3.1 Objectives of the SFDP
3.2 Extent of Institutionalization
3.3 Training of Group Organizers
3.4 Causes of Institutionalization
3.5 Successor Programs
Aside from evaluating the success of the SFDP in the field, a second objective of this study is to assess the way in which the Thai government may have incorporated PPP methodologies within the Department of Agricultural Extension. The first two sections that follow will look at the objectives of the SFDP and success of institutionalization of PPP methodology. Additional sections will examine the degree of success of SFDP training for government agricultural extension workers and reasons why the Thai government decided to adopt the Small Farmer Development Program. It is found that the SFDP generally met its objectives and succeeded in at least partly institutionalizing the PPP approach within the Department of Agricultural Extension. The main improvements could be made in the area of training of group organizers.
According to a Project Proposal - Small Farmers' Participation in Development submitted by the DOAE June 16, 1985, the institutional objectives of the Small Farmers Development Program were:
· to build up a strong managerial capability within DOAE to achieve a reorientation of the agricultural extension service towards participation of farmers in rural development.
· to establish a permanent team of trainers in DOAE capable of training DOAE personnel at all levels in their role of stimulating participation of farmers in rural development.
· to implement a program of stimulating participation of farmers in rural development in the four poorest provinces of the North East of Thailand.
According to the criteria outlined above, the Small Farmers Development Program has been a success. Efforts for a more participatory approach in the Department of Agricultural Extension have been led by Mr. Ananta Dalodom and Dr. Pote Chumsri. At present, the DOAE contains a strong core of personnel who can carry out training in the PPP approach at all levels. In addition, the DOAE has chosen to replicate the SFDP nation-wide in the form of the Planning and Farmers Participation Development Program (PFPDP).
At the national level, officials of the Department of Agricultural Extension have a clear understanding of the principles of the SFDP and the role that the government should play. For example, when asked what was the best result of the SFDP one official remarked, It was good to learn methods to encourage small farmer participation and to learn how to replicate the project. It was also good to see small farmers develop a sense of community and to learn how to be an advisor not a dictator. Similarly, a Deputy Director of the Department of Agricultural Extension, Mr. Ananta Dalodom stated that it is important to listen to the small farmer. Those individuals who work with the small farmers see the small farmers' potential for development. Mr. A. H. Pieper, Team Leader for the SFPP, noted that the staff of the DOAE at the national level recognizes that the DOAE structure is unfriendly to a participatory approach and needs to be made more responsive to the bottom. Thus, officials at the national level of the DOAE are very aware of the importance of participatory development and the organizational obstacles that impede implementation of more participatory methods of development.
At the provincial and district level, understanding of the participatory approach is not as strong and tends to vary from individual to individual. The governor of Nong Khai province has been very helpful to the implementation of the Thai-Netherlands SFPP. However, officials in other provinces have not been as enthusiastic.
At the sub-district level, institutionalization of the SFDP depends to a large degree on the understanding of the sub-district extension workers. The attitudes of agricultural extension workers is crucial to the success of SFDP groups and depends upon the quality of training they receive. Thus, we now turn to the effectiveness of the SFDP training.
The Department of Agricultural Extension conducted three major training sessions for group organizers. Training sessions had various degrees of success in terms of communicating the PPP methodology to the district level extension workers. The DOAE conducted the first session at Khon Kaen, the second at Pattaya, and the third at Nontaburi. Dr. Pote Chumsri, the SFDP Field Project Manager, directed the training session at Khon Kaen. This session lasted for 17 days. DOAE officials discussed the importance of identifying and helping the small farmer, the rational and methods to be used in the baseline survey, and the basics of the group approach. Most of the sub-district agricultural extension workers found this meeting very useful. However, some of them felt that the training was too long and too detailed. Thus, extension workers had trouble absorbing all the information given to them. In addition, from interviews in the sub-districts, it is apparent that information about the participatory approach failed to sink in at this training session.
The DOAE held the second training session at Pattaya in January 1986. This session took the form of an evaluation workshop and all 31 group organizers and their supervisors at the district, provincial, and national level attended the meeting. Each provincial director presented results of the baseline survey in their province and sub-district officials discussed participatory methods in group discussions.15
15 For more information see Gerrit Huizer. Report on Backstopping Mission - PPP Project in Thailand. (Dec. 1985 - Jan. 1986).The third training session also took the form of a workshop and occurred in Nontaburi. Discussions centered on implementation of the SFDP and the group process. The sub-district extension workers learned how to encourage small farmers to form groups and how to support small farmer groups after they have been formed.
