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November 2001

Summary report: FAO/RAP Rural development support to disabled farmers in Campaign 2000

"Breaking barriers to promote the social integration of disabled persons"

by Rika Fujioka
APO, RAPS

Satit Thaithatgoon
Consultant

Venue: United Nations Conference Center (UNCC) Bangkok, Thailand. Dates: 11 - 15 December 2000

1. Background

Assistance to rural disabled persons in the Asian and the Pacific region, particularly disabled farmers, is an integral part of the mandate of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to alleviate poverty and hunger by promoting agricultural development, improved nutrition and the pursuit of food security. Disabled farmers are often among the poorest members of the society, lacking access to appropriate agricultural and social support services as well as income opportunities in farm and non-farm activities.

Since 1996 FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (RAP) has, at regional level, initiated policy advice, technical assistance and advocacy to meet the needs of the rural disabled, with particular emphasis on disabled farmers. RAP activities are a part of the international FAO "Program to Assist the Rural Disabled" which has four main objectives: (1) to promote greater public awareness, within and outside FAO, of the particular development service and training needs of the rural disabled in developing countries; (2) to develop new approaches aimed at more fully integrating the rural disabled into FAO program, projects and activities; (3) to strengthen networking and information exchange capacities of disabled people's organizations, government and UN agencies and NGOs providing services in developing countries; and (4) to provide specialized technical support aimed at strengthening the income-earning capacities of the rural disabled.

The Rural Development Unit in the Sustainable Development Group (RAPS) in FAO/RAP facilitates and coordinates FAO support for the rural disabled in the region. Within the UN system, FAO/RAP has served as an active member of, and co-chair to, the Thematic Working Group on Disability-related Concerns. One of the Group's mandates is to promote multi-sectoral collaborative action aimed at the inclusion of disability concerns in all mainstream development policies, programmes and projects. One of its major activities is to promote the UN Decade of Disabled in the Asian and the Pacific region (the Decade, 1993-2002).

In connection with the Decade, Campaign is held annually with a main objective to promote public awareness of, and to mobilize support for, the Decade goal of full participation and equality of people with disabilities. In 2000 Thailand hosted Campaign 2000 and RAPS proposed to the Campaign 2000 Organising Committee that agricultural products be included as an exhibition theme, in addition to arts, crafts and computer technology. This proposal was based upon a successful FAO pilot project entitled "Mushroom Training for Disabled People"1. The project took place in Ubon Ratchatani, located in the north-eastern part of Thailand. Once the proposal was approved by the Campaign 2000 Organising Committee, Rika Fujioka, RAPS APO and Satit Thaithatgoon, RAPS consultant, coordinated the FAO contribution to Campaign 2000 from the graduate trainees of the mushroom training project, in collaboration with the Department of Public Welfare under the Ministry of Social Welfare and Labour and its Northeastern Rehabilitation Center for the Disabled Persons (the Center).

2. Objectives

The objectives of FAO/RAP's participation at the Campaign 2000 included the following:

3. Processing

Trainers and trainees of the project "Mushroom training for Disabled People" learned about basic food processing. The first mission to Ubon Ratchathani (see ANNEX I) identified several trainees who had some experiences of making processed products, with a few having already sold the products in their communities. Most of the graduated trainees interviewed during the first mission expressed interest in developing their food processing skills. Furthermore, there appeared to be a good potential for processed mushroom products to sell in local markets. FAO/RAP and the Center therefore agreed that developing food processing skills would be beneficial for graduated trainees in terms of obtaining additional access to sustainable means of income.

With this background, FAO/RAPS, through the Department of Public Welfare, sent a letter to encourage graduate trainees to participate at Campaign 2000. Upon receipt of the letter, some graduate trainees started to contact other trainees to discuss the possibility of jointly developing processed mushroom products. The Center, in consultation with the Department of Public Welfare, also prepared for Campaign 2000. The Center sent two of its trainers and one disabled trainer (former trainee under "Mushroom Training for Disabled People") to receive training at Mr Satit's factory. Towards the final preparation stage for Campaign 2000, a group of graduated trainees in their communities gathered together to cooperate in preparing the processed mushroom products. The disabled trainers at the Center, with the assistance from the Center trainers, also prepared some processed products. The Center and the graduate trainees completed the packaging of the exhibition products prior to Campaign 2000.

