The story of Hak Bonak of Prey Por Commune, Prey Veng Province, Cambodia
Thirty-six-year-old Hak Bonak, a woman farmer from Prey Por Commune in Prey Veng Province, Cambodia, is regarded in her community as a power farmer-trainer. A prime mover of the farmer-to-farmer mode of technology transfer, Mrs. Bonak negates the long-held belief that such mode of technology transfer is inferior to the government extension system.
It was previously believed that compared to farmer trainors, government technicians are better capacitated to teach the methodologies of agriculture by virtue of their higher educational background. Mrs. Bonak is a proof that to the contrary, farmer-to-farmer technology transfer is a more grounded way for farmers’ education.
Government institutions have begun to acknowledge this. They are now implementing programs like training of farmer trainers, farmer-scientist initiatives, and local farmer technicians. Srer Khmer, the local NGO partner of SEARICE in Cambodia, is a staunch supporter of farmer-to-farmer technology transfer and as such has integrated the concept in all of the organization’s programs. It was Srer Khmer who asked Mrs. Bonak to join the Training of Trainers (ToT) designed for the agricultural technologists (ATs) of the government. ATs act as community facilitators in implementing the FFS on rice.
Mrs. Bonak was reluctant at first, but Srer Khmer, which has high regard for her capabilities, convinced her to join. True enough, Mrs. Bonak became a very diligent community facilitator for the project.
Being a farmer, Mrs. Bonak has the distinct advantage for effective community learning as farmers can see from her farm that she practices what she preaches. Although she insists she’s just a simple villager doing what others do, like planting and raising animals, what keeps her apart from the ordinary farmers is that she shares her experiences and innovations to the community not only in theory but by demonstrating in her farm everything that she has learned.
“I am very grateful for the new knowledge and skills I gained from the training of trainors. I learned a lot about seed conservation and varietal selection,” Mrs. Bonak shared. She added that the farmers she trained are also very happy and that they plan to continue to develop varieties they prefer to adapt to their drought-challenged locality.