From April 28-June 30, 2014, Khmer men and women from the Phuoc Quoi hamlet in Phu Tan village, Soc Trang province, have been traveling to the house of Thach Ty, a fellow self-help group (SHG) member in theImproving Households’ Livelihood in Soc Trang Province project. These beef cattle farmers have been meeting for a Farmers' Field School (FFS) to learn dairy cow production.
Organized by the Project Management Board, the FFS aims to provide farmers with knowledge and techniques related to cross-breeding, nutrition, milking and more. Before attending FFS, these farmers had very limited knowledge of dairy cow production. Through multiple training sessions and exchange visits to dairy cow production models in the province, however, participants began to improve. They made action plans to switch from beef cattle to dairy cow production. Twenty out of the 30 members began using artificial insemination for their female beef cows to produce F1 cross-bred dairy cows.
Le Van Quang, a Heifer project assistant, has more than 20 years of experience in animal health care, including 10 years working with bovine animals and five years working with dairy cows. As a result, he is able to apply appropriate methods and visual aids to help others understand and absorb knowledge easily.
The FFS not only helps attendees learn theory, but also practices such as weighing rice straws, mincing grass and milking. Every two weeks, they reviewed what they had learned through group discussion. "I am very excited to work with this FFS class," Quang said. "The participants seem to clearly understand how to raise and tend dairy cows. I believe that with good preparation, the farmers will have success."
When the FFS ended, 20 out of 30 members scored 8 out of 10 on their questionnaires, while the other 10 members answered all of the questions correctly. They were very excited to receive their certificates and are looking forward to raising their dairy cows. Kim Chia said, "I have been raising Sind beef cows for years, but now, with knowledge provided by the FFS, I look forward to switching to dairy cows."