4. Exhibition

Campaign 2000 was inaugurated on 12 December, 2000, with the visit of Her Royal Highness to the exhibition hall in UNESCAP during the Opening Ceremony. The participants from "Mushroom Training for Disabled People" were delighted to meet with Her Royal Highness and explain about their products and accomplishments.

Throughout the 4-day long exhibition, the FAO booth attracted many visitors. The exhibition, along with the products, also featured posters and photos explaining the background (see ANNEX I). It was the only booth at the exhibition displaying agricultural products, and its agriculture-based training approach for disabled farmers captured the interest of a wide audience from different parts of the region, including the media. Panorama, a private Thai video company, which had been earlier contracted for the video shooting of "Mushroom Training for Disabled People", filmed the activities at Campaign 2000, to be aired as part of 60 minute documentary about graduate trainees for broadcast in Thailand and aboard. Thai ITV and a Japanese TV station also interviewed Mr Satit.

Seven persons from Ubon Ratchathani, including graduated trainees and the Center staff (list in ANNEX I), were selected2 to participate at the Campaign 2000. They presented the knowledge and techniques of processing they acquired by displaying their processed mushroom products. They also had an opportunity to sell the products they prepared (list of exhibited materials in ANNEX I).

By the end of the exhibition, 85 to 90 percent of the products on display were sold. The profits will be used to further develop the mushroom production activities at the Center. Although the sales of the products were not the primary purpose of participating at Campaign 2000, it provided an opportunity for the participants to learn to communicate to people, as well as about product sales and consumer preferences.

5. Future development

Campaign 2000 provided a good opportunity for participants to apply their skills and creativity to prepare value-added products and think about future marketing potential of mushroom production. The same motivation was shared among those graduated trainees who remained in Ubon. The experience of Campaign 2000 will provide a momentum for graduate trainees to continuously seek further sustainable means of income generation by value addition and explore market potential, while sharing their techniques with their families and communities.

In terms of the feedback from the audience at Campaign 2000, FAO exhibition attracted a fair amount of attention from among participating NGOs and other organizations carrying out activities in support of disabled persons. In fact, the participants were invited by the organizer of Campaign 2000 to exhibit again at another exhibition in Bangkok. This demonstrates that, while the majority of vocational training for disabled persons has been urban-based, there is growing acknowledgement of the importance of promoting rural-based vocational training. FAO's commitment to assist rural disabled farmers through their capacity building is therefore timely and merits further attention. It was, therefore, timely that FAO/RAP participation to Campaign 2000 was initiated by the Rural Development Unit.

We strongly feel that the experience of this type of activity, as one of such examples, should be shared with wider audiences: e.g. different units and field offices in FAO as well as other interested organizations, including government agencies and donors.

Endnotes

1This two-year long pilot project, carried out in Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand, was completed successfully in November 2000. The project aimed at providing technical assistance through the Department of Public Welfare of the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare to establish an innovative methodology for vocational training for the rural disabled. During the two-month-long training at the Department's Northeastern Rehabilitation Center for the Disabled Persons located in Ubon Ratchathani (the Center), the trainees, who have been selected in collaboration with local Tambon administrations from a large number of candidates, learn mushroom cultivation, processing and marketing through on-the-job training. The training curriculum has three components: (1) individual and group motivation classes at the start of the training course, through which the trainees develop a sense of self-confidence as well as unity with their fellow trainees; (2) technical capacity building on mushroom production for trainees with different disabilities, both mental and physical; and (3) mushroom production based small enterprise development. 48 trainees graduated from two batches of the training, and most of them established small mushroom houses in their communities. A small number of graduated trainees remained in the Center to be trainers of new trainees.
2Through the missions to Ubon Ratchathani participants to Campaign 2000 were selected according to (1) their willingness, (2) quality of their processed products, and (3) their availability to participate.