Finally, in addition to the training sessions, DOAE extension workers were required to attend bi-monthly meetings to discuss progress in their villages and to exchange ideas. The bi-monthly meetings varied in effectiveness but most extension workers found these meetings useful.
Discussions with sub-district extension workers made it clear that they gained varying degrees of understanding of the PPP approach from the training sessions. In general, these levels of understanding can be summarized as:
· a new focus on the small farmerTo some extension workers, the SFDP meant simply a new focus on the small farmer. As Gerrit Huizer remarks, The group promoters, particularly the 25 DOAE extension workers, have been so accustomed to a technical and top-down approach, that it takes some time before they are effectively familiarized with the social, group formation component.16 For many of the sub-district extension workers the new focus on small farmers was something of a revelation. As Andrew Turton notes, an overwhelming number of official agrarian or rural development schemes in all localities have failed, in the past, to treat the rural poor as a differentiated category.17 Thus, previous to the SFDP most sub-district extension workers had focused on the spread of new technologies and better varieties of plants. In doing so, the extension workers often had more contact with big than with small farmers. After the training sessions, they began to consider small farmers as a separate group.
· an appreciation of the usefulness of the baseline survey and the collecting information about the village
· an understanding that group action can improve the welfare of small farmers, and
· an understanding that small farmer participation in groups can improve the confidence and standard of living of small farmers.
16 Gerrit Huizer. Report on Backstopping Mission - PPP Project in Thailand. (Dec. 1985 - Jan. 1986).Along with the new focus on small farmers, some sub-district officers found the information collected through the baseline survey very useful to their work. The baseline survey also helped to change their attitudes towards the small farmer. For example, many of the sub-district extension workers remarked that before they took part in the SFDP they believed that small farmers were lazy. After doing the baseline survey, they found that there was usually a reason for the behavior they deemed laziness. For example, some agricultural extension workers realized after doing the baseline survey that some farmers did not work during the day because they worked in factories at night.
17 Andrew Turton. Production, Power, and Participation in Rural Thailand: Experiences of Poor Farmers' Groups. United Nations research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD), 1987. p. 114.
Some agricultural extension workers reached a third stage of awareness of the PPP approach. These workers understood that SFDP groups could improve the status of small farmers. However, although these extension workers understood the benefits of group action, they often did not understand the importance of a participatory approach. In other words, they believed group action could solve farmers problems whether farmers' groups were participatory or not.
The final stage of awareness occurred when extension workers understood the participatory method and chose not to intervene excessively in the workings of small farmers groups. As one extension worker remarked, Before the training, I just tried to spread technologies to the farmers. After the training, I looked back on my past efforts and realized that I had been very DOAE centered and tried to encourage the small farmers to organize themselves.18 Unfortunately, in this study only 4 of 24 agricultural extension workers interviewed showed such a deep understanding of the participatory approach. Twenty-four of 24 agricultural extension workers understood the new focus on small farmers. Eighteen of 24 understood the importance of the baseline survey and 14 of 24 believed that group action could help small farmers improve their standard of living.
18 Charoen Sukjai, sub-district extension worker for Lankwai village, Songkla province.There may be several reasons for the varying degree of understanding of the PPP concept. First, some individuals naturally seem to understand the group approach. These individuals understand the participatory methodology relatively quickly while other individuals understand only after a long period of training. Thus, finding agricultural extension workers who understood the participatory approach often appeared to be a hit or miss phenomenon. However, several factors do seem to influence an individual's understanding of a participatory approach. These factors include: 1) personal aptitude for participatory development and 2) past experience with small farmers. Thus, it is recommended that future People's Participation Programs screen group organizers for 1) their enthusiasm and 2) experience with small farmers. Another factor determining extension workers' varying degrees of understanding of PPP methodology is the length of training. Thus, the longer agricultural extension workers spend in training, the greater their understanding of the PPP approach. Thus, more on-going training would likely improve extension worker performance and understanding of the participatory methodology.
