How do we talk with farmers to learn about their experiences with climatic changes and variability?
As an important step in sharing experiences and methods, the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) in Vietnam and Hanoi University of Agriculture (HUA) organized two one-day workshops for 48 graduate students and teachers on using The Talking Toolkit.
The Talking Toolkit is a set of participatory exercises for talking with farmer focus groups about climatic impacts and adaptation strategies. The training courses aimed to give an overview of the tools, to practice some tools and inspire further use for fieldwork and training.
“The toolkit is very useful for students and teachers,” said Dr. Hoang Thai Dai, Deputy Director of the Faculty of Environment at HUA. “The training helps to build the capacity of our students and improve necessary skills for future working requirements.”
Dr. Elisabeth Simelton, climate change scientist at ICRAF and lead author of the toolkit, facilitated the training. “We initially developed the Toolkit for our own research on climate change in Southeast Asia and work for developing local land-use plans. Then we discovered that there was a demand for these type of tools, both from research institutes, development organizations and universities”, she said.
The tools were taken from the Centre’s publication “Talking Toolkit: How smallholder farmers and local government can together adapt to climate change”. Many tools do not require to be done in a particular order and they can be adapted for the specific needs of the user. The versatility was obvious when the groups presented very different results despite using the same tool.
“I find the toolkit very useful, close to the reality and essential for researchers” shared one student.
Now I’m more confident in exploring and learn from farmers. The training helped me to solve the problems for my assignment.”
“The Toolkit is suitable both for teaching about climate change and for community development”, one lecturer said. “I only wish we could have a longer training to practice more.”
“We are very happy to share our methods and experiences”, said Dam Viet Bac, co-author of the Toolkit and co-facilitator at the training for teachers. “It is an important learning opportunity for us as well to see how people interpret the toolkit. It helps us to improve it.”
Indeed, discussions are on the way on how to follow-up on the training, such as analyzing the data and combining this type of qualitative information with meteorological and statistical data.
The training was organized at the Hanoi University of Agriculture in May and sponsored by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS).
All photos by Elisabeth Simelton/ICRAF