Le Quoc Cuong, Deputy Director, Southern Regional Plant Protection Center, Tien Giang, Vietnam
Ho Van Chien, Director, Southern Regional Plant Protection Center, Tien Giang, Vietnam
Le Huu Hai, Vice President, Tien Giang University, My Tho, Tien Giang, Vietnam
Monina Escalada, Visayas State University, Baybay, Leyte, Philippines, and
K.L. Heong, International Rice Research Institute, Los Baños, Philippines
On 8 March 2012, International Women’s day, Tien Giang province launched the “Women in Ecological Engineering” program. Working with the province’s women associations, 200 women farmers from 10 districts in Tien Giang were trained on theory and practice of ecological engineering. A baseline survey was conducted with 193 farmers before the training. Trained farmers were encouraged to practice what they were taught. In focus group discussion sessions conducted in November 2012, women farmers were enthusiastically describing the benefits they had experienced since practicing ecological engineering. A post-test survey was conducted in August 2012 and here we present some comparison results on changes in the women farmers’ beliefs and practices.
Table 1: Changes in women farmers’ pest management practices before and after ecological engineering was introduced.Tien Giang province, Vietnam
[table id=31 /]
Women farmers, after ecological engineering was introduced, significantly (p < 0.001) reduced their insecticide use by 21.6% from a mean of 1.39 to 1.09 insecticide applications. Farmers’ insecticide use is relatively low but in spite of that most had their applications. Since there is doubtful productivity gains in insecticide applications farmers’ reduction in insecticide use directly resulted in increased profits. Their spending for insect control decreased from US$ 27/ha to $ 16/ha, a 41.6% reduction. Farmers also applied their first insecticide spray later in the season from a mean of 12.5 days after sowing to 22.5 days, about 10 days later in the season. Although the timing of the first spray is still considered too early in the season, it has however significantly changed.
In the surveys we presented farmers with belief statements and asked them to score how true they were using a prompt card with Likert scales from 1 to 5. The Likert scales were presented to farmers as statements with 1 = “Definitely not true”, 2 = “In most cases not true”, 3+ “Maybe true”, 4 = “In most cases true” and 5 = “Always true”. Belief statements we used were those related to pest management and ecological engineering. For example “Insecticides MUST be used and cannot be stopped” and “Flowers on bunds can attract bees and parasitoids to protect rice from BPH outbreaks”. To evaluate farmers’ attitudes in pest management we used 12 belief statements and for ecological engineering we used 15 statements. Where the attitude statement was stated in the negative, each farmer’s scores were recoded to ensure that they were in the same direction and then the scores were summed. The reliability analysis was used to study the properties of measurement scales and the items that compose the sum of scores. It provides information about the relationships between individual items in the scale and computes the Cronbach alpha that evaluates for internal consistency. The closer the Cronbach’s alpha is to 1, the higher is the internal consistency (Gliem & Gliem, 2003). In social science, the widely accepted alpha value is 0.70 or higher for a set of items to be considered reliable. The Cronbach alpha for 12 items in the sum of scores for pest management was found to be 0.78 and for the 15 items in ecological engineering, 0.77 indicating high reliability.
The sum of scores were then computed into an index ranging from zero to one, with zero representing the worst case and one representing the perfect case. The formula used was:
Index = ( (sum of scores) – lowest score) / (Maximum or perfect score – Minimum of worst score)
The pest management index (PMindex) has 12 items and thus the maximum or perfect score is 60 and the minimum or worst score is 12 and thus the denominator is 48. Since each score vary from 1 to 5, the lowest score for PMindex is 12. Similarly for the ecological engineering index (EEindex) maximum score is 75, minimum is 15, the denominator is 60 and lowest score is 15. These indices in the baseline and the posttest were statistically compared using the non parametric Kolmogorov-Smirnov test for two independent samples (Table 2).
Table 2: Comparison of indices for pest management and ecological engineering in baseline and post tests samples.
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Pest management beliefs significantly improved from 0.5 to 0.7, about 29% and ecological engineering beliefs improved from 0.75 to 0.83 or 9.6%. Farmers changed their beliefs related to pest management as well as ecological engineering. Table 3 shows significant changes in key beliefs.
Table 3: Changes in pest management beliefs after introduction of ecological engineering
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In the winter-spring crop of 2012-2013, a more intensive “Women in Ecological Engineering” training was carried out with women farmer groups in 13 villages in Cai Lay district — My Thanh Bac, Phu Cuong, My Hanh Dong, Phu Nhuan, My Thanh Nam, Binh Phu, Tan Phu, Tan Hoi, Nhi My, Tan Binh, My Phuoc Tay, Thanh Loc and My Hanh Trung. A total of 505 women farmers participated in the initiative. Before the start of the training, a baseline survey of these women farmers was conducted. A post-test will be undertaken at the end of February 2013.
Gliem, J. A. & Gliem, R. R. 2003. Calculating, interpreting, and reporting Cronbach’s alpha reliability coefficients for Likert-type scales. Paper presented at the Midwest Research-to-Practice Conference in Adult, Continuing, and Community Education, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, Oct. 8-10, 2003.