Sub-district agricultural extension workers had three main complaints about the SFDP training. First, many sub-district extension workers complained that they lacked on-going training and evaluation. Once they went back to the villages and began to work with the small farmers groups, the extension workers encountered many problems. They felt they did not have anyone to turn to for advice and more training. One sub-district extension worker remarked, As I worked on the project, I had new problems and no one to advise me. I especially needed more help with the method and procedure to gather people together. Second, some sub-district extension workers believed that too much money was spent on training and that not enough money was spent on group activities. Some of the more enthusiastic agricultural extension workers were forced to use their own money to start group projects. Finally, many extension workers complained of being overworked with other DOAE projects. As a result, they did not have enough time to spend with the farmers developing group activities.
To summarize the recommendations, agricultural extension workers'/group organizers' understanding of the PPP approach depended on 1) their innate ability and 2) the quality and length of their training. Therefore:
· project coordinators should screen candidates for group organizer placing emphasis on 1) enthusiasm for working with small farmers, 2) past experience with small farmers, and 3) willingness to use a participatory rather than a top-down approach.
· training must emphasize participatory methods and must be on-going so that extension workers can receive new training as problems arise. The integration of PPP training into the fortnightly training & visit sessions would achieve this aim.
· PPP projects should allocate monies specifically for group income generating activities and credit components of PPP projects should be fully implemented.
A unique feature of the SFDP in Thailand is the institutionalization of the participatory approach at the national level of the Department of Agricultural Extension. During the implementation of the SFDP, the Thai government began work on its own PPP program, the Planning and Farmer Participation Development Program (PFPDP). Established on the model of the SFDP, the goal of the PFPDP is to replicate the SFDP group approach nation-wide. As mentioned earlier, the SFDP was implemented in only four provinces. The PFPDP, in contrast, is being replicated in sub-districts in all of the 73 provinces of Thailand.
Thai government institutionalization of the participatory approach probably resulted from a variety of causes. First, in the early 1980s there was a growing recognition of the imbalance in growth between industrial and agricultural areas and increasing sympathy for the plight of the poor farmer. In addition, since farmers make up approximately 65 percent of the population, Thai leaders recognized the importance of rural development to the development of Thailand as a whole. For example, the Prime Minister in a speech delivered New Years Day, 1981 stated:
... Our most important and long-term basic problem is that of rural development which needs to be re-examined and set in its proper perspective. First of all, we have to accept the reality that ours is an agricultural society.... Therefore the most appropriate and correct objective of our development policy and planning must aim at enhancing the capability of the farmers who constitute the backbone of our nation....Initial development programs, such as the Training and Visit Approach achieved good results. However, government officials who worked with farmers in rural Thailand realized that a large number of poorer farmers were still slipping through the cracks in the system. In the absence of other alternatives, DOAE officials became very receptive to plans that promised to help small farmers in Thailand. Sub-district officers who worked with farmers were particularly eager to try new approaches but this attitude extended all the way to the senior levels of the Department of Agricultural Extension. Thus, adoption of the SFDP has been motivated by a genuine desire to help poor farmers felt at all levels of government.
Development in the past twenty years... has largely benefitted the urban sector.... But the majority of the rural population have gained very little, or not at all.... Available data indicate that the rural people who are in poverty number more than 10 million....
... The Government is well aware that rural Thailand is the heart of the nation. If it cannot survive, the nation as a whole cannot too. Therefore this Government regards rural development as the responsibility of all of us, be it in the public or private sector, we have to cooperate to make our efforts strenuously and persistently at least for the next ten years. I am thus hopeful that our new direction of rural development will open up an ear of the 'Decade of Rural Development' which will guarantee stability and peace for all of us and our beloved nation.1919 FAO. FAO/Government Cooperative Program Plan of Operation. June 17, 1983, p. 3.
A second reason for the institutionalization of the PPP approach within the Thai government, has been a growing recognition among government officials that something needed to be done about the rural poor to avoid social tensions and security problems. The Fifth and Sixth National Economic and Social Development Plans are quite explicit about the problems of rapid and uneven economic growth. The Fifth Plan states that without a change in approach rural poverty and social tension will become more serious.... due to the fact that the agricultural growth rate will further decline and that only a fraction of the rural population have benefitted from economic development. Similarly, the Sixth National Economic and Development Plan notes that with political and military developments in the Indo-Chinese countries and the changes in the strategy of the Communist party of Thailand as well as the Thai government's current national defence policies, greater emphasis should be placed on rural development for security purposes in the border areas in accordance with prevailing conditions and national defence strategies.20 Thai leaders have seen rural development as necessary to avoid social problems that could have serious repercussions. Thus, government leaders willingly embrace programs that promise to help those in rural areas.
