The Reality of Rural Communities Revealed in a Rural Development Project

Kako INOUE, Thi Nga NGUYEN, Tien Dung PHAM, Eiji YAMAJI
The rapid growth of agricultural production in many Asian countries has often been accompanied by the heavy use of agricultural input. At the same time, it had brought serious problems of food safety and environmental stress. There have been tremendous technical transfer initiatives and agricultural extension efforts taken place in many countries. Yet, such difficult challenge of adopting agricultural methods that have less environmental burden in a sustainable manner remains. What has been
more » ... gnized during such efforts was that farmers in "complex, diverse, and risk-prone" areas (Pretty, 1995) could not be successful in adopting standardized packages of practices with the top-down approach. Then, more farmer participation with the involvement of institutions like nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in agricultural technology transfer efforts has been emphasized, and it was revealed that agricultural progress depended crucially on local knowledge and local solutions (Tripp, 2006) . It should be noted that how farmers react to agricultural programs/projects varies in its locality even with farmer participation, and there are very limited number of studies to explain how such complex nature of farmers' or rural community respond to agricultural technical and agri-business development project, providing evidence of impacts both before and after programs/projects ended (Lutz, 1998) . This paper challenges to describe such complex natures of rural communities in a case of three different socio-political settings of the Red River Delta, Vietnam, showing how farmers and local actors could respond to project actions, which consists of two technical training components: 1) to enhance farmers' cultivation capacity to adopt the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) method without relying on the use of agrochemical inputs, and 2) to equip farmers with product quality management and marketing skills for their community agri-business development. The project actions were taken place for five seasons, and this paper provides results of seven cultivation seasons, including two post-project seasons. II Objective and Research Framework Objective The main objective of this paper is to demonstrate how farmers and related actors in different rural communities of the Red River Delta, Vietnam had responded to technical and agricultural business management project actions with the provision of capacity development opportunities provided to farmers' communities. There exists tremendous number of research articles on diffusion of new farming techniques and on project sustainability (as known as the "diffusion of innovation" study), with examination of related characteristics of techniques or projects themselves, actors' behaviors in relation with incentives and constraints, and environmental contexts. Yet, the majority analyzes narrowly and according to specific applications (Rogers, 2010; Wejnert, 2002; Fliegel 1993) . Rather than providing an exhaustive review of the literature associated with each particular variable, this paper shows the factual results of rural development attempts, making an abductive inference. In order to capture complexity of rural settings, the research framework is designed to conduct the action research in different socio-political conditions while project actions are not limited to a single "technical transfer" aspect but also a management skill development aspect. In addition, in order to explore possible factors to influence farmers' decision to continue or drop their practice during and after the project actions, various aspects, such as reactions of different actors in relation with socio-political settings, agricultural productivity and profitability, and farmers' perception on project actions, are monitored. 農村計画学会誌 35巻論文特集号 2016年11月
doi:10.2750/arp.35.266 fatcat:zitwxmdezrbhpi3nolnrk4izhq