The Extension Coffee Shops in the Mekong Delta:
Learning Over a Cup of Java
CBDC-BUCAP Regional Coordinator joining one of the discussions in the Extension Coffee Shop
Sometime in 2008, a group of farmer-volunteers from Tan Long and Hoa Tinh came up with the idea of holding regular sharing sessions right in the coffee shop where they always met every morning. As they all had attended FFS trainings and were applying their acquired knowledge and skills in their own farms, they were inspired to impart their technical experiences with other members of their communities. From among them, they chose an 80 year old man by the name of Vo Van Vien as their chairman.
The sessions are divided into two. The first is held everyday, from 5 A.M. to 6 A.M., just before farmers go to their fields, and is attended by its four founding members and other farmers from the community. The second is held every Saturday morning, from 6-8. This involves more farmers and extension workers or other technical staff of the district stations. Among the topics of discussion are on grain and seeds production, variety selection, plant protection, and problems they may have encountered in their farming practices. In addition, information materials and seeds are provided to non- project farmers.
The extension coffee shops have contributed in improving skills resulting to increase in rice yield and better management of their farms, and established good social relationships among farmers in the communities. Farmer-partners are held in high esteem in their communities as they are known as experts. Those who have received technical assistance from these meetings
have likewise shared what they learned with other farmers in their areas. This model of farmer-to-farmer technical transfer
has been replicated widely in other coffee shops in the rural areas.
Inadvertently, this informal get together turned out to be an inexpensive but a practical and effective way of spreading the word on plant genetic resources conservation, development, and use.