20 Rural Development, Sixth National Economic and Social Development Plan. p. 343.Third, the SFDP was adopted by strong individuals who believed in the value of the PPP approach. Thus, during the initial stages of planning, Thailand's SFDP was promoted by Mr. Yookti, then Director of Agricultural Extension and later a Permanent Secretary. Presently, the SFDP and its successor programs are being promoted by a group in the DOAE led by Mr. Ananta Dalodom, Deputy Director of the Department of Agricultural Extension. While part of their motivation has stemmed from sympathy for poor farmers, they are also motivated by bureaucratic prerogatives.
Thus, senior officials in the DOAE understand the value of the participatory approach for helping small farmers in Thailand, but they also see how the SFDP could strengthen their position within the Thai government and the Department of Agricultural Extension. For example, one senior DOAE official remarked that without outside support it would have been difficult to get approval from within the Thai government for a People's Participation type program. Other members of the government would not have seen its importance. However, once the SFDP was approved, the administrative supporters of the PPP project gained 1) a project to learn from, 2) documents and FAO approval to use as leverage, and 3) a core group of officials that became patrons of the program and who could argue for the program's further expansion and implementation. Thus, while senior DOAE officials were genuinely interested in the PPP approach and how it could help small farmers, in the day-to-day operations of the government the first priority was promoting the SFDP within the department and strengthening their administrative position within the DOAE. Thus, for the people at the top, administrative objectives took precedence over the objectives of the SFDP. However, we should not see this process as negative. In fact, the use of the SFDP in bureaucratic competition was probably necessary to get the project approved and very natural when a project is backed by ambitious administrators.
Finally, donor support was crucial to DOAE acceptance of the SFDP. Donor and FAO technical support provided money and prestige to the DOAE. Without donor support, the Thai government probably would not have accepted a People's Participation Program. However, after donor (Netherlands) and FAO support were provided, there was competition within the government bureaucracy for control over the PPP project. Thus, donor support at this critical time provided support for a project that otherwise would not have been adopted.
To summarize, the institutionalization of the SFDP was due to the fortuitous concurrence of four major factors:
· a genuine desire on the part of the Thai government to help poor farmers.
· worries over the social tensions that would arise due to uneven economic development.
· adoption of the SFDP by able and ambitious DOAE administrators in their bureaucratic competition.
· donor support at the appropriate time.
Small Farmer Participation Program (SFPP)
The Small Farmer Development Program (SFDP) has served as a model for several other Peoples Participation Programs in Thailand. The first of these successor programs was the bilateral Thai-Netherlands Small Farmer Participation Program (SFPP). The SFPP began June 1986 and is currently on-going. Benefitting from the experience of the SFDP, the SFPP has developed several innovations to improve the group formation process. These innovations are summarized below.
1) Rapid Rural Appraisal (RRA)
Agricultural extension workers found the SFDP baseline survey too long and too detailed. This delayed efforts to help small farmers form participatory groups. In addition, many extension workers complained that the baseline survey did not adequately account for social factors. The SFPP uses Rapid Rural Appraisal to make a quicker survey of a target area with a view to more rapid implementation of small farmers groups. Extension workers focus solely on those issues most important to their work and that will speed formation of small farmer groups.
Recognizing the importance of the sub-district extension worker as group organizer, the SFPP has placed emphasis on the selection and intensive training of agricultural extension workers. Selection focuses on those sub-district extension workers who have practical experience working with farmers and who show affinity with a participatory approach. Recognizing the importance of small farmers helping themselves, the SFPP also trains two promising small farmers from each village in which the SFPP operates. A two day training session at the DOAE training center in Nong Khai emphasizes group interaction as a way to sensitize small farmers to the causes of problems in their villages. Small farmers also learn how small farmer cooperation can help farmers to overcome their problems. These farmers then return to their villages where they often become enthusiastic supporters of small farmers groups. This training seems to greatly increase the effectiveness and sense of community within small farmers' groups. In addition, small farmer training helps PPP groups to be self-initiating rather than waiting for DOAE support.
3) Project Area
Since the training of agricultural extension workers and small farmers is time and resource intensive, the SFPP has been reduced in size from four to two provinces. This helps to make most effective use of SFPP resources by encouraging more interaction among sub-district extension workers involved in the project. It is clear that decreasing the project area and intensifying the training of group organizers and small farmers has improved the group formation process.
