Samuel (FR-Butajira): Generally, the past two weeks have been a good experience and there was nothing new except for the special survey. I took my time to understand it first before conducting the survey. Regarding digitalization, most of them heard about it but don’t use it. So, most questions had to be skipped but it doesn’t have that option. Also, when I went to them with additional questions, they start asking about rewards. Because they are used to getting incentives from other organizations who do similar types of work. However, the guide helped me a lot in answering their questions.
The other issue was on the crop monitoring system. It has been difficult because even if I said no, it won’t skip and the questions come back again and again. There was no problem with the diaries but sometimes I find new income sources such as petty trade and I add that to the data. In general, it was good. I am done with all the 25 respondents in conducting special questions.
Gurmessa (FR- Meki): As Samuel said I also had an issue on the crop monitoring because it won’t skip. But they had good feedback on the special questions. I also observed that they are aware and willing to use the digitalizing system if they get enough access and training which is a good thing. I shared a story in the exchange group regarding M-birr which is found in the Kebele but the users are not farmers rather they are Safety Net Beneficiaries. But at least the farmers have information and especially those who are literate are very willing to try it out.
The challenge I faced was because we go to them frequently, they ask for incentives. I believe they will benefit from this research but personally, if there is any budget available, I recommend that they should be provided with some incentives to motivate them more. The other minor challenge was that they are not available most of the time. However, their response to the diaries is pretty good. As Samuel said before I also found new information and added to the data like income sources, accounts…etc. I am done with all 24 respondents for special questions.
Ibrahim (FR-Bekoji): This past two weeks’ experience was better than the last one. They were not available mostly, but it is getting better because the harvesting time is almost over, and I have observed better progress. The guide helped me with lots of things. He helped me in convincing them and scheduling an appointment so that we could meet and that helped me perform in a better way.
The challenge I faced was they started getting bored and they feel like I am collecting the same data repeatedly. They also asked for incentives and they started saying there is no use. There are also respondents that are not willing to give any detailed information on the digitization special survey saying that “I don’t know much about these things”.
On the crop monitoring, they also think it is repetitive but at least the app is working for me now. When we come to the diaries reporting, it’s easier if it is collected per week because they had a problem remembering everything. But the problem is they are not available every week. So, for collecting more than a week’s worth of data, what I do is probe them. For example: if they say, I sold these much then I ask- which market day was it (We only have two market days- Monday and Thursday) then they remember the specific date. I have conducted the special survey questions with 23 respondents.
Tekalign (FR-Assela): I had a problem with lagging behind so, I have been working on a 3-weeks reporting. The respondents are more available now because the harvesting season is almost over. They started also asking for incentives, but I tried convincing them that they will benefit from this research once it’s done. The guide also helps me to convince them.
On digitalization, most of them don’t use mobile banking except 1 or 2 respondents. They trust the cash more. But they are willing to be convinced especially the questions on possible scenarios of using digital payments for good inputs intrigued them.
When we came to the diaries, it is good. On loans, though they are very afraid to take a loan from formal organizations such as microfinance institutions. But they take loans from traders/aggregators and pay them back when the product is ready. But they hide the fact that they take loans and I had to probe a lot. But the information I get from traders is they lend the farmers money, especially during the rainy season up to 100,000 to 200,000 ETB. Some farmers tell me the information after it passed like a week after. For example, one respondent sold his product immediately after harvesting and bought a cow with the money but he told me after a while, not during the week of reporting. The other challenge was they tell me about their cost/expenses aggregately rather than individually. Other than that, they respond to the diaries in a good way. I am done with all the 25 respondents for the special questions, but I didn’t sync the data of 6 or 7 respondents.
Melesech (FR-Awi): The big challenge I have been facing is that they are not available most of the time because their farmland and their residence area are far away from each other. So, when they are on their land and harvesting, I can’t find them. The time they are available are on Saturdays and mostly on Sundays.
For crop monitoring, I had some difficulty because of the fact that it won’t skip the questions. In addition, they are bored with this repetitive survey. On the special questions, they don’t use a digitalized system because they have trust issues and rely more on cash.
When we come to the diaries, they also add some new things from the previous data. You may not see employee reporting because they are almost done with harvesting. I am also done with all the 25 respondents in conducting the special questions.