ANNEX I

MISSIONS

CAMPAIGN 2000 ITINERARY

10/12/00

Arrival of participants from Ubon Ratchathani

11/12/00

Preparation of exhibition at UNCC

12/12/00

Opening of Campaign 2000

15/12/00

Closing of Campaign 2000
Departure of participants to Ubon Ratchathani



CAMPAIGN 2000 PARTICIPANTS

Mr Somsanit Malasai

Trainer A

Ms. Wiraiwan Phrapotithet

Trainer A

Mr. Decha Baokhum

Trainer B

Ms Auradee Silachai

Trainer B

Ms Sawaeng Srisawang

1st batch trainee

Mr Pramuan Khanakhaeang

1st batch trainee

Mr Saeng Hatthawong

1st batch trainee (former trainer B)



CAMPAIGN 2000 EXHIBITION

Mushroom products by trainees

Kapi Hed (mushroom paste); 83 bottles
Mushroom in soy sauce; 50 bottles
Hed tup (tasty dry mushroom); 40 bags
Namphrik hed (mushroom chili paste); 50 bo
ttles
Hed kaew (mushroom freaks); 45 bags
Hed sawan (dried mushroom flakes); 90 bags Naem hed (fermented mushroom); 15 bags

* In addition to the afore-mentioned quantity, the trainees made their own investment to prepare more products.

Samples from Mr Satit's factory

Mushroom cookies
Mushroom pies
Mushroom candies
Hed Sawan (dried mushroom freaks - different tastes from those prepared by the participants), etc.



Posters and Photos

Part 1

Theme

"Mushroom Project for Disabled Persons" to strengthen self-confidence and building capacity of rural disabled persons, by combining local virtues and universal knowledge. Fraternity was also one of the key concepts.

 

Posters

FAO "A millennium free from hunger" / "Empowering the rural disabled"

 

Photos

FAO team / thanks from trainees.

Part 2

Theme

Dedication and commitment of mushroom lovers to use techniques and knowledge they acquired for self help. / Integrity of Thai society.

 

Photos

Arunyik Mushroom Center (AMC: managed by Mr Satit's family and played an important role in the mushroom project as well as at Campaign).

Part 3

Theme

The competence of the government in the new millennium.

 

Photos

Northeastern Rehabilitation Center for Disabled Persons under the Department of Public Welfare, the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare.

Part 4

Theme

Freedom acquired by rural disabled persons as front line members of the communities with self-esteem, self-reliance, self-help capacities and hope.

 

Photos

Trainees after the training courses.

Part 5

Theme

Food processing techniques and sharing of gained knowledge within the communities resulting in greater peace and harmony.

 

Photos

Graduated trainees working on mushroom production and processing.

FEEDBACK FROM THE PARTICIPANTS

Question - "Was Campaign 2000 a good opportunity for you in terms of :

 

Ms. Wilaiwan

Mr. Somsanit

Mr. Decha

Ms. Auradee

Ms. Sawaeng

Mr. Saeng

Mr. Pramuan

Making new friends

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Little

Language motivation

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Learning about sales technique

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Acquiring general knowledge

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Learning about problem solving

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Not much

Learning about Philosophy of work

Yes

Yes

Some

Yes

No

Yes

Some

ANNEX II PHOTOS

Many of the graduate trainees of "Mushroom Training for Disabled People are now "small entrepreneurs" in their communities. They gather together to make processed mushroom products.



"Small Entrepreneurs" manage mushroom houses with the support of their families and communities.




Ms Darat and Mr Pramuwan - one of the four married couples from "Mushroom Training for Disabled People." While expecting a baby, they prepare products with their mother for Campaign 2000.




First batch trainees join hands to prepare processed mushroom products in their communities.

They apply the techniques they learned and created; i.e., "village-level" food processing.


Trainers from the Northeastern Rehabilitation Center for the Disabled Persons and a graduated disabled trainee learned community-level mushroom processing at Arunyik Mushroom Center.

Trainers from the Center and a disabled trainer carefully measure the ingredients


Proud of a variety of processed mushroom products (mushroom sausage, mushroom chili paste, mushroom in soy sauce, fermented mushroom, etc).


Having completed the training, the trainers transferred techniques to their colleagues in the Northeastern Rehabilitation Center for the Disabled Persons

Disabled trainees learn about food processing and packaging.

A disabled trainee checks kapi hed (mushroom paste).

Trainers from the Center pack the completed products for Campaign 2000.


Campaign 2000: Seven participants from Northeastern Rehabilitation Center for the Disabled Persons took an active part in demonstrating to an international audience that persons with disabilities in rural areas can achieve a sustainable livelihood through agricultural activities and small enterprise development

Her Royal Highness expresses interest in the FAO exhibition.

The participants learn to communicate with people from different backgrounds.


The participants are delighted to share their accomplishments with an international audience.


The participants learn to explain their products to their "customers."

Processed mushroom products prepared and packaged by the participants.



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