Jose- Hello everybody, Samuel, Melesech, and Ibrahim.
Samuel- Hello, Jose. We are a fan.
Jose- I would like to fresh start by thanking all of you, for your hard work. We are now in the phase of making a report of all the FINBIT data so we are looking very much in-depth into it and a lot of data we have, and a lot of data you’ve gathered. So, I would like to very much thank you for the hard work that you’ve put into this. And looking at the data it’s very valuable information that we’ve gathered so it will take a little bit of time for us to put it all together. But at some point, when we are done, I am sure you can also have a look at what we have produced. So, it will be data on one side and on the other hand, because you’ve done great storytelling in the telegram group, which will enrich the data tremendously. We will also add that for IFC. So, thank you very much for the hard work and now that we have come to the end of this road for the IFC project and because you have been working a few months with all of these farmers and traders, we wanted to capture what your own thoughts are about the project and the process and on the other side, about what we could do to help the framers.
Aschalew- So we would like to know about what your overall experiences have been in the kebeles and from the intake survey to the diaries and the special survey until now and how you evaluate the process during those tasks?
Ibrahim- Hello everybody, nice to meet you. Regarding our experience, it was a nice experience, I personally managed to conduct several surveys on my research site and it was successful, I guess. I only faced difficulties with the diaries survey, especially in the last few weeks there was negligence from the respondents and when I say respondents, I am referring to the framers. They were expecting a gift and it was hard to convince them to continue the surveys because as per our concern, the diaries were supposed to be carried out for 3 months. But we finally extended the survey so there was some kind of negligence and some of them were not willing to cooperate. So, finally, I tried to convince them anyways, it was only with the diaries survey that I face challenges. And the traders’ survey is there. I conducted only three surveys and there are remaining surveys that need to be finalized very soon. The overall progress of the research task was so interesting, I managed to establish reports with new people, got myself accustomed to new working areas, and in fact, there were some certain challenges that I have been facing especially in the first phase of the survey I couldn’t get the farmers because it was their harvesting time and during that time finding farmers n not an easy task. Again, in the middle, there was some kind of security challenges because as I was updating you in the group about the security concerns, fortunately, that issue was solved very soon. Anyways the overall task of this particular survey was very interesting and superb. It’s all that I can say about my field experience.
Jose- Is there anything that you can quickly point out that we can improve?
Ibrahim- actually one thing that I want to suggest is that whenever you consider the reports, whenever you look at the progress of the tasks you need to consider the context of the field or research area. There was a delay in our case for example, in the Arsi area. I can even mention the reasons for those delaying behind the task, compared to the other areas we shouldn’t only rely on the figures and on the number of surveys conducted every day and every week there were challenges we have been dealing with, I personally faced experienced challenges because, in our area, people are very much reluctant on exposing their financial information and these people are relatively rich, they produce multi barely, they have many so they don’t even prioritize our research work. Every time I go there, I was even begging some respondents, especially at the end of the surveys.
Jose- It is a very good point and it’s also what we want to mention to IFC, for some areas it has been very difficult and the barely part particularly has been very difficult. So as Ibrahim said we definitely want to hear a little bit about the context so that we can add it to the report. Because I think in some areas it’s easier than other areas so it’s a good point.
Ibrahim- When it comes to the L-IFT team you are doing good work. Every time you were with us, you update us, you keep in touch with us, and it was an honor being with you in this research task. One thing I want you to improve is when it comes to the reports, you shouldn’t only rely on the figures, it was hard for us to meet up with some people because of their busy schedules, negligence, unwillingness to cooperate, and even the very fascinating thing is my research guide is the kebele leader and I couldn’t even replace him because most of the respondents were accessed through this kebele leader. I tried to replace another person but that person said I should talk to the kebele leader first. So, there were just some challenges in always getting the respondents and we need to consider the cultural context and the economic situation of the area. For example, in my case, the people have enough money and the only thing they know about research is one short task, they don’t have experience with the so-called diaries survey that needs to be conducted for a longer period of time that covers 3-4 months. Even at the end of the day, they didn’t even want to meet up with me and that was my experience. So, I think some of my ideas are being repeated so I have concerns only about the reports and that we shouldn’t only rely on the figures we also need to consider the cultural, economic, and social context of the kebele that we are dealing with.