Addressing a deficiency in the SFDP, the SFPP places more emphasis on the role of women in small farmer groups. The SFPP attempts to promote women through the use of gender analysis. Sub-district extension workers visit a target village twice at one month intervals to observe the productive and reproductive tasks performed by men and women. Training and group activity is then focused on those individuals who perform a given task. Sub-district extension workers also attempt to observe how men and women fit into the larger community. Interestingly, they have found that women often perform the religious and social tasks that integrate a household in the larger community.
The individuals responsible for planning the SFPP realized that the SFPP would serve as a model for nation-wide implementation of a PPP program in the form of the Planning and Farmers Participation Development Program (PFPDP). The SFPP's planners designed the SFPP to provide training materials and practical experience for the DOAE staff that would implement the PPP approach nation-wide. Thus, the SFPP emphasized training a core group of agricultural extension workers who could expand the program to other parts of the country.
Planning and Farmers Participation Development Program (PFPDP)
On February 10, 1987 the Thai cabinet approved the Planning and Farmers Participation Development Program. At that time, the government budgeted 15.5 million Baht (US$ 600,000) for implementation of the program. The PFPDP is a conscious outgrowth of the SFDP and SFPP and designed to replicate the PPP approach nation-wide. Ultimately, the Thai government hopes to extend the PFPDP to 5,656 poor villages in 73 provinces.
The goals of the PFPDP as stated in a 1989 overview include:
1) Improvement of agricultural extension through a bottom up approach.Currently, DOAE sub-district extension workers are carrying out the baseline survey for the PFPDP. The DOAE plans to complete the baseline survey in all target villages by the end of 1991.
2) Support of farmer self-help in planning, execution, and evaluation.
3) Developing farmers' awareness of their own needs.
4) Promotion of homogeneous group formation.
5) Development of group leadership.
6) Giving first priority to poor farmers.
7) Promotion of farmer-to-farmer interaction and the utilization of available resources.
8) Establishment of revolving loan funds to support income generating activities.2121 Department of Agricultural Extension, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives. Planning and Farmer's Participation Development Project - An Overview. May 1989.
Discussing the PPP approach and the possibility of replicating it nation-wide, Gerrit Huizer remarks,
The main advantage of the unorthodox PPP approach is that once the pilot phase proves to be successful, the scheme can be rapidly integrated to become the main approach of the DOAE all over the country. As apparently the presently used T and V (Training and Visit) approach introduced on a massive scale by the World Bank, is not finding satisfactory results as regards reaching the majority of the poor farmers, there is a tendency to include the PPP/SFDP approach as a major policy for agricultural extension in the next Five Year Plan, which is presently under discussion.22However, given the experience of the SFDP and SFPP, the rapid expansion of the PFPDP may be too ambitious. As noted above, the attitude of the group organizer is a key factor in the success of small farmer groups. To develop a good understanding of the PPP approach takes time and intensive training. By trying to replicate the PPP in all 73 provinces of Thailand, the PFPDP may become more bureaucratic and less participatory as the added extension workers will not have sufficient training. While the SFDP and SFPP have trained a core group of extension workers at all levels of government in a participatory approach, the number will be insufficient to cover the entire country. National level DOAE officials are aware of these difficulties. One senior DOAE official argued that the main problem of the PFPDP will be to integrate a participatory bottom-up approach into all DOAE programs. However, awareness of the difficulties will not likely to solve them in the short term. A better approach might be to continue the SFPP in Khon Kaen and Nong Khai Provinces and to gradually expand the program from there.22 Gerrit Huizer. Report on Backstopping Mission - PPP Project in Thailand. (Dec. 1985 to Jan. 1986), p. 3.
Farmers Farm Plan (FFP)
As of the week of August 12, 1991 the Thai cabinet approved implementation of the Farmers Farm Plan (FFP). The Farmers Farm Plan was submitted as part of the DOAE's package of programs under the Seventh National Economic and Social Development Plan (1992-96). The DOAE plans to implement the FFP in 42 provinces, 120 districts, and 10,354 villages and to concentrate on small farmers and the poor. The main aim of the FFP is to better integrate agricultural extension work. Thus, the DOAE will attempt to link credit, marketing, technology, and development work with the farmer into a coordinated package that will better answer farmers' needs.