can be rolled up and tied to a bicycle for convenience of transportation. The flannel cloth can be overlaid on wooden planks or hanged against wall or door and used for sequential presentation by fixing sand paper backed illustrations one after another .
Flannel board set on fish culture was found an effective and convenient training tool.
Application of folk media
Folk songs are extremely popular and closely integrated with rural life and culture in most of the developing countries including Bangladesh. There is rich cultural heritage and as such the people have great love for songs and music in Bangladesh. Some of the folk songs are very popular among the rural people. Based on the tune of most popular folk songs lyrics dealing with cultivation of fish, up keep of pond, maintenance of fish health were recorded. Whenever played in the rural areas, there were quick responses from the villagers. The music always attracted big crowds. Within a short time some of the culture methods were at the tip of the tongue of the local rural communities. These songs were based on the tune of most popular folk songs of Bangladesh and were played during field based demonstration and training programmes. At times these songs were also broadcast by radio. The project produced three video films in SVHS and U-matic systems entitled, Rameezer Swapna-Dream of Rameez dealing with success story of a RDF; Trickle Down System of Aquaculture Extension (Bangla and English versions) and Fish Culture in Undrainable Rural Ponds (Bangla and English versions). The drama was also in line with the folk plays which are popularly played in rural Bangladesh during winter months. These films featured actual field conditions and the actors were participating farmers, their family members and field based extension personnel.
Video and audio programmes based on local folk music and drama are popular among the local communities.
It is worth to note that all the demonstrations were organized by the RDFs exclusively through their own resources. No material or credit input assistance were provided either by the project or by the Government. Reducing the role of material input/credit assistance made it easy for the extension officers to concentrate their efforts on providing technical assistance and training rather than spend their time on credit delivery and credit recovery activities. It was concluded that pond fish culture extension service worked more efficiently and smoothly when the credit component was kept separate from the scope of extension services, especially when the manpower was limited. A prospective farmer, if needed credit to start fish culture, could be helped in getting credit assistance from local financial institutions. Alternatively, informal credit, may be of high interest rate, is always available in the local community. The culture technology selected for transfer need to be of low-cost, so that most of the inputs are available as by-products of other farming activities. In rural Bangladesh, even the fish seed for stocking ponds can be bought on credit from the seed producers/suppliers, and the money is paid after the first harvest. Opportunity to partially harvest the crop within three to four months of rearing, ensure quick return of the investment made by the farmer. A fish farmer like any other professional should start small, grow and gradually intensify their activities gaining experience.
The TDS approach had made provision for divisional / provincial level workshops after completion of one cropping cycle. This workshop provided a common platform for the extension agents, senior fisheries officers, selected RDFs and the scientists from the nearby research station to meet and discuss the various emerging issues. The workshop also provided opportunity for the participants to get first hand information about the performance of particular technology packages at the farm level. In such workshops operational and administrative problems were also discussed. Frank discussions and exchange of ideas helped scientists to get an insight into field problems and plan for cost-effective field research. The scientists also got opportunity to brief the group about some of the recent findings and technology developed by the research institutions, and offered ready solutions to some of the emerging technical problems.
The system aimed at building up problem solving capacity among the farmers and their community and creating an overall friendly environment where farmers, extension agents, fisheries officers and scientists were encouraged to come closer and work together by breaking traditional barriers. To facilitate creating such environment several steps were taken. The most significant was the community meal shared by officers, extension agents, RDFs and FFs during the course of the training. The meal was simple and prepared at the site by the participating farmers. Enabling and strengthening collective action for implementation of their own activities and problem-solving exercise played increasingly more important role in bringing sustainability.
It was experienced that active involvement of the female members of the family was essential. They were approached during pond/home visits and invited to attend all the training programme. The female members of the family always took the recommendations more readily and followed the instructions more strictly and seriously. It was quite evident from the results of the demonstration. In majority of the cases, results were much better where women member of the family were involved in the result demonstration activities. Impact of the monetary benefit was also more pronounced where women took lead role. Women RDFs spent their earnings more carefully and exclusively for the welfare of their children and family as a whole. This was a good lessons for neighbors.
Appreciation and recognition generated enthusiasm and initiative. The work of successful RDFs were frequently appreciated and as a token of official recognition, medals and other prizes were awarded to them by the authorities. This simple act created tremendous inspiration among the RDFs. They became more dedicated to their duties as extension volunteer and took active interest and pride in helping their FFs. This way they derived pleasure, enjoyed social recognition and respect in their own community. Some of the best performers were also given national level awards. Notice boards were placed near their pond/home indicating that they were the extension volunteers and community level agent representing the DOF. Such acts of appreciation and recognition were found to be the driving force for the success of TDS approach.
Notice board depicting the demonstration centre and RDF as the local aquaculture extension agent.
DG, DOF congratulating the RDF on receiving the National Award.
Aquaculture was found to be a priority area for NGOs. Many NGOs were actively working in this area. They were particularly more experienced and efficient in organizing the rural poor and assisting them in food production / employment generating activities by utilizing common property resources like community ponds, ox-bow lakes, seasonal water bodies etc. In view of the limited field level personnel with the DOF, NGOs were encouraged to participate in the programme. Depending upon their interest, NGOs workers were also invited to attend the comprehensive training courses organized for the government field personnel. In view of their growing interest and at their request exclusive training programme for NGOs were also conducted. In fact, association of NGOs in the programme catalyzed the horizontal expansion of aquaculture activities at a much faster rate.