Jose- Thank you very much I will definitely make sure we add that to the data as well. So, thanks for mentioning that because different areas have different cultures exactly as you said.
Ibrahim- Alright thank you.
Samuel- Okay first of all I would like to thank the L-IFT team for giving me this chance to participate with you in this very interesting research study. Now I will continue on my overall experience through these 3 – 4 months. So, I got lots of experiences from this survey. Actually, this survey has been very interesting and manageable to work on every week. When I come to the one I got the most experience from this survey, the first one is that it is connected with individuals’ life. That means the survey digs out the individuals’ day-to-day life and from this day-to-day life, my respondents gave me full information and this information is very detailed and very important for knowing what is going on in the rural household. So doing this special survey in the case of diaries, it’s very interesting and also at the time of beginning there was some challenges like the selecting 1 kebele from 5 kebele because there was no written letter in Amharic for the woreda or kebele and this was challenging for me at the very beginning because the letter was only written in English and for my study area their working language is Amharic, I faced challenges with communicating with the woredas as well as the kebele leaders or representatives and I would like to suggest the L-IFT team to consider this issue because while conducting a research in Ethiopia, it’s better for the letter to be written in Amharic not in English because as I said before most of Ethiopians’ working language is Amharic. So at the beginning I faced this challenge. The other challenge I faced, in the beginning, was the kebele representative or leader has no idea about this type of research and he didn’t want to communicate with me. He was asking questions like, “Who are you?” and “Where do you come from?”. Communicating with him was very difficult because the letter was written in English. In general, in this field research, the respondents were very smart and they were interested in giving me their own information every week so I also got some experience from them. Some of the special questions are very long and there were also repetitions in the questions like digital payment, access to finance and loan, those type of questions are most of the time repeated so, during those times, they asked me why I keep asking them the same question over and over again. So this type of questions should be managed. In the final stage, as Ibrahim said, every question, data, and step should be considered based on the study area. That means some questions and field research tasks do not basically depend on the study area. So, it was challenging for me. For example, in my case the value chain is vegetable so there is no huge trader and most of the farmers sold their products in the market so at this time, the data of the trader will be missed. So it should be considered why there is no trader here because the vegetable is very sensitive to manage. So, most of the time this type of survey should be considerate of the specific area. Also, the kebele leaders should be considered as one of the most important people in this survey and I think the L-IFT team should consider making them a stake holder in the survey because they are the ones who manage the farmers.
Jose- Yes, I agree with you maybe they don’t need to be doing the diaries but maybe we could do other interviews with them first and get their support already and get them on board so that they can help us. So, I will write it down as a good point. And on the very long and repetitive questions, I understand that some of the questions might be boring to them but eventually, you need to ask them and I am not sure how we can change that. So, I think we have to continue with those questions.
Melesech- As a field researcher, my experiences for the past 3 or 4 months have good sides as well as challenging ones but we were really happy with this survey. To mention a few challenges that I faced, the fact that the farmers live far from the kebele, crop problems due to the current situation, and as Samuel mentioned, the fact that the letters were written in English rather than in Amharic also made it challenging to communicate with the kebeles and the traders because their working language in my area is Amharic and Awi, and there was also a political instability. Especially during this month, we couldn’t even move from one place to another and due to that tension, we were not been able to do the diaries and the surveys. Also, at the beginning, there was a problem with understanding each other but after some time we got along quite very well. And I hope the result of this research will be provided to them practically because especially the traders are very interested in using a digitalized payment system.
