Activities and Methodology

The aim of Uptake of agricultural technologies and best practices amongst farmers in Battambang and Pailin provinces, Cambodia is to increase adoption of agricultural technologies and best practices. This aim will be achieved through four interconnected objectives: objective 1 will expose and analyse farmer PSPs; objective 2 will analyse experts’ and village leaders’ assessments of farmer PSPs to establish whether suitable technologies or best practices exist, whether they are available in Northwest Cambodia, and expert perceptions of their benefits and costs; objective 3 will demonstrate best practices and economic advantages for sustainable cassava production, as well as farmer-desired alternatives (e.g., transition to mango or crop rotations); and objective 4 will measure whether a PSP-based approach results in increased, expanded, or accelerated adoption of agricultural technologies, with specific emphasis on poor, marginalised, and female-headed households in Battambang and Pailin.

The project will partner with a local group (i.e., Lakhon Komnit (LK), who are an arts-based non-profit organisation that works in the participating villages to help farmer households. Specifically, LK uses theatre productions to entertain and inform. The organisation has agreed to produce a ‘Farming Village Production’, which will cover each of the four main findings of the project (i.e., cassava best practices, transition to fruit trees, pest and disease, and stress-finances). Following the production, a team member will be present to supply any information (e.g., pest and disease pamphlet to any interested farmers, and to collect their contact details so that the project can follow-up and determine whether the production or information resulted in increased awareness, intention, practice change, or sharing with friends family members, or neighbours. ‘Increased adoption’ will be measured by the number of farmers in the region using the demonstrated best practices or transitions relative to those for whom it is relevant; ‘expanded adoption’ will be measured by the type of farmers who have adopted (e.g., whether the technology is adopted by female farmers or smallholders); ‘accelerated adoption’ will be measured by the speed of adoption compared to non-participating neighbouring villages. These forms of adoption will be calculated through comparison of baseline data from focus group meetings and participant observations in year 1 with subsequent years (see Operations), and through comparison with neighbouring non-participating villages.

Objectives and research questions

Each of the four objectives involves sub-research questions, which guide the activities. The project is shaped by these sub-questions, which flow through this proposal to the activities, outputs, outcomes, and budget.

Objective 1: Determine farmer PSPs with reference to agricultural technologies and best practices

  • RQ1: What problems do farmers perceive, what do farmers think should be done, what do farmers think can be done by whom (i.e., farmer PSPs)?
  • RQ2: Which agricultural technologies do farmers identify as part of their PSPs and why?
  • RQ3: How and why do farmer PSPs differ with regard to sub-groupings (i.e., small, medium, large, poor, marginalised, and female-headed).

Activities: Focus group meetings, home visits, semi-structured interviews, livelihoods analysis

Objective 2: Determine the feasibility of farmer-preferred PSPs, and the degree of alignment with existing and available agricultural technologies, using expert and village leaders opinion

  • RQ4: According to experts and village leaders, how feasible are farmer PSPs and why?
  • RQ5: Which technologies do experts and village leaders believe match farmer PSPs and why?
  • RQ6: Which technologies do experts and village leaders believe are particularly suited to marginalised farmers, with specific attention to technologies designed to support female farmers and female-headed households?
  • RQ7: How do experts and village leaders envision successful extension-adoption of agricultural technologies and best practices amongst different sub-groups of farmers?

Activities: Semi-structured interviews with village leaders, local experts, and national-scale experts

Objective 3: Demonstrate sustainable production of cassava using best practices and, in years 2–4, add demonstrations in response to farmer PSPs (Objective 1) using best practices and technologies identified by experts (Objective 2)

  • RQ8: What are the costs and benefits of sustainable cassava production in Battambang and Pailin?
  • RQ9: What are the costs and benefits of transitions to other crops identified by farmers and trialled at the demonstration sites?

Activities: Demonstration sites, following Fermont et al.’s19 cassava testing methodology, with parallel demonstrations beginning in year 2 in response to farmer perceptions, needs, and questions or suggestions

Objective 4: Measure adoption of agricultural technologies by farmers in Battambang and Pailin to explain why some groups adopt and to identify barriers specific to poor, marginalised, and female-headed households

  • RQ10: Which technologies or aspects of technologies do farmers adopt and at what rate?
  • RQ11: Why do different sub-groups of farmers adopt particular technologies or best practices, between villages and compared with villages that did not participate in the research?

Activity: Community engagement tour with Lakhon Komnit to visit 26 villages (13 participating plus villages near to the demonstration farms) with accompanying key findings from the research. The productions in 26 villages will focus on the key findings from the research. Following the productions, a team member will interact with any interested farmer or villager, collecting their perceptions and contact details to facilitate follow-up home visits to measure farmer perceptions, intentions to act, any practice change, and/or subsequent social network analysis of any diffusion to friends, family members, or neighbours. Follow-up interviews and home-visits will be undertaken with farmers from each of the villages, ensuring coverage across farmer types (i.e., small, medium, large, male, poor, youths, and female-headed). Additional interviews with farmers from non-participating villages will contextualise the findings.