Jose- I heard that you have been in a difficult area so thank you very much for the effort and I am glad you are safe. So, on the letter, it is definitely the number one thing that I have on my list that we should definitely be doing because there is no reason not to translate it to different languages to make life for the researchers easier. And as it was mentioned by Ibrahim and Samuel before in the context of political stability, we will definitely mention it together with the data because it impacts a lot on the data in different ways. What I would like to ask as a question is you were saying the farmers are eager to see digital payments so can you say a little bit more about that. And why they are interested in this?
Melesech- for example when we come to mobile banking the farmers want to use it but they don’t know how to use it and the traders also prefer the application rather than the bank because to withdraw their money from the bank, the maximum amount is 50,000 ETB (971 USD) but if they use the mobile banking application they can withdraw and transfer whatever amount of money they want. And even in terms of ATM, they don’t have any knowledge about it so it would be great if we give them awareness of how to use the digitalized system so that they will be able to exercise it often.
Jose- Thank you for the further explanation. I think that is what I had as a question for Melesech, thank you very much again for working in such a difficult area, all of you.
Tigist- Thank you very much I am really happy to be working with the L-IFT team. When we first chose the kebeles there were other kebeles that had political instability but you managed to choose the kebele that I suggested. I faced some challenges in the beginning as Samuel mentioned the fact that the letter was not written in Amharic was one of the challenges for me because their mother language is Amharic and Awi. Also, at first, I had faced some understanding problems with them but once we got to know each other, and once they know about the benefit of this study, we became like family and they even showed huge interest in using the digitalized system. The respondents even said that this is very educational and that it should continue. The traders were friendly and they were giving me information willingly and I didn’t face any problems with my traders except for the fact that sometimes they got bored with me asking questions over and over again. I have performed numerous surveys for various firms, but I particularly enjoyed working with L-IFT. I haven’t had any problems related to political instability but there was a lack of transportation and I managed to walk and conducted the surveys. Until now, they keep calling me asking why I have been absent, about the presents and if they are able to get access to the loans and the amount of loan they can get and I told them that for now the loans are not planned. So generally, I didn’t face many challenges during the study and my guide was very helpful and she arranged everything for me. Finally, I would like to express my deepest appreciation I have for this company because I have learned lots of things while working with L-IFT.
Jose- Thank you very much for giving some feedback. I am glad we selected the kebele that was good for you. About the presents, after we have finished the discussion, it is definitely part of our topics to be discussed. The access to loans is also very interesting because as L-IFT we can’t give access to loans but we are looking at how we could facilitate the respondents and the data of the respondents to be interesting enough to be able to access loans so, let me talk a lit bit more about what to do next at the end of the gathering of all the findings from everybody.
Aschalew- Tigist, can you please mention what you have learned from L-IFT and if there was any challenge?
Tigist- There was not a thing that I would mention as a challenge. When I worked for other companies, there was a lack of understanding, they expect the researchers to be perfect and without any errors and if I was late, they would fire me, but this company understands me, and there is patience if I make a mistake. There is also very good communication among us. The farmers also appreciated the survey as well, at first, they thought I was an agricultural extensionist and they didn’t want to talk to me but after I told them about the company and the study, we are conducting they became very interested in learning more about the results and the digitalized system, they also have high regard for the organization.
Jose- That was a very good additional point. But one thing I would like to ask is you said that they were not happy because they thought you were an agricultural extensionist so why are they not happy with that?
Tigist- The agricultural extensions don’t have a good relationship with a smallholder farmers. This is because when they provide agricultural inputs and there is an unfair distribution of the inputs. They provide a large amount of inputs for those people whom they know and little amount for the other farmers. But once they understood where I am from and the goals for this study, they said they want to learn more from us.
Jose- Thank you very much it is a very interesting extra point. All of this type of information is good to create the context and understand the data so thank you.
Aschalew- Okay Jose, we covered all the four of them. Gurmessa is not available because he is traveling from one city to another and he will join us after some minutes. And Tekaligne, I saw him before but now he is not in the meeting now. So, we covered all of them.
Jose- Very good, maybe Tekaligne is not able